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Latest Features of Gmail Labs: Comparison with Windows Live Hotmail

written by: Arnold Zafra•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 1/20/2009

Google has been introducing more new features into its webmail service through Gmail Labs - a testing ground for new add-ins and functionalities of Gmail that are still under beta mode. These new features aim to enhance Gmail, in the hopes of making it a prime webmail service.

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    Introduction

    In terms of stability and completeness, Gmail is certainly a young webmail service compared to Microsoft’s Windows Live Hotmail. But, that doesn’t mean that Gmail fails in comparison to Hotmail. Google is definitely up and about in trying to come with ways to improve on its webmail service which has always played catch up with both Yahoo! Mail and Windows Live Hotmail. One of the ways by which Google is trying to improve on Gmail is through Gmail Labs. Gmail Labs is the webmail’s testing ground for new add-in features and extensions of its functionality. While at Gmail Labs, these potential new features can be activated by any user who wishes to give them a try.

    The past couple of months have been pretty busy in the Gmail Labs camp, introducing new features here and about. Here are some of the latest features in Gmail Labs which enhance Gmail’s functionality. All new features can be activated on the Labs tab of your Gmail Settings.

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    The Latest Features of Gmail Labs

    Send and Archive – This simple tool performs the time-saving functions of automatically archiving emails that you’ve replied to. It practically eliminates one step in your email archiving activity. Once you activate this function, a new button will appear on the lower part of your compose form, labeled Send & Archive. Hotmail doesn’t have this capability yet.

    Turn an Email into Google Doc – Here’s another simple and yet useful Gmail tool. This time around it’s with Google’s other pseudo-cloud computing service, Google Docs. This new function lets you convert an email into a Google document. You just need to click the “create a document” button and Gmail will convert the email that you want to use for your Google document. Of course, since Microsoft has no similar product as Google Docs yet, this feature is not part of Windows Live Hotmail.

    SMS Text Messaging for Chat – When Google announced this Gmail feature, it received quite a large amount of buzz from major tech sites. This Gmail feature lets you send SMS messages via Gmail chat using your mobile phone. Your friend can reply to your SMS in the comforts of their home using their PC. Although Windows Live Hotmail doesn’t have this feature, it does have a mobile version which you can visit using your phone to check your Hotmail for important messages. The mobile.live.com portal is customized for mobile phone screen.

    Tasks – Another useful feature of Gmail Labs which received a good amount of hype when it was announced was Task management. Yes folks, its Google’s version of a nifty GTD/Task management tool. The best thing about this function is that it lets you convert emails into a Task entry. This Task management tool pales in comparison to Windows Live Hotmail’s more robust Windows Live Calendar tool which works flawlessly with Windows Live Hotmail.

    Calendar and Docs gadgets – These two functions were announced at the same time, and they do almost the same thing. Being Google gadgets, the Calendar and Docs gadgets let you display your Google Calendar entries and your recently accessed Google Docs on the sidebar of your Gmail Inbox window. The interplay between Gmail and Google Calendar is certainly comparable with Windows Live Hotmail and Windows Live Calendar.

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    There you go, five latest features of Gmail Labs. All five tools are free to use and just need to be activated on your Gmail account by visiting Settings -> Labs . These new features are certainly great additions to Gmail’s standing as a runner-up webmail service. With the way Google has been growing, and if it will give more attention to its webmail service, in time Gmail would be a major force in the webmail market as well, very much like Google Search Engine.