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Old Hotmail.com logo Hotmail.com is one of the most popular webmail service in the entire world - in addition to an increasing number of features, the fact that Hotmail.com was one of the very first webmail services also helps: Hotmail launched in 1996, and was only purchased by Microsoft a year later, when Hotmail.com was re-branded "MSN Hotmail". Today, the webmail service is officially called "Windows Live Hotmail", but known and referred to by most users simply as "Hotmail". In spite of a growing number of alternate free and paid webmail services, Hotmail.com remains today as the top free email provider, alongside Yahoo! Mail and Gmail.

Tip: MSN Hotmail and Windows Live Hotmail are the same service. A few years ago, Microsoft created a separate group (the "Windows Live Team") to take care of all products and services, like the Windows Live Mail email program, all free downloads for Windows users.

Hotmail.com appearance and redesign

The classic version of Hotmail had a look and feel optimized for the browsers of the time, and maintained more or less the same appearance until about 2007. Anyone who signed up for a Hotmail.com account will remember the classic blue look the interface sported:

Old Hotmail.com Classic screenshot

Today's version of Hotmail.com uses a more "pastel" palette, lighter colors, and can be customized with themes. Much of the original functionality remains there, and layers of new features have been added to the mix. Here is a screenshot of the contemporary Hotmail.com:

Modern Hotmail.com interface screenshot

2010 re-design of Hotmail.com

In summer 2010, the Windows Live Hotmail team has released a major upgrade to Hotmail's standard features; the new functionality, however, was accompanied with very few, and minor, interface design changes. For the most part, users will not see any difference between the 2007 redesign and the 2010 updates, which focused on enhanced functionality.

Aside from major redesign milestones, the Windows Live team also adds some functionality or tweaks existing features; for example in 2011, a few menu items were added (hint: move your cursor above links at the top of the screen!)

Windows Live Hotmail 2011 re-design

Throughout 2011, the Windows Live team has been active adding quite a few features to your webmail experience, focusing notably on speed and simplicity; 2011 saw the advent of a new, streamlined interface, and a complete "under-the-hood" overhaul, making Hotmail nearly as responsive as a classic desktop email program.

Brand new Windows Live Hotmail screenshot (2011)
As you can tell from the screenshot above, this is not as big a departure from the previous iteration of your favorite mail service - notice a cleaner layout by default (but you can still add more colors to the experience with Hotmail Themes!)

Hotmail.com features

The 2005 (was not rolled out until 2007, except to early testers) redesign of Hotmail.com took advantage of the new functionality for which web browsers have added support over the years, and in many respects the new Hotmail.com is closer in experience to a full-fledged email program than the original Hotmail.com, which did not attempt to emulate a desktop email client like Outlook Express or Microsoft Office Outlook.

Hotmail.com now supports drag-and-drop support, so you can simply drag the emails you want into a selected folder, while the original Hotmail.com approach of using checkboxes still works as well. You can now also use Hotmail keyboard shortcuts, the same way you can with a regular desktop email program (again, features added to the new Hotmail to take advantage of modern web browsers).

And the modern Hotmail.com experience can be customized to a level much beyond the basic options and settings you could tweak in the original incarnation of Hotmail. The Windows Live team that maintains and upgrades Hotmail is also the same group of people who bring you an email program designed to work seamlessly with the Hotmail service (and does support other email providers as well).

Get your own Hotmail.com account

The next Hotmail tutorials will guide you through the process of creating a new Hotmail.com email account, the Hotmail sign in process, your Hotmail inbox, etc.

While "Hotmail" and "Hotmail.com" remain in use as a legacy, the official name of the service is now "Windows Live Hotmail", the webmail portion of Windows Live's offerings, and the domain name for Hotmail is now "live.com" - something you can see in your web browser's address bar when you are looking at your Hotmail emails (and you can of course still type Hotmail.com to go check your emails).

Hotmail.com hosted on Live.com mail servers

Hotmail Tutorial The new Hotmail Hotmail.com Create a Hotmail account Hotmail sign in Hotmail sign out Read your Emails Read your emails Show images and content Download attachments Delete email messages Delete all emails from a person Unsubscribe from mailing lists Mark emails as Unread / Read Hotmail Instant Actions Unflag / Flag email messages Hotmail Quick Views Compose & Send Emails Hotmail email Reply to emails Forward emails Compose a new message Formatting emails Send attachments File attachment size limits Add pictures to your emails Create a signature Sending emails Send mail from other accounts Send plain text emails Change importance of emails Select multiple emails Spam & Junk Mail Filtering Mark spam email as junk mail Spam and junk mail settings Block email senders Unblock email senders Report phishing scam emails Standard Hotmail Folders The standard folders Hotmail Inbox Hotmail Junk folder Hotmail Drafts folder Hotmail Sent folder Hotmail Deleted folder Show or hide email folders Custom Hotmail Folders Create a new folder Rename a folder Empty a folder Delete a folder Mark an entire folder as "Read" Hotmail Contacts Hotmail Contacts Add a sender as contact Create a new contact Edit contacts' information Delete a contact Remove duplicate contacts Import contacts into Hotmail Export Hotmail contacts Contact categories Copy / transfer Hotmail contacts Add picture to contacts Block emails from non contacts Add Safe Senders to Hotmail Hotmail Tips and Tricks Hotmail Tips View email headers X-Originating-IP Show / hide basic headers View emails full screen Check for new emails Print email messages Hotmail Help Add another email account Check another email account Sort your emails Find emails with "Search Tool" Create email filters Automated vacation replies Use Hotmail as default email Hotmail account start date Configure Hotmail Settings Customize Hotmail Options Hotmail Login Hotmail accountCheck last Hotmail accessChange "From" name in emails Change password Reset your Hotmail password Change security question Forward emails to other account Skip "Hotmail Today" Change Reply-to email address Disable sent email confirmation Show conversations / threads Disable conversation grouping Disable photo / video previews Change Hotmail language Hotmail.com in English Hotmail.com en Español Change country setting Change birthday / birth date Keyboard Shortcuts Delete your Hotmail account Reading Pane Settings Change Theme Switch back to the old Hotmail Save / delete sent messages Change Hotmail address Change profile picture Change Hotmail account Other Products & Services Hotmail Messenger Hotmail Messenger Download Hotmail Plus Cancel Hotmail Plus Hotmail Customer Service Hotmail Live Hotmail Kids Set Hotmail as homepage in IE Hotmail as homepage in Firefox POP & Mail Server Settings POP3 settings IMAP Settings Incoming Mail Server Setup Hotmail on iPhone Hotmail Outlook settings You've reached the daily limit Outlook Connector Hotmail Gmail Hotmail Yahoo!
Tutorial last updated on February 19, 2012
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