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A moderator at MSGShit has put up a download of Windows Live Mail Desktop, the closed beta desktop client for accessing Hotmail accounts.

I can tell you that there’s a fairly decent chance it won’t work for you, since you might have to disable your firewall entirely.

Windows Live Mail Desktop should not be confused with Windows Live Mail, the online client, and Windows Mail, the Vista replacement for Outlook Express. It appears that Live Mail Desktop performs three primary functions:

  • Allows accessing of Hotmail/Live Mail accounts outside of a web browser.
  • Enables accessing of multiple email accounts.
  • Upgrades from Outlook Express for non-Vista users.
  • Allows XP users to read RSS feeds from the common feed list.

Before signing in to WLMDesktop, you get a screen similar to the Windows XP logon screen, or the new Windows Live ID service. You can set up multiple accounts here, so everyone in your home can use the program, while protecting their individual email accounts with a password.

WLMD can read email from multiple accounts, access Newsgroups and Active Directories, and read RSS syndication feeds. RSS feeds come from the common feed list, so you can subscribe in Internet Explorer 7, and they will show up in Live Mail Desktop.

Viewing mail in WLMD is similar to Outlook. You get the folder view on the left, and the rest of the screen contains a list of mail messages and a preview of them. Unlike Outlook Express, you can position the preview to the right of the mail list, a very popular Outlook view. Another Outlook feature is that you can flag messages.

Hitting the Contacts link in the lower left-hand corner launches Windows Live Messenger. WLMD shares security zones and connection preferences with Internet Explorer, although it defaults to the more secure Restricted Sites Zone. It contains a spell checker, and is ad-supported.

Anything you are reading, you can click Actions > Blog It to post about it in your MSN Space. There are also inactive options to make voice and video calls.

This isn’t a review. WLMD hasn’t been released, and this leak likely will just piss off the development team. From what I’ve been told, the interface looks a lot prettier (and similar to that in Windows Live Messenger) in the more recent builds given to beta testers.

Still, based on what little I’ve seen here, a lot of people are going to download this program. Basically, anyone who still uses Outlook Express is going to want to upgrade, even with the advertising.

(via Digg)

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Nathan Weinberg writes the popular InsideGoogle blog, offering the latest news and insights about Google and search engines.

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