Microsoft has begun a limited beta test of its upcoming Windows Live Mail Desktop, BetaNews has learned. The offering is intended to provide users of Windows Live Mail and Hotmail with client-side access to e-mail services. While such a feature was previously only available to paid subscribers, Live Mail Desktop would expand the offering to all users.
The Windows Live Mail Desktop client will be similar to Outlook Express in the way it operates, but it is optimized to integrate Microsoft's Live platform. The application would also provide functionality for users of Windows Live Contacts, Messenger, Spaces, and other such services.
According to the team blog, only 100 testers will be able to use the beta initially, though it will expand to about 5000 within the coming weeks. After that it will be much more widely available via ideas.live.com as with all the other Windows Live betas.