Hotmail Hooks Up With Outlook

Microsoft went live with a new subscription version of its enterprise-grade Outlook offering that also connects with its premium Web mail services MSN Premium or Hotmail Plus.

Microsoft said Office Outlook Live is the first Microsoft Office product to be made available as a downloadable subscription service. However, the company offers Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration, a software package that lets service providers host Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, Live Communication Server 2005 and Windows SharePoint Services.

The Office Outlook Live software is aimed at home “power e-mail users,” said product manager Karin Muskopf. “It’s for someone who wants the same experience at home that they have at work.”

Subscribers receive the latest version of Outlook, in the form of Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 for Subscription Services plus 2 GB of online storage, the ability to send 20MB attachments, and current levels of spam and virus protection.

Users don’t need to be running Microsoft Office, but they do need to be subscribers to MSN Premium or Hotmail Plus.

“With MSN Premium and Hotmail Plus, this rounds out our subscription services,” Muskopf said.

The downloadable software lets users manage all MSN e-mail accounts, contacts and calendars from a single interface. They can send e-mails from multiple accounts, search for messages across accounts and manage different calendars and sets of contacts.

Changes made on the client machine are automatically synched with online Hotmail accounts; if the changes are made while offline, the accounts are updated the next time the user goes online.

The software itself will be automatically updated as Microsoft delivers enhancements, such as its beta release of an anti-spyware tool on January 6. While the premium Web mail services also take advantage of such updates, Muskopf pointed out, Outlook Live provides additional protection and updates on the client side.

Microsoft Outlook Live is available today in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, where there are both English and French versions.

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