Earlier this week, Microsoft rather quietly released it's Windows Live Hotmail offering. Along with the release, a replacement for the Outlook Express and Windows Mail desktop clients was announced as well as new software to integrate web mail with Outlook, called the Outlook Internet Mail Connector.
Outlook Express and Windows Mail will be replaced with a new desktop product called Windows Live Mail in the coming weeks. The program will handle POP, IMAP, and Windows Live Hotmail accounts and is supposed to be a faster, more robust version of the Windows Live Mail desktop beta, which will be retired. The new client will merge features found in Outlook Express, Windows Mail, and Windows Live Mail desktop beta.
Windows Live Mail will sport a redesigned interface which supports Vista's Aero look and feel and adds S/MIME and LDAP support. It is supposed to be advertisement free.
In another surprise move, Microsoft is keeping a portion of the Windows Live Hotmail users in "beta" status to continue testing the updates and new features that will be released as the product matures.