Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Hotmail has turned 15 years old this week. It may have fallen out of style, but the web mail service is still chugging along, and Microsoft is continuing to make improvements to the platform. Still, there was a time long ago when Microsoft didn’t own Hotmail, and the service was one of the few – if not the leading – provider of free Web-based email.

Many people laugh and scoff at Hotmail, but it’s still one of the largest email providers on the Web and many people still love and cling to their Hotmail accounts. The service has over 360 million unique users each month, and according to Microsoft, they filter out 98% of all spam messages that come in to the service.

Microsoft is playing up their recent improvements to Hotmail, like making it 10x faster than last year, integrating Facebook chat, and the ability to import and manage accounts from Gmail, Yahoo, and AOL all in the same interface. They’re also touting Hotmail’s integration with Windows Live SkyDrive – a kind of Dropbox competitor – as a quick and easy way to manage attachments like photos and video without having to worry about them clogging up your inbox.

However, even with all of those features, many will assure you that those 360 million uniques are either spammers with hundreds of accounts, or people who are simply keep their old email accounts live, but have long ago moved on.

Regardless of how you use Hotmail, or if you use it at all, it’s a pretty big achievement that the service is still here and going strong after 15 years. When Microsoft initially acquired the service, most people were frightened that they would shutter it, and they almost did when they tried to roll it into MSN Mail, and then again into Windows Live Mail. The Hotmail brand has managed to survive and persevere, and eventually Microsoft embraced it.

Microsoft says they have big plans in store for Hotmail, which is good news when competing services like Gmail continue to evolve and draw new users.

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