Even though it's been out for a while now, today I received an invite to try out Microsoft's new Windows Live Mail Beta. After signing in with the special link that was e-mailed to me, I logged in to this new service reminiscent of Outlook Web Access 2003 but with a plain, white, minimalist look. I used my existing hotmail.com account to view all my messages and folders. What was kind of funny was that for some reason, the e-mail invite I received to join the Windows Live Mail Beta was flagged, "Potentially dangerous message. Mail has failed SenderID check. We recommend you contact the sender via phone before opening this mail."
Overall, the service has a slick, clean interface, similar to Gmail, with the exception of graphical banner ads on the top and right side of the page. The new Windows Live Mail Beta features 2 GB of storage, an "InfoBar" to reduce spam/phishing e-mail, drag-and-drop, and message previews (another feature familiar to users of Outlook Web Access 2003). I think I'll turn off the preview pane, though. Something else that's neat for geeks is that you can right-click on a message and choose from several actions, one of which is View Source, which shows you the entire e-mail in raw text including the full headers--handy for checking out suspect messages. Overall, the Windows Live Mail Beta looks pretty cool and we'll probably see this replace Hotmail in the near future.