Hotmail's new look a no show

An upgrade meant to be a surprise to users of Microsoft's free e-mail service Hotmail surprisingly didn't happen Wednesday. A company spokesman looking into the botched launch said the company had not yet identified a reason for the delay.

Microsoft was expected to roll out a new user interface for Hotmail, bringing the e-mail service used by as many as 110 million people around the world more in line with its other Internet services, such as MSN Explorer, the Web browser included with its MSN Internet service.

The launch was originally planned to take place on Tuesday, but was delayed until Wednesday. There was no word on when the new user interface will now appear. Microsoft briefed reporters on the upgrade in advance.

The new site, flush with a new color scheme and links to Microsoft's early set of Web services, will be the first major upgrade to the service in three years, according to Rebecca Thompson, a product manager at MSN. It is supposed to include a beefed-up junk-mail filter to fight off unsolicited e-mail, or spam, quick links to frequently used contacts, an e-mail template similar to that of Microsoft's Outlook e-mail application, and the addition of Swedish and Dutch to its list of 12 languages supported on the service.

Microsoft has also integrated its MSN Messenger instant messaging service and MSN Calendar, a group calendaring function, into the updated user interface.

The delayed upgrade is the latest glitch to hit Microsoft's Internet group. Earlier this month Microsoft's MSN Messenger service suffered a hardware failure cutting of all or parts of the service to more than 10 million, or one-third, of its users.

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