The final days of the long-standing Hotmail service has begun, as on Tuesday Microsoft said that Outlook.com, the "world's fastest growing" email service, is now out of preview mode.
The Redmond company launched Outlook.com, described as a "modern email service", as a preview client last summer. Microsoft said it has been "humbled" by the fast pace of adoption since the launch, as more than 60 million people have started actively using the service in just over six months. It's a brand new email service from the ground up, the company claims, all the way from the data center to the user experience.
"Today is a major milestone in our mission to provide people everywhere with the world's best email experience," said Outlook's David Law, Director of Product Management. "You'll also see us kick off a large-scale marketing effort around the world to show that Outlook.com can get you going. And because we're confident that Outlook.com is the best email service available for consumers and ready to scale to a billion people, we'll soon start to upgrade hundreds of millions of Hotmail users to the new Outlook.com experience."
Law said that all people using Hotmail should be "upgraded" by the summer (didn't Microsoft say something similar about Messenger users migrating to Skype?). This upgrade should be seamless and instant, and won't require a new email address, password, vacation replies or rules. Everything will stay the same on a user settings level, but the interface will be different, described as "fresh and intuitive" with lots of new features and better performance.
"Throughout the preview, we learned a tremendous amount from seeing how people used the service," Law said. "Early adopters have told us what they liked, what they'd like to see next, and what we needed to do to make more people switch. And we've used that to add new features and fine-tune the services to scale."
Hotmail was one of the first web-based email services, launched back in July 1996 as "HoTMaiL" by Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith. Microsoft acquired the service in 1997 for around $400 million, then renamed it as MSN Hotmail. Eventually it was rebranded as Windows Live Hotmail and then finally Microsoft Hotmail. Services include unlimited storage, Messenger integration, file hosting and more.