Microsoft's No Longer in Preview; Bye Hotmail

The final days of the long-standing Hotmail service has begun, as on Tuesday Microsoft said that, the "world's fastest growing" email service, is now out of preview mode.

The Redmond company launched, 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 can get you going.  And because we're confident that 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 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.


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Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then, he’s loved all things PC-related and cool gadgets ranging from the New Nintendo 3DS to Android tablets. He is currently a contributor at Digital Trends, writing about everything from computers to how-to content on Windows and Macs to reviews of the latest laptops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and more. 

  • victorintelr
    I've had this service since we had 3MB for everything, how times changes!
    Now, Microsoft says that they heard what the early adopters had to say..... As long as they don't neglect it like with Windows 8 (don't get me wrong, I like windows 8 but still miss the Start Button) the service should do fine.
  • jhansonxi
    It's not bad but I don't see any compelling reason to switch from Gmail. I suspect that most of the "60 million" are either existing Hotmail users or companies that decided to not run their on Exchange server.

    I also don't really care about the relative privacy issues between the various webmail services. If your emails are not encrypted then assume they're not private. Encryption is much more effective than ethics.
  • itchyisvegeta
    I like my Hotmail. It is no longer no 1, so people don't try to hack it as much. My hotmail hasn't been hacked since 1998..... that I know of.
  • egmccann
    Heh, I've had Hotmail since before Microsoft owned it. Don't really care about the interface - everything comes in via Thunderbird anyway.
  • rocknrollz
    Outlook started out good, and I thought they had finally fixed the spam issue. My box is full of thousands of spam messages.
  • ven1ger
    Never cared for Hotmail especially since it was heavily used by spammers awhile ago. Figured best not to use an email service that gave free rein to spammers back then, may have been changed now but old habits die hard, and gmail serves readily as a personal email.
  • memadmax
    Been using it since the dawn of time.
    Haven't used webpage interface to pull mail off the server anymore, use outlook 2010 to do that. And by the looks of it, it seems like I will be using 2010 for quite a while... Oh well.. If it works good, don't fix it till it breaks!
  • dextermat
    I think instead of forcing outlook down our throats, they should keep the look and option of hotmail and just change the name. Since they claim it's just the "look" that changed. I got a few costumers that are totally lost with windows 8 and the integration of outlook online. Deleting contacts is now weird because you have to left click in the empty space beside the name of the contact. It's just get counter intuitive.
  • cknobman
    I really like the new outlook mail. I am slowly transitioning traffic over to that email as I prefer the interface over gmail.
  • puddleglum
    I started out with hotmail and it was great. Then Microsoft bought it and it went down the tubes within weaks. Something about forcing them to stop using Linux and start using Windows. They eventually gave up on that and brought it back on BSD, but by then I was long gone trying out other email services.