Windows Live Hotmail from Microsoft is probably the second most popular web based email service in the world – right after Yahoo! Mail (check Gmail usage statistics for details). It offers both free and paid (Hotmail Plus) email accounts.
Simply known as “Hotmail” when it was launched in July 1996, it was acquired by Microsoft in December 1997 with its 8.5 million subscribers for a huge sum of $400 million. Under Microsoft, the email service got a tremendous boost and became the number one provider. Now, however, things have been kind of tight for Windows Live Hotmail (as it is now called) with stiff competition from Yahoo! Mail and the entrance of Gmail with its 1GB free email accounts and tons of free features.
Hotmail free email account features
The following is the list of some of the important features of the free email accounts from Windows Live Hotmail service.
- Storage Space: Ever increasing storage just like Yahoo! Mail accounts that have unlimited inbox space. Gmail gives a tad more than 7.5GB.
- Attachment size: 25MB which is same as that of Gmail.
- Forwarding: Emails can be forwarded to another email account but you must remember to log in at least once in 90 days to avoid having the Hotmail account deleted automatically.
- POP access: Hotmail provides free POP access to all its subscribers. This means the messages can be downloaded and stored on your local computer using any email client. Earlier, one could download Hotmail emails only through Microsoft programs like Windows Live Mail or Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 and 2007 through Microsoft Office Outlook Connector.
- Email client access: Hotmail POP3 settings help you to download messages using your favourite client as long as it supports the Post Office Protocol (it should). Heck, you can now get Hotmail on the iPhone. Below are links to articles that have instructions for some popular Microsoft clients:
- Virus scanning and security: Any online email service worth its salt scans all incoming email and attachments for viruses and worms. Windows Live Hotmail uses Trend Micro virus scanning.
- Spam filter: All email accounts attract spam. And Hotmail’s spam filer does a decent job. It puts all potential spam into the Junk folder.
- Languages available: 35
- Account expiration: Free accounts expire after 90 days of non-activity.
- Advertisements: Free Hotmail accounts are obviously ad supported. A big banner advertisement is displayed to the right of the list of email. However, at the time of writing, the banner is removed when you are composing a message which is a good things because flashy ads are a little distracting.
- Folders: You can create folders in Hotmail to manage your email messages; users can now also create sub-folders.
- Themes: Change the colors and images in the account interface to suit your mood. Personalize and customize your Hotmail account.
- Email composition: Emails can be composed using rich text that offers basic formatting of the message like changing the color, font size, font weight etc of text.
- Spell checker: Spell checker is included so you have no excuse for sending emails full for spelling errors.
Hotmail Plus features
The paid Hotmail accounts cost $19.95 per year and come with added features absent from the free accounts.
- Storage space: Unlimited or ‘ever-growing’… means the same thing.
- Email attachment size: 50MB – double that of the free account.
- Account expiration: Never, as long as its paid for.
- Advertisements: No sort of advertisements at all.