Microsoft Opens New Mail Client Beta

Microsoft has opened up the beta program for its new advertising supported e-mail client that integrates with the company's Windows Live initiative. All users can now sign up to test Windows Live Mail Desktop without needing an invitation.

As previously reported, Windows Live Mail Desktop is expected to be released later this year and will eventually serve to replace Outlook Express, which has updated for Vista and renamed Windows Mail. Because it will not ship with Microsoft's new operating system, Live Mail Desktop will be available as a free download.

Windows Live Mail Desktop will fill the role of connecting the operating system with a number of Live services. The software client links up to Windows Live Mail without configuration, and integrates Live Messenger contacts directly into the interface. It also works with any POP or IMAP e-mail account, with support for multiple inboxes.

New features of the client include junk mail and phishing protection, built-in RSS reading, as well as the posting of blog entries and publishing photos directly from the software. Microsoft has additionally added a new 3-pane view of e-mail messages.

Like its Web-based counterpart and other Windows Live services, the product will be supported through the use of advertising. At the core of this effort lies Active Search, an addition Microsoft is pitching to users as a helpful feature, but which will largely function like text link advertising on popular search engines.

"We're driving hard toward our version 1 release and we need your help to locate those hard to find issues that you care about the most and to tell us what you think. We’re confident that you will find the beta very usable and we promise to send you a refresh very soon (plenty of new goodies on the way!)," said Live Mail Desktop program manager Oji Udezue.

In order to download the beta release, users must simply visit ideas.live.com and either click "Sign Up" or "Download" under the Windows Live Mail Desktop section. The client requires logging in with a Passport address.

Microsoft is supporting Windows Live Mail Desktop during the beta phase, and has setup a special link along with a blog for reporting any problems.

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