Goodbye hotmail, hello Outlook.com
August 1 2012: Fifteen years after it acquired Hotmail, the world’s first web-based free email service, Microsoft has finally decided to kill the brand, reshape the offering for a new Cloud-based era -- and rename it Outlook.com.
On July 31, Microsoft used its Office blog to make the announcement of imminent changeover and also launched a site for new users to try a preview ( www.outlook.com ). Current users of hotmail, found themselves led back to their accounts when they clicked on the new URL. Hotmail users have the option of signing in at Outlook.com or can set up a new Outlook account. The new service will be available on smartphones and tablets. But Microsoft says it will phase out the hotmail name -- eventually.
Hotmail remains the biggest email service world-wide with over 325 million users( or 36% of the total web mail market of 1.5 billion), according to comScore Inc. Google's Gmail, has about 31 percent of the market while Yahoo Mail has about 32 percent. In India, Yahoo is the leader.
As the name hotmail is set to fade into Internet history, let’s spare a thought for the Indian made it happen – and gave the world the first FREE email service – Sabeer Bhatia, an alumnus of the Bishop’s School Pune and St Joseph’s Boy’s School Bangalore; of BITS Pilani – and California Institute of Technology and Stanford University, wherehe acquired his final degree, an MS in Electrical Engineering. In 1996, while working at Firepower Systems Inc., Bhatia and a colleague, Jack Smith founded a startup and created the first ever free email service. They called it “HoTMaiL”, to stress that was based on the Internet ‘language’ HTML. In a year Hotmail, had millions of enthusiastic users – and in 1997, it was sold to Microsoft for a reported $ 400 million. In 1998, it was christened MSN Hotmail and in between 2005 and 2009 it was increasingly integrated with Microsoft’s web suite of services, called Windows Live.
Today Bhatia, 44, has put his money into mentoring and supporting Indian innovation on the Internet that has created products like JaxtrSMS and Instacoll. He is also keenly involved in creating an IT hub around Chandigarh.
In its new Outlook avatar, the web mail embraces social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, displaying contacts’ photos alongside email messages. It also lets users toggle seamlessly between Mail, People, Calendar and SkyDrive, Microsoft’s largely free cloud storage service. It also lets users import their contacts and receive email from other accounts. Interestingly, one can send mail from Outlook.com and make it look to recipients that they are getting it from one’s Gmail or Yahoomail.
Here are a few links to US silicon valley media which has tried out the new Outlook, as well as links to Microsoft’s own blog announcement, PDF product guide and a link to try out the product.
For a few days we also feature a video on the new features in our Tech Video spot.
Introducing Outlook.com - Modern Email for the Next Billion Mailboxesby Chris Jones http://blogs.office.com/b/microsoft-outlook/archive/2012/07/31/introducing-outlook-com-modern-email-for-the-next-billion-mailboxes.aspx
Wall St Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444226904577561131545052576.html San Jose Mercury News http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_21203316/magid-tech-hotmail-heads-trash-bin-outlook-com
Preview product guide: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/download/presskits/outlook-com/docs/OutlookcomRG.pdf
History of hotmail: http://windowsteamblog.com/windows_live/b/windowslive/archive/2010/01/06/a-short-history-of-hotmail.aspx
Link to sign up for preview : http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/outlook/home