What’s the difference between Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail, Windows Live
Hotmail and MSN Hotmail? I keep getting them confused. And aren’t some of them
the same thing?
You’re confused? You and the rest of the world.
And no, with another case brilliant naming, all four of those things are all
I wish Microsoft would have learned from the mess that resulted from all the
different names for something called
messenger or the two unrelated email programs with the word Outlook
in their name, but no. Here we are. Again.
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Windows Mail is a mail program that’s included
with Windows Vista. It replaces Outlook Express which came with previous
versions of Windows, and it has a pretty similar feature set. My guess (and it’s
only a guess) is that it really is Outlook Express but with another name and a
few tweaks for Vista. I know of no way to get Windows Mail other than by
Windows Live Mail is another, different, mail
program. This one is still in Beta at this writing. Windows Live Mail confuses
me for several reasons: it’s also a replacement for Outlook Express, it’s
slightly more full featured than Windows Mail, and it’s a free download that also works on
Windows XP. Basically it does more than Windows Mail, above, so why does
Windows Mail exist at all? I’m certainly at a loss to explain it. Anyway, as I
said it is the replacement for Outlook Express. In fact, so much so
that you can no longer even find an official download of Outlook Express (which
was in the Internet Explorer download), but you can most certainly download Windows Live Mail.
product names … well, it’s really unfortunate and leads to a lot of
Windows Live Hotmail is unrelated to anything I’ve talked
about so far. Windows Live Hotmail is Microsoft’s free web-based email service.
Visit http://mail.live.com and what you’re really visiting is Windows Live
Hotmail. It’s designed to be accessed via the web, meaning no program is used
or needed, and you can access it from any machine on the internet using just a
web browser. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out my concerns about relying on free email
MSN Hotmail is nothing more, or less, than the previous
version of Windows Live Hotmail. The confusion exists because the transition
from MSN Hotmail to Windows Live Hotmail was done slowly over time. That means
that for a while both were available at the same time. The upgrade from MSN
Hotmail to Windows Live Hotmail appears to be mandatory (there’s no going
back), and at this writing I believe it’s complete.
Those are the names. Unfortunately there are more issues beyond the naming
that add to the confusion:
for a period, Windows Live Hotmail users could switch back to MSN Hotmail.
This is no longer available.
Windows Live Mail (program) will allow you to download your Windows Live
Hotmail (web mail). Windows Mail does not.
The premium (for pay) version of Windows Live Hotmail apparently
has additional capabilities that the free version does not, including POP3/SMTP
access, which would allow it to be downloaded into any mail program including Windows Mail.
Windows Live Messenger is a
whole ‘nother source of confusion.
It’s frustrating. I know naming products is difficult, I’ve been there. But
to purposely end up with such a confusing mess of product names … well, it’s
really unfortunate and leads to a lot of confusion.