Today Microsoft announced a number of upgrades to its Windows Live Hotmail service, the web email product previously known as just Hotmail. Included in the upgrades is more storage - free users will get 5 GB and paid users will get 10 GB of Hotmail storage. The free 5GB is nearly double what Gmail currently offers (officially 2500 MB, but my account currently shows 2888 MB). Check out the Windows Live Hotmail blog for full details of the upgrades.

At a high level, what is of interest is how the Windows Live set of properties is being (very) slowly integrated. At the end of June Read/WriteWeb interviewed Brian Hall, General Manager for Windows Live, about the announcement of its "next generation" of Windows Live. Part of that is having a consistent header across Windows Live services. Here is the Hotmail iteration of this:


Click for full screen image

And here is the generic header, via Wikipedia - which further states that this is known as the "Windows Live Wave 2.0 Suite".


Click for full screen image, care of Wikipedia

As of now this Windows Live Wave 2.0 Suite is still fairly disjointed, but at least the integration is beginning to take place in the UI - i.e. the header. Hotmail, Spaces, OneCare and Search are all available in this new header bar.

When you look at the current MSN homepage though, you still see brand confusion. There is no clear distinction between Windows Live and MSN.

In any case, the second generation of Windows Live has more products to come and the header will no doubt continue to evolve. Also Microsoft will eventually release all the pieces of the Live Suite as a single upgradeable download - instead of separate programs and services as they are now.