Push, Over-the-Air Access to Mail, Contacts, Calendar and Tasks Arrives Soon!
One of the most eagerly awaited features of the new version of Hotmail--see my review--is the availability of Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) support. This technology gives you over-the-air, push access to your Hotmail-based email, contacts, and calendar on supported mobile devices, including those based on Windows Mobile, iOS (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad), Nokia, Palm, and, soon, Windows Phone 7. I've been using EAS for a few months now with multiple Hotmail accounts on various iOS devices and, more recently, on Windows Phone. And it's as good as you were hoping, though support varies by device. (Microsoft tells me that Android is currently not fully compatible with EAS at the moment, but I tested that as well.)
Before my observations, here's the information I know you've been dying to find out: The device settings for enabling Hotmail EAS are:
URL or Server: m.hotmail.com
Username: Your full email address, e.g., email@example.com
Domain: Leave blank
Certificate: Accept the SSL certificate when prompted
Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Tasks: All of these can be enabled (if supported by your device)
Note: This service will become publicly available on August 30, 2010.
As noted previously, support varies by device. Apple's iOS-based devices support multiple EAS accounts, each with email, contacts, and calendar syncing, including superb, color-coded support for multiple calendars within each account. (There's no tasks support.)
Hotmail EAS configuration on the iPhone.
Multiple Hotmail-based Calendar accounts configured on the iPhone, in aggregated view.
Color-coded Hotmail-based Calendars in the iPhone's Calendar app.
On Windows Phone 7, you also get support for multiple EAS accounts, each with email, contacts, and calendar (but not tasks) syncing. However, Windows Phone is limited to syncing only the primary calendar in each account. It does offer calendar color coding between multiple accounts, however. (On an interesting side note, it's possible to configure Hotmail accounts on Windows Phone using the stock Windows Live account type or the Exchange type. Both work the same, but have different icons, so if you want an Outlook 2010-type icon on your Mail app's live tile instead of the Windows Live Mail icon, use the Exchange account type instead.)
Multiple EAS accounts configured on Windows Phone.
Windows Phone's Calendar application.
The only Android-based device I have for testing is a first generation Verizon/Motorola Droid. That said, it appears to work fine despite Microsoft's warning: I was able to sync email and contacts after configuring the Email app for Hotmail (though the email address must be entered as \firstname.lastname@example.org with that slash, \, at the front). And I sent a few test emails successfully.
Ultimately, there's not too much to say here: Hotmail EAS support has finally arrived, and it works. If you've been waiting--and based on my email, many of you were--then the day you were waiting for has final arrived. Enjoy!