MSN Hotmail Rolling Out Free ‘Life Management’

Hot on the heels of its big storage boost, MSN is rolling out so-called “life management” features like calendaring, task lists, notes, and reminders to users of its free email service.

The new features, which were previously only available to paying customers, take a page from Microsoft’s desktop mail application, Outlook. They’re also very similar to what’s offered for free by MSN competitor Yahoo

The upgrade, originally announced with the increased storage plans back in June, will be rolled out to more than 180 million free Hotmail users around the world. It launches on Tuesday and will continue over the next couple of days.

MSN won’t be serving any ads on the pageviews the additional features will generate. Instead, the roll-out is a move to build greater user loyalty to the MSN brand.

“MSN’s goal with these Hotmail improvements is to insure that customers are increasingly satisfied with the world’s largest free Web email system,” said Brooke Richardson, product manager for MSN, in a statement.

The online calendar features the ability to send meeting requests, as well as to share calendar entries with family and friends. Icons and color coding allow users to keep track of different types of appointments.

The tasks function lets users to keep track of to-do items and includes reminders, which can go to users’ email addresses or to their mobile phones via SMS messaging. Reminders can also be set up independently of tasks.

Notes let users store important information online, so it can be accessed from any PC with a browser.

The imminent debut of Google’s 1 gigabyte free email service, Gmail, currently in beta, has upped the ante among Web-based email players. Yahoo was first to step up to the challenge, offering a re-design and 100 megabytes of storage for its free service. Paying Yahoo customers get 2 gigabytes. Hotmail in June announced it would begin giving free email users 250 megabytes and paying customers 2 gigabytes.

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