Outlook.com is a web-based suite of webmail, contacts, tasks, and
calendaring services from Microsoft. One of the world's first webmail
services, it was founded in 1996 as Hotmail (stylized as HoTMaiL)
Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith in Mountain View, California, and
headquartered in Sunnyvale.
Microsoft acquired Hotmail in 1997
for an estimated $400 million, calling it
MSN Hotmail, later rebranded
Windows Live Hotmail as part of the
Windows Live suite of
Microsoft released the final version of Hotmail in
October 2011, available in 36 languages. It was replaced by
Outlook.com in 2013.
1.1 Launch of Hotmail
1.2.1 Security issues
Windows Live Hotmail
1.4 Transition to Outlook.com
1.5 Transition to a new infrastructure
1.6 2017 redesign
2.1 Security and privacy
2.2 Active View
Office Online integration
2.9 Quick views and one-click filters
3 Mobile applications
4 Mail client access
5.1 Popularity with spammers
5.2 Requests for contact details
5.3 US government surveillance
6 See also
8 External links
Launch of Hotmail
Hotmail service was founded by
Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith, and was
one of the first webmail services on the Internet along with Four11's
RocketMail (later Yahoo! Mail). It was commercially launched on July
4, 1996, symbolizing "freedom" from ISP-based email and the
ability to access a user's inbox from anywhere in the world. The name
"Hotmail" was chosen out of many possibilities ending in "-mail" as it
included the letters HTML, the markup language used to create web
pages (to emphasize this, the original type casing was "HoTMaiL"). The
limit for free storage was 2 MB. Hotmail was initially backed by
venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson. By December 1997, it
reported more than 8.5 million subscribers. Hotmail initially ran
under Solaris for mail services and Apache on
FreeBSD for web
services, before being partly converted to
Windows Services for UNIX
Windows Services for UNIX in the migration path.
An old Hotmail inbox layout embedded in
MSN Hotmail inbox from 2007
Hotmail was sold to
Microsoft in December 1997 for a reported $400
million, and it joined the
MSN group of services. Hotmail quickly
gained in popularity as it was localized for different markets around
the globe, and became the world's largest webmail service with more
than 30 million active members reported by February 1999. Hotmail
originally ran on a mixture of
FreeBSD and Solaris operating
systems. A project was started to move Hotmail to Windows 2000. In
Microsoft claimed this had been completed; a few days later
they retracted and admitted that the DNS functions of the Hotmail
system were still reliant on FreeBSD. In 2002 Hotmail still ran its
infrastructure on UNIX servers, with only the front-end converted to
Windows 2000. Later development saw the service tied with
Microsoft's web authentication scheme,
Microsoft Passport (now
Microsoft account), and integration with Microsoft's instant messaging
and social networking programs,
MSN Messenger and
MSN Spaces (now
Windows Live Messenger and
Windows Live Spaces, respectively).
In 1999, hackers revealed a security flaw in Hotmail that permitted
anybody to log into any Hotmail account using the password 'eh'. At
the time it was called "the most widespread security incident in the
history of the Web". In 2001, the Hotmail service was compromised
again by computer hackers who discovered that anyone could log into
their Hotmail account and then pull messages from any other Hotmail
account by crafting a URL with the second account's username and a
valid message number. It was such a simple attack that by the time the
patch was made, dozens of newspapers and hundreds of web sites
published exact descriptions allowing tens of thousands of hackers to
run rampant across Hotmail. The exploitable vulnerability exposed
millions of accounts to tampering between August 7, 2001 and August
Google announced its own mail service, Gmail. Featuring
greater storage space, speed, and interface flexibility, this new
competitor spurred a wave of innovation in webmail. The main
industry heavyweights – Hotmail and
Yahoo! Mail – introduced
upgraded versions of their email services with greater speed,
security, and advanced features.
Windows Live Hotmail
Microsoft's new email system was announced on November 1, 2005, under
the codename "Kahuna", and a beta version was released to a few
thousand testers. Other webmail enthusiasts also wanting to try the
beta version could request an invitation granting access. The new
service was built from scratch and emphasized three main concepts of
being "faster, simpler, and safer". New versions of the beta service
were rolled out over the development period, and by the end of 2006
the number of beta testers had reached the millions.
