How Hotmail changed Microsoft (and email) forever?


In 1996, Sabeer Bhatia & Jack Smith founded, the world’s first free web-mail service & a product designed the right way called Hotmail.

Now, Hotmail has rebranded as Outlook. Hotmail had named so because it includes the letters “HTML” the language that uses to create web pages. An extremely convenient feature of Hotmail enables its users to access their Inbox anywhere in the world.

People got amazed by the fact that they can access their email on the web instead of downloading locally via POP. Hotmail was a sure success with record of 8.5 millions subscribes.

“Get your free Email at Hotmail”, a great marketing strategy

The biggest secret of Hotmail’s immediate growth was word of mouth marketing strategy. In the initial phase, a few hundreds users registered with Hotmail but the registrations could not seen as staggering & founders had suggested to add a tagline at the end of every single email to promote their service. They did so & gave Hotmail “Get your free Email at Hotmail” tagline.

This great marketing strategy surprisingly worked for Hotmail. This tagline of Hotmail prompted users to use Hotmail for emailing and consequently invite other users to this ever expanding experience. Every single email sent by an user was virally promoting Hotmail.

Many users of different countries also started using Hotmail & as a matter of fact, it emerged as the first email service provider in many regions. The simplicity & convenient features of Hotmail attracted many users & as a result ,its users grew from a few hundreds to a millions in six months.

Hotmail & Microsoft

In December 1997, Microsoft bought Hotmail for nearly $ 400 million as a part of its MSN group of services. The simplicity of Hotmail had already gained many users and also for Microsoft it gained 30 million active members. Earlier, Hotmail ran on a mixture of FreeBSD & Solaris operating service, later Microsoft moved Hotmail to Windows 2000 and further Hotmail got integrated with various Microsoft’s services like MSN messenger, MSN spaces etc.

Windows Live Hotmail

Microsoft decided to replace the Hotmail brand with its Windows Live brand. But due to the beta-testers’ confusion over the name change, Microsoft took its step back of name changing and kept the name intact.

In 2007, Microsoft released Windows Live Hotmail to its users and migrated 260 millions users to the latest experience.  Windows live Hotmail was a great success among its uses & PC Magazine’s Editor’s has awarded Windows Live Hotmail three times.

It turned out to be a great experience for its users. Users used to get attracted to Windows Live Hotmail because of its given features:

  • ample storage & space
  • 1-click filters
  • Inbox sweeping
  • Active views
  • Firefox support
  • Bing & Widows Live Messenger integration.

But later Microsoft improved Windows Live Hotmail with the integration of Windows Live SkyDrive & Windows Live Office & addition of alias & instant actions.

Launched Outlook

In October 2011, Microsoft  launched  the final version of Hotmail called Outlook and later in 2013, replaced Hotmail with Outlook. Outlook is a web-based package of services like webmail, contacts & calendars. Outlook has also emerged as an widely used email service provider. Many users prefer Outlook for emailing even I also have an outlook account. It supports POP3 and IMAP protocols. It has many prominent features like:

  • Unlimited storage
  • Virus scanning & Spam filtering
  • Language support
  • Email search bar
  • Skype integration
  • Import and Export contacts into Outlook
  • Better privacy controls
  • Quick views & 1-click filters
  • Alias
  • Office online integration
  • Mobile app for Android iOS

It also moved all its users’ Hotmail account to Outlook. It also provided an option to upgrade to Outlook to the users who are an attached user of Hotmail & want to intact their existing account settings, contacts & emails. This option will even intact your email address as & password same as before. Email addressed to your Hotmail account will arrive in your Outlook account inbox & messages sent from your Outlook account will show your return address as

By the above picture, one can seen the transformation of Hotmail. Because of Hotmail, email emerged as a prominent mode of communication. Most of professionals from different industry use hotmail for their office task. Be it any IT sector company like Degions or any other company, hotmail is popular among all.

Globally, many users used Hotmail and are still using Hotmail as Outlook. Because of Hotmail, Microsoft gained 400 million active users of Outlook.

Hotmail as itself provided its users a great experience and did the same for Microsoft after acquisition. So, this is how Hotmail changed Microsoft forever.

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