The current version of Windows Live Hotmail entitled Wave 3, that has lots of changes over last version. Here is the summary:
Speed: The coming soon page says that for broadband users, the new Hotmail will be up to 70% faster on sign in (50% for non-broadband users). That’s a pretty big claim, and one which should provide for some interesting testing once the beta is open to the public.
Ever-increasing storage: Microsoft have carefully avoided using the phrase “unlimited storage”, as Yahoo has done, but in a sense this is what is being offered. The figures we last heard for this were the the existing 5GB free accounts would be getting growth of 250MB per month, but this is pre-beta and could have changed and so our usual disclaimer applies. Obviously the PR definitely looks better leaving the figures out, but a free inbox of 8GB by the end of year 1 gives us a warm feeling. (For comparison, Gmail is currently on 7GB and still growing.)
New UI: Along with the new Wave 3 UI, in particular the new header and themes available shown below, the new promotion site suggests that the classic and full versions of Hotmail will be combined together. This potentially means that full functionality could be available across all browsers. Also worth mentioning here are improvements around dealing with spam.
In terms of Hotmail integrating with other Windows Live services, there’s also some details on that:
WebIM built-in: This feature doesn’t really need much explaining and should be a popular addition. From what we’ve heard it’ll support most of the basic needs such as presence, notifications and chat via the Web Messenger dogwood. Yes its been a while since we’ve spoken about that!
Integrated Calendar: No surprise if you’re on the new Windows Live Calendar beta to hear there will be integration between the two services.
Easier to send group emails: Thanks to the new Windows Live Groups service (go ABCH!) it’ll be easier to email all those contacts in one go.
And of course there is stuff not on the PR site that we’ve heard about, including the long-rumored POP support for other mail clients and using Skydrive for storing photos sent via Photo Mail. Unfortunately if you’re now excited about giving the new Hotmail a try, we haven’t seen any links to sign up for a public beta. As soon as we do though, we’ll let you know. Keep those tips coming, either in the comments or via email.