Microsoft is on a run. Windows 8 is in development, a Nokia-Microsoft tablet on it’s way, Kinect is writing history as the fastest selling gadget ever and now Microsoft tries to reinvent email with Active view.
Active View: E-Mail With “Active” Real-Time Content
When it comes to checking email these days, it is hardly ever about the mail itself. You may have work coordinated via email but for most people that coordination has shifted to Skype, Facebook, Google Docs and other instant messenger platforms through smartphones etc. Most of the email that you receive is a notification from something external to your email — like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. You have to go to your browser anyway to get all that done. So why not use your webmail and get that done within the webmail environment itself?
That is exactly what the new Active View feature in Hotmail intends to do. So for example, you can now view Flickr photos, YouTube videos, documents and things within your Hotmail environment. No need to click through to another tab or Window.
Professional online networking site LinkedIn is also going to use live view in their emails. You will still have to go to their website to accept invitations. But when you receive the confirmation email, you can add the suggested people and do other related things from without leaving Hotmail.
According to the Windows Live Mail team, only 10% of the links get clicked in an email but 25% of active view videos are viewed in email.
Real-Time Shipping Notifications + Tracking Status via Fedex
It is even better for US users, who get shipping notifications with up to date tracking status right inside the email.
Even social blogging site Posterous is integrating Active View in to their emails. So you will always see updated content in your emails, including photos and the comments that have been made on them since the mail was sent out.
What Microsoft is doing is that it is simply making the email more like what it already is — a webpage. And automatically updating a webpage with new data is nothing new or difficult to implement.
In the future, you might not even need to get new update emails. You can just have one email that keeps on updating with new content. Now that would be a welcome break from deleting bazillions of update emails that I get everyday!