I wrote about Windows Live Mail before, back when it was apparently having some server problems. Those problems have been solved, but the issue of quality and usability remains. While I don’t like uninformed bashing of Microsoft products just for the sake of doing so, Windows Live Mail has some real problems with usability that need to be resolved before it goes out of beta and becomes “live”.
First of all, Windows Live Mail is quite slow to load – considerably slower than Gmail or even the previous Hotmail – the main page takes quite a while to load before you can even do anything. I’m not sure if it’s because of the server-side scripts they’re using, or whether it’s due to the potentially huge amount of client-side scripting they’re doing – I didn’t bother to look, and why should I? The fact remains that it’s slow to load, and this detracts from the “rich experience” quality significantly. Microsoft is obviously concerned about making this web application perform more like a regular desktop app, with all their Ajax-like features in the interface. However, the first thing they should be concerned about is responsiveness – no one’s going to care about anything else if things are slow to load.
I don’t like the default right-pane preview, but thankfully the preview pane can be moved to the bottom or turned off completely. However, you can’t resize the ratio between preview pane and message list, unless you’re using, you guessed it, Internet Explorer. I thought this sort of underhanded action was a remnant of the browser wars of the late 1990′s, but apparently not, as this is the case with other Live services, it seems. I refuse to believe that Microsoft doesn’t have developers smart enough to work through compatibility issues; thus this must be part of the bottom line to increase Microsoft market share. (However, note that I have issues with offline e-mail clients such as Thunderbird as well)
Which brings me to my next point – the spam filters on Hotmail or Windows Live Mail don’t seem to be as good as on Gmail. However, this may be just because it’s been around for much longer than Gmail, and hence, is targetted more by spammers.
The memory remains