Whenever I'm checking my email, one of two things can happen. I get an email, click on a link, and 20 minutes later I'm not sure how I ended up on Facebook but yes, I would love to attend a dinner party next Thursday. If I'm truly task-focused, however, I'll at the very least end up with a screen full of so many new tabs that I forget which tab I'm on in the first place. Either way, email can set me off on a confusing and messy adventure and Microsoft has an answer I'd love to see become a standard.
Today at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, Microsoft is announcing a new type of interactive email that keeps you focused on getting through your email while still being able to look at pictures, watch videos, accept friend requests and more.
Dharmesh Mehta, director of Windows Live, says that 90% of all email contains links to some deeper content, such as YouTube, LivingSocial, LinkedIn or otherwise and that people receive more than 200 of these types of emails every week.
Last December, the company started helping users with these sorts of emails with something called Active Views. Active Views would take links in your inbox and turn them into embedded content. That way the YouTube link your friend sent isn't just a jumbled collection of characters, it's that video of the cat falling of the table. Or whatever. Whatever the video, you could experience it directly from within your email, rather than opening a new browser tab.
Since December, Microsoft says Hotmail has served up more than 1 billion links in this fashion. That number is about to grow drastically.
The company is announcing a round of new partnerships today. Within these emails, users will be able to immediately respond to connection requests on LinkedIn, add movies to their queue on Netflix, see deals that are active when they open their email rather than old expired ones on LivingSocial and even comment directly on posts sent to them from Posterous.
We asked if we would see Facebook added to this list in the near future and while Mehta said Microsoft didn't have anything to announce on that front at this time, we expect that those Facebook friend requests and event invites aren't far off. After all, 16% of all email in Hotmail is a Facebook notification of some sort.