The Hotmail team has been busy. Three of our favorite new security improvements are:

No more easy passwords. You might know that millions of people use the word “password” as their password. But did you know that millions of people also use “ilovecats” and “gogiants”? Hackers know this. And so do engineers at Hotmail. That’s why, very soon, you will no longer be able to use these weak passwords and others like it. If you already have a weak password, Hotmail might ask you to change it in the future. Find out how to create a strong password.

Help your hacked friends. The first people to know that your Hotmail account has been compromised are often the people in your contact list who get spam from you. Hotmail has a new feature that lets you report someone else’s account has been hacked. You can even report people who use other email providers and Hotmail will send that information to the appropriate people.

For more information, see Help! My friend’s account has been hacked.

Better encryption. If you use the Outlook Hotmail Connector to manage your Hotmail account in Outlook, your email, contacts and calendar are now more secure. The newest version of the Outlook Hotmail Connector adds support of the HTTPS protocol for all communication between Outlook and Hotmail.

 You can manually install the newest version of the Outlook Hotmail Connector 32-bit and 64-bit versions for Outlook 2003, 2007 and 2010 on Windows.

Note: If you don’t know whether your computer is running a 32-bit or a 64-bit version of Windows, see 32-bit and 64-bit Windows: frequently asked questions.

Hotmail has also expanded our SSL protection for other Windows Live services too. For more information, see An update on SSL support.