Microsoft Updates Hotmail

Although Hotmail popularized web-based email, it has fallen behind the competitors Yahoo and Google in features

Down, but not out, Hotmail is still used by millions of people around the world and is still a critical aspect of Microsoft’s online business strategy, especially as Microsoft moves more into the cloud with its more traditional revenue models like Microsoft Office, which is releasing version 2010 this year. Hotmail is particularly useful to non-english speaking users because of its large language support and according to Comscore its still the most used web email with 360 million users compared to Yahoo’s 300 million and Gmail’s 200 million. Still, Hotmail hasn’t changed much since Microsoft bought it in late 1997. This was after starting up in 1996 and garnering over 9 million users.

So what is changing?

Microsoft announced that this summer they will begin rolling out new, advanced features that are akin to what Gmail users are used to:

  • The option for viewing emails as conversations (although the default will still be as single emails)
  • Automatic filter buttons to filter emails from people on your contact list, emails from social networks, shopping sites, and others.
  • Larger attachment sizes, up to 10 GB using Microsoft’s SkyDrive

One thing that remains the same is the huge banner ads running alongside your email, ala 1996, in addition to the text ad tagged onto all of your emails beneath your signature. That is, unless you pay $20 a year to remove the ads.

Our First Web Email

Despite all it’s shortcomings, we still have a spot in our heart for Hotmail, which provided me with my first personal email account, which I still have, back in 1997.