Hotmail Adds Exchange ActiveSync Push E-mail + Contacts + Calendar

Hundreds of millions of phones—including Apple’s iconic iPhone—support Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, which allows your phone to be instantly updated with new e-mail, calendar entries, and contact updates. Not only has this instant updating, known as “push,” been an option for Exchange/Outlook accounts from the start, Google beat Microsoft with this feature over a year ago, with its Sync technology.

Now you can get this same push functionality with a Hotmail account. While the Hotmail ActiveSync capability works with iPhones, iPads, Windows Mobile 6.x phones, Windows Phone 7 phones, and Nokia E, S, and N series phones, Google Sync adds BlackBerry to the list. Hotmail’s ActiveSync may work with other devices, such as Android 2.2 phones, but Android 2.1 has a known issue that prevents it from working. Microsoft claims that more devices, including Android 2.2, will be added to the tested-and-approved list in the coming months. Microsoft provides setup instructions for each approved device type on its Windows Live Solution Center site.

I quickly tried the new syncing on my iPhone 3GS, and it worked as advertised for messages, contacts, and calendar entries. By default, three days worth of mail were kept in sync on the phone. And I could also still keep my Outlook/Exchange account in sync, thanks to the iOS 4’s multiple account support. It even supported multiple calendars, but not to-do items. The only tricks to setting it up were to choose Microsoft Exchange as the account type and use as the server.

The feature is a good fit with other new features in the lastest version of Windows Live Hotmail. If you use its Sweep function to clean up your inbox, your changes will automatically show up on your phone. The same goes for contact “de-duplication,” by which you can remove multiple entries for the same person.

You can read more about Exchange ActiveSync for Hotmail, as well as view a video demonstration, on the Inside Windows Live blog, where Dick Craddock, Microsoft group program manager for Windows Live Hotmail, adds that “in the coming months, we will continue to bring out new features and capabilities based on feedback from our users.”

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