Business Today

Hotmail is hot again

Hotmail is working better than ever, though Gmail has its loyal band of followers. The battle for the soul of the Internet just got more interesting.

Kushan Mitra        Print Edition: June 14, 2009

My very first E-mail address is still active, but, to be honest, I had been using the Hotmail e-mail only intermittently in the last five years. The kushanmitra@hotmail. com address will be celebrating its 13th birthday later this year, dating back to a time when Sabeer Bhatia still ran the company and Internet access at 14.4 kbps cost Rs 15,000 for 500 hours (I pay less annually for an unlimited 384 kbps connection from Airtel today). But recently, despite my love affair with Google Chrome, I was persuaded back to the new and improved Hotmail when I started to give Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8 a spin.

Google and Windows Live are heading into battle and e-mail is their weapon
Google and Windows Live are heading into battle and e-mail is their weapon
Like so many others, I liked Hotmail once upon a time. Frankly, there wasn’t much to choose from back in those days. And so, just as everyone considers Gmail a default official e-mail ID today, in the late 1990s, Hotmail was it.

However, by the time I stopped using Hotmail regularly, the spam filters on the service were abysmal and every second mail was an offer to check out porn. Worse still, the interface was bad and the amount of space on offer had barely increased from the two megabytes that the service had started with. Gmail was like a breath of fresh air: Lots of space and a whole host of features that generally blew the competition away.

So, has the hot new Hotmail lured me back to the loving arms of an exgirlfriend? Not quite. To be fair, I genuinely like the new Hotmail and the interface has been given a dramatic facelift. However, the spam filters can do with some work because I’m still inundated by advertising from matrimonial sites (how do they know?).

That said, most spam is still friends falling for “free laptop” e-mails. While the homepage could do with some work to catch up with the iGoogle page, MSN has far better integration of certain services such as MSN SkyDrive. Google only scores because it has services like Latitude and Google Calendar.

Which one would I choose? I’ll probably keep both IDs and in any case, e-mail isn’t the only way I keep in touch on the Internet, what with social networking sites and Twitter. But between them, Hotmail and Gmail offer enough to make me keep coming back. Both can easily be configured for BlackBerry Connect and Nokia Messaging Service. The only loser I can possibly see here is Yahoo! mail.

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