Microsoft is working hard to make cloud services more like desktop applications. One way they are doing that is by making Hotmail a little more accessible by creating an icon you can pin to your taskbar showing how many unread messages you've accumulated since they last time you obsessively checked your email inbox.
The new icon requires that you have Windows 7 with Internet Explorer 9 installed. Along with showing your unread mail count Microsoft has added a few other features to the icon as well:
Most of you know that you can now launch Hotmail just like you launch other Windows applications by pinning Hotmail to your Windows taskbar. To do this, sign in to Hotmail in IE9 and go to your Inbox. Now, drag the Hotmail tab from the address bar in IE down to the taskbar, and drop it there. Once you’ve pinned Hotmail, you can check your email just by clicking the icon – no need to open IE and navigate to a bookmark. Hotmail also uses IE 9’s new jump list feature to let you compose a new email or go straight to your Calendar or Contacts just by right-clicking on the Hotmail icon in the taskbar.
Users who have IE9 and have already pinned the Hotmail icon to their taskbar should noticed the changes automatically. In the Windows Team Blog post talking about the new features added to the icon they stated that they are trying to make the Windows experience more like the Windows Phone experience. This new icon for Windows users functions similarly to the one found on Windows Phone 7.