Changes at Hotmail – Microsoft wants to exorcise old ghosts

20 Oct 2011

Microsoft has launched five new tools it believes will help cut down on the amount of old email stuck on servers falsely labelled spam.

The software giant said today it believes only about 2pc of inbox email is actually bona fide spam, with the bulk being unwanted newsletter deals and alerts that were signed up for and are now either forgotten or no longer of interest – what Microsoft calls “grey mail”.

This is because 75pc of the email messages that people reported as spam are really legitimate newsletters, offers, or notifications that are no longer required.

Microsoft has announced five new tools to help Hotmail users take control of their inbox, get rid of grey mail, and keep track of the email that’s important.

Smart Newsletter Filtering allows users to highlight and delete newsletters with a single click or unsubscribe completely.

Categories and advanced folder management will allow users to choose to categorise their messages in the inbox as opposed to having to file them in separate folders.

Scheduled Cleanup allows users to automatically get rid of emails of a certain age, sweeping away old newsletters and out-of-date offers. You can also now keep only the latest message from a sender.

Flags done right will position your priority messages right at the top of your inbox. No more having to mark messages as unread or email them back to yourself to keep them top of mind.

Instant Actions are buttons that appear when your mouse hovers over a message allowing you to delete, flag, sweep, etc, messages with one click. Users can also customise their UI by adding and removing buttons based on the tasks they use most.

Microsoft launches Hotmail Android app

As well as delivering a revamped feature set to the web mail service, Microsoft also launched an Android app which features multi-account support, calendar and contact sync to a handset and the option to show images in messages in-line.

This marks the second set of changes in Hotmail, the company said.

The final third set of updates is scheduled for early 2012.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years