Apple iOS 4

Pros: Free; multitasking and folders are important updates; many enterprise features and small niceties Cons: Not all features are available on older devices; no iPad update yet; no answer to Windows Phone’s integrated apps approach

Rating: Four out of five

Recommendation: Apple iOS 4 is a nice update to an already impressive smartphone platform, with multitasking, folder support. Even those with more antiquated hardware can take advantage of some of the iOS 4 features, and when you factor in the price—free—and Apple's aggressive habit of obsolescing old hardware, that ain't bad at all. Apple iOS 4 puts the iDevice world—iPhones, iPod Touches, and, eventually, iPads—on par with what's happening over at Google with Android. Looking ahead, Windows Phone 7 still retains its single important advantage—a rejection of the app-based interface metaphor—and that's something Apple will need to address by the next-generation iOS release. But when it comes to technical prowess, capability, and usability, iOS 4 really delivers.

Contact: Apple

Discussion: SuperSite for Windows: iOS 

 

Hotmail (2010 Update)

Pros: Free; finally supports Exchange ActiveSync; email de-clutter features really work

Cons: Performance efficiency issues; EAS only works on mobile devices and not PC clients

Rating: Three out of five

Recommendation: With an important mid-2010 update, Microsoft's popular web mail client almost gets what it needs to take on Google's excellent Gmail service. Almost. On the good-news front, Hotmail picks up Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) support, allowing it to push sync email, contacts, and calendars over the air with mobile devices like the iPhone or those based on Google Android. It adopts decent Inbox anti-clutter features that actually work. And it offers nice integration with various Microsoft online services, including Live Photos and, more important to business users, Office 2010 and SkyDrive web storage. On the minus side, Hotmail is still a performance dog compared to Gmail, and it’s slow to update the Inbox with new messages. It's also less efficient, with annoying interim screens that pop up after responding to messages. Too, Hotmail's ads are a lot heavier than what Google offers. It’s a mixed bag: The new Hotmail is good enough to retain existing users but not good enough for most Gmail users to consider switching.

Contact: Microsoft 

Discussion: SuperSite for Windows: Hotmail