Coming soon to Hotmail, push email for mobile phones via ActiveSync

Microsoft is planning to introduce Hotmail push email support for a wide range of phones including the iPhone, Windows Mobile devices and Android.

Microsoft will introduce the support using Exchange ActiveSync, available on nearly 300 million phones. With push email you will be able to sychronize email between your phone and the web, and also synchronize calendar and contacts.

Targeting Gmail

Microsoft has traditionally used a closed door approach for access to Hotmail compared to offerings from its rivals. Google offers Exchange ActiveSync support with its Gmail service and Microsoft is aiming to ensure Hotmail offers everything gmail does and more. The new Hotmail will also include a single contact list of all online contacts including those from services like Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace. Microsoft is also introducing Active Views to integrate the content and functionality of other websites directly into emails that users receive. If a contact sends you an email with a link to a YouTube video or a Flickr photo album, you will be able to view the video or photo slide show within the email itself.

Security improvements

Microsoft is also planning to improve the security features of Hotmail. The new Hotmail introduces increased security in the form of "account proofs". Proofs allow users to recover access to their Hotmail account using mobile phones or PCs as proof of account ownership. Similar to the secret security questions, users will be able to send an account recapture code via an SMS message or regain access to their Hotmail accounts by using a computer that is registered with Hotmail. Microsoft also plans to introduce single use codes. The codes will be available for when you sign into Hotmail from public computers. By using a code you will not have to enter your password to access Hotmail, preventing it being stolen by key loggers that could be installed on the machine. A one time code will be sent to users via an alternative email or mobile phone.

Push email support will be introduced with Windows Live Wave 4 in June.

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