Microsoft aims to take the desktop 'Live'

by admin March 31, 2006 at 8:17 am

The battle over Web e-mail is spilling onto the desktop.

Microsoft started testing Windows Live Mail Desktop this week. It will let people manage their Hotmail–or e-mail from other accounts such as Yahoo Mail and Gmail from Google–offline without accessing a Web-based server. They still must connect to the Web to send and receive e-mail.

Although billed as an e-mail client, Microsoft’s desktop software offers more than just a way to read e-mail. In its current form, the software also allows users to instant message their address book contacts, post a blog or read RSS feeds.

It makes sense for Microsoft to deliver this new desktop software, analysts say, because of its history on the PC, huge Windows user base and effort to build a network of ad-supported software. Microsoft has been looking for ways to support new free software through advertising.

That said, other big Web-based e-mail providers are saying they have no plans to follow suit. The proliferation of broadband connectivity and wireless Internet access makes Web-based e-mail easy and popular and makes adding desktop software to the mix a moot point, at least right now.

“What we hear is that our users really appreciate the ‘anywhere access’ of Web mail that we provide,” said a representative for Yahoo, whose e-mail program, with nearly 226 million users worldwide, is the most popular. Hotmail and Gmail have 222 million and 52 million global users, respectively, according to ComScore Media Metrix. AOL has 66 million users worldwide.

Full article: CNET