Microsoft is in the midst of building a new Web 2.0 property branded as Windows Live (currently in beta). Windows Live is part of Microsoft’s strategy to directly compete with Google in their core areas such as search, mapping, and email How to delete a labels in gmail . As the owner of the blog TechKnowBizzle I’m a huge fan of Google’s work, particularly in regards to Gmail, our blog enjoys reviewing Gmail’s competitors to see how they stack up.

Microsoft’s Windows Live Mail Beta is still in a mostly closed beta, and for some good reasons that will become apparent. The first thing that I was struck with was the Outlook similarities. The Windows Live team has done a great job recreating Outlook in a web browser. Most all of the visible features in Outlook are in Live Mail, and they work great. I was thrilled to see my favorite reading pane layout, where the list of messages and a message viewing pane are side by side. Microsoft has included many options to customize the color scheme, and change other layout options in ways similar to Outlook.

Security has been attended to, all of the features of Hotmail have been retained, and combined with some Outlook techniques such as tagging suspected phishing emails as unsafe. Messages from unknown senders do not fully display unless you want them to.

Navigation was very easy and familiar, anyone who has used Outlook or Outlook express should feel right at home. All the buttons were clearly labeled and easy to find. The Contacts pane was also a great feature, my contact list was easy to scroll through and find names. Finally, the service provides 2GB of storage so email never needs to be deleted.

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