So the rumors were true.
Microsoft this week showed off a little preview of the new version of Hotmail. Following in Google's footsteps, Microsoft is adding threading, an embedded instant messenger as well as a cleaner interface.
While the new Hotmail seems to be heavily influenced by its biggest competitor, not all the features are copy-cat improvements swiped from Gmail. GigaOm reports that new features include the ability to add videos from Hulu, Justin.tv and YouTube, and a new Bing sidebar that allows you to add maps, pictures and information like movie times to an email. You can pull up all emails from one person just by clicking on their name and there's a handy-dandy 'sweep' tool that allows you to delete all messages from one sender and block all future messages. The revised Hotmail will also provide a better experience when accessed from mobile platforms as well as the ability for basic editing of Word, Excel or PowerPoint documents.
Microsoft is also adding photo-sharing capabilities, but these are not what you'd expect. The limit for photos in a single message is a massive 10GB. This is because doesn't actually transfer the photos, it just hosts them on the cloud. If you have Silverlight installed, you can view the photos online in an animated slideshow. If not, you can either view them online (though not as part of a fancy slideshow) or download them directly.
*Image via GigaOm