From ArticleWorld

Hotmail is a free webmail service maintained by Microsoft and a major competitor in the free e-mail field. It earned an important place in the e-mail world, along with the likes of Gmail, Yahoo! Mail or AIM Mail.

Hotmail was launched commercially on July 4 1996, as a symbol of freedom from ISPs. The idea was to launch an e-mail service accessible anywhere, through a simple web browser, in order to get past the restrictions imposed by corporate firewalls that were not allowing ordinary e-mail traffic. Hotmail achieved a great deal of popularity, with more than 8 million subscribers in 1997, when it was purchased by Microsoft.


Hotmail offers a 250 MB disk quota with a 10 MB attachment limit at account activation for users in US, Canada, UK, Brazil, Spain and Australia. Users from other countries initially have a 10 MB inbox, but the size is later increased to 250 MB, a solution with much controversy. An increased amount of space (2 GB with 20 MB attachment limit) is available, but for a fee.

Even though there is no POP3 support available, users can check their e-mail using Microsoft's Outlook programs, Microsoft Entourage or using Mozilla Thunderbird with an extension. In 2004, Microsoft announced that this would become subscription-based, but, even at the time of writing, free users can still benefit from this feature.

Starting from 2004, Hotmail also offers country-specific domains. This was also done because many addresses were already taken, due to the high number of subscribers.

The OS debate

In 1998, Hotmail was known to use Solaris and BSD operating systems, a fact regarded with much amusement by the anti-Microsoft community. Even in 2001, a significant number of servers were still running open-source software.

This was not the only source of sarcasm from more experienced users. Not all web-based functions are provided on non-Microsoft browsers. More precisely, the right-click context menu is not available, which was the source of significant criticism.