Hotmail

Hotmail: Hotmail was a free web-based email service.

What is Hotmail?

Hotmail was a free web-based email service. It was acquired by Microsoft in 1997 form its founders and was launched as MSN Hotmail. It was later rebranded as Windows Live Hotmail and was part of the Windows Live suite of products. Eventually in 2013, it was replaced by Outlook.com, when Microsoft sought to follow Google, and attempted to attach its various services to a single account. Outlook.com features unlimited storage, and Ajax. It also allow integration with other Windows products, such as Calendar, SkyDrive, People and Skype.

When was Hotmail founded and by whom?

Hotmail was founded by Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith in Mountain View, California, USA in 1996. Bhatia and Smith were backed by venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson. Hotmail was originally styled as “HoTMaiL,” to emphasize the fact that the webservice was based on HTML. In 1997, Microsoft acquired Hotmail from Bhatia and Smith for an estimated $400 million.

Why was Hotmail so popular?

At the time that Hotmail was launched, it was one of the first webmail services available on the Internet. Its only main competitor was Four11's RocketMail, which later went on to become Yahoo! Mail. Hotmail touted the fact that the user could access hit account from anywhere in the world. Before this, the only option was ISP-based e-mail, which could only be accessed from your own internet connection.

Another advantage was that Hotmail was free. Anybody could create an account and they would receive 2 MB of storage for free. 2 MB of storage was quite a big deal in 1996. This helped get Hotmail very popular in a very short amount of time. In fact by December 1997, Hotmail had more than 8.5 million subscribers.  

When did Hotmail become Outlook?

In December 1997, Microsoft purchased Hotmail for approximately $400 million. It was then rebranded as MSN Hotmail. The backing of a popular name such as Microsoft, just helped make Hotmail more popular than ever. By February 1999, MSN Hotmail had more than 30 million users. It was officially the world's largest webmail service.

In 2007, Microsoft released its new email system, which was supposed to be named Windows Live Mail. However, as people were more familiar and trusted the name Hotmail, the new e-mail system was launched as Windows Live Hotmail. By October 2007, all existing members were shifted onto the new system.

In 2008, Windows Live Hotmail came out with a new version, which Microsoft claimed was focused on improving the speed, increasing the storage space, better user experience and usability features, and that sign-in and email access speeds would be up to 70 percent faster. The upgrade also added instant messaging capabilities with contacts on the Windows Live Messenger service.

In 2010, the service was updated yet again. This version called the “Wave 4” of Hotmail, contained 1-click filters, active views, inbox sweeping, and 10 GB space for photos, Microsoft Office documents, and attachment. Additionally, it also included integration with Windows Live SkyDrive and Windows Live Office.

In 2013, Microsoft decided to retire Hotmail completely and transitioned to “Outlook.com.” All members were then transitioned to Outlook. They did have the option of retaining their @hotmail.com email address, password, messages, folders, contacts, rules, vacation replies, etc. They also had the option of changing to a @outlook.com email address. Still, Outlook proved popular as in May 2013, Outlook had 400 million active users.

Image Courtesy: liveside.net, itpro.co.uk

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