Skip to content

Microsoft Opens to Public, Will Close Hotmail

February 19, 2013

By Gilbert Falso :: 9:14 AM

Hotmail is closing, Microsoft opens to the public.Microsoft has moved its next-generation webmail product,, out of beta and has opened it to the public. In doing so, it will also soon be retiring its old Hotmail webmail portal, and moving users onto the new Hotmail users will still be allowed to use their old e-mail address on the new service.

“It’s not a light brand decision,” Dharmesh Mehta, director of product management for told the Los Angeles Times. “I don’t know of any other company that has hundreds of thousands of users and has changed the brand name. But this is something new, an opportunity to set us up for the future.”

In terms of webmail clients, Hotmail has a long legacy. It was launched in 1996 by Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith, and quickly became wrapped up in the dot-com boom when Microsoft acquired it in 1998 for $400 million.

Hotmail was eventually surpassed by Gmail in terms of number of users, but still remains a major player in the online email game. Currently Microsoft estimates Hotmail has 300 million users – Google pegs Gmail’s numbers at 425 million users.

The move to close Hotmail synchs with what Microsoft is trying to do with its entire product portfolio – move everything onto the cloud. The new Outlook is better poised to take advantage of all of the other hooks Microsoft is building into cloud computing, especially SkyDrive, its online virtual storage application.

Users who move over from Hotmail will keep their old email address and login information, but the interface will be changed from their current experience. The name Hotmail will not appear anywhere on their screens.

The new design of is very closely aligned with the user experience of Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system that launched back in the Fall.

Closing down Hotmail and putting much effort behind may help Microsoft target Gmail users. The company plans on providing tips for Gmail users on how to easily switch to from Gmail. It will attempt to lure them over by offering unlimited storage and not controlling the size of files that can be sent via e-mail attachment.