Happy Birthday to Hotmail | BroadbandDeals.co.uk
Last week saw the 22nd anniversary of Hotmail’s founding. Launched in 1996, its founders, Californians Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith, introduced one of the first webmail services on the Internet, alongside RocketMail which would later become Yahoo Mail.
Its introduction symbolized freedom of access for all, especially from ISP-based email, providing the ability to access an inbox from anywhere in the world. Sadly, it was also known to be a spam magnet and one of the biggest cybersecurity traps of all time.
The biggest feature of Hotmail was that it allowed users to create their own email account and view their messages in the browser, without being tied to a specific provider. This freedom represented the best of those early pioneers who saw the Web as a liberating experience for all.
It seems strange now when it could boast of 2MB of free storage, but in 1996 PCs only had between 4MB and 8MB of built-in RAM.
Hotmail’s user base quickly grew to 8.5 million email senders and quickly caught the attention of the Microsoft monolith, which bought it for $ 400 million in 1997. Under their leadership, it grew to 30 million active users.
But they soon found themselves competing with Yahoo Mail! then later with the all-conqueror Gmail from Google which saw the light of day in 2004.
In 1999, a security flaw that could only be described as catastrophic emerged when it was revealed that any potential hacker could access any account just with the user’s Hotmail nickname. At the time, it was called the most prevalent security incident in web history.
2001 saw further security breaches with hackers able to retrieve messages from another user’s mailbox. The attack was so simple that by the time the fixes were released, dozens of newspapers and hundreds of websites had published exact descriptions of what to do next, allowing thousands of hackers to spread. on Hotmail.
Like many free webmail services, Hotmail has become a magnet for spammers. Due to its high availability, popularity, and ease of registration, spammers have bombarded it with spam, chain mail, and junk marketing.
And as Gmail became dominant, Microsoft introduced rebranding and redesigns, eventually renaming it Windows Live Hotmail in 2005. And finally, in 2012, the service became Outlook.com when Microsoft finally transposed the messaging component in Microsoft’s office suite.
Today Outlook.com can boast over 500 million users, but these are pale in comparison to Gmail’s billion.
Gmail and Outlook.com are now heavily integrated into their respective parents’ application suites, and the two “free” offerings are now little more than an introduction to the premium subscription rather than the free service envisioned by the original creators. from Hotmail.
So, take the time to raise your glass to an innovative service that is easy to use and accessible free of charge to all. Oh, those naive founders.