Microsoft and Yahoo have both begun testing overhauls of their web mail clients. Here’s an article about the new look for HotMail, scheduled for rollout next year.
The new Hotmail closely resembles Outlook 2003, and supports drag-and-drop, right-clicking, selection of multiple items, and full-featured contacts and calendar folders.
More of you are demanding 24×7 access to your Outlook folders. The improved web mail clients will increase that pressure – it will seem limiting to be cut off from Outlook when you leave the office. Forwarding messages to the web mail clients may become more common.
There is also new Microsoft technology in Exchange Server 2003 that permits connection to your Outlook folders from anywhere, either from Outlook directly in your office or using Outlook Web Access from any Internet browser. I expect it to become more popular and easier to set up – once you use it, it’s impossible to go back. It’s built into Small Business Server 2003, but you don’t need your own server to run it – you can set it up for your individual Outlook folders thru companies like 1and1.com. (Look for “hosted Exchange e-mail” at $6.99/month.)