The Hotmail brand was planned to be phased-out when Microsoft
announced that the new mail system would be called
Windows Live Mail,
but the developers soon backtracked after beta-testers were confused
with the name change and preferred the already well-known Hotmail
name, and decided on
Windows Live Hotmail. After a period of beta
testing, it was officially released to new and existing users in the
Netherlands on November 9, 2006, as a pilot market. Development of the
beta was finished in April 2007,
Windows Live Hotmail was released to
new registrations on May 7, 2007, as the 260 million
accounts worldwide gained access to the new system. The old MSN
Hotmail interface was accessible only by users who registered before
Windows Live Hotmail release date and had not chosen to update to
the new service. The roll-out to all existing users was completed in
Windows Live Hotmail was awarded PC Magazine's Editor's Choice Award
in February 2007, March 2007, and February 2011.
In 2008 it was announced that the service would be updated with focus
on improving the speed, increasing the storage space, better user
experience and usability features, and that sign-in and email access
speeds would be up to 70 percent faster. The classic and full
Windows Live Hotmail were combined in the new release. As
a result of user feedback, Hotmail was updated so that scrolling works
for users who have the reading pane turned off. It was also expected
that Hotmail team would be moving the advertisement from the top of
page to the side, adding more themes, increasing the number of
messages on each page and adding the ability to send instant messages
from the user's inbox in future releases.
Firefox in the upgraded
Windows Live Hotmail took a few
months to complete. By 2009, support for
Google Chrome was still
incomplete, prompting the Chrome developers to temporarily ship a
browser that employed user agent spoofing when making requests to the
Windows Live site.
As part of the update,
Microsoft also added integrated capability for
instant messaging with contacts on the
Windows Live Messenger service.
The feature was the realization of a project that began as "Windows
Live Web Messenger" in 2007, a replacement for the outdated "
Messenger" service that was first introduced in August 2004. It was
noted that the original "
Windows Live Web Messenger" featured tabbed
conversations in a "conversation workspace", however since its
integration with Hotmail this has been removed.
Microsoft's search engine Bing was integrated into Hotmail in 2009
through the introduction of a "Quick Add" feature, allowing users to
add search results from Bing into emails. These include images, maps
and business listings.
"Wave 4" version of
Windows Live Hotmail
On May 18, 2010,
Microsoft unveiled the "Wave 4" update of Hotmail,
which offered features such as 1-click filters, active views, inbox
sweeping, and 10 GB space for photos,
Microsoft Office documents, and
attachments. It also included integration with Windows Live
Windows Live Office, a free version of Microsoft's Office
Web Apps suite. The new version began its gradual release to all
Hotmail users on June 15, 2010 and was completely rolled out on
August 3, 2010.
Exchange ActiveSync support was enabled to all
Hotmail users on August 30, 2010, allowing users to sync their mail,
contacts, calendar and tasks to their mobile devices that supports the
protocol. Addition of full-session SSL was released on November 9,
Microsoft added several new features to Hotmail, such
as aliases and speed improvements. In October 2011, Microsoft
unveiled a "re-invented Hotmail", and added many new features such as
Instant Actions, scheduled Sweep, and Categories and this
update began fully rolling out on November 9, 2011. This update
also made SSL enabled by default on all accounts.
Transition to Outlook.com
Outlook.com, with third-party add-ins within a new message preview
Outlook.com was first introduced on July 31, 2012 when its beta
version was made available to the general public. Existing Hotmail
customers could freely upgrade to the preview version of Outlook.com
and downgrade back.
Outlook.com graduated preview stage on 18 February 2013. According to
Microsoft, the upgrade was deployed on April 3, 2013; the user kept
their existing Hotmail accounts and received the option of having an
@outlook.com email address. By May 2013,
Outlook.com had 400 million
active users. By May 2014,
Outlook.com continued to have 400
million active users.
Transition to a new infrastructure
In May 2015,
Microsoft announced it would move the service over to
what it described as an Office 365-based infrastructure. This was
followed in June 2015 by the introduction through an opt-in preview of
new features, including new calendar layout options, a filtering
service called "Clutter" and new theme designs.
introduced the ability for third-party providers such as
Evernote to include add-ins into the service. Additionally,
contact suggestions and updates from emails such as flight
reservations are due to be introduced to
Office 365 subscribers'
Outlook.com users' from January and March 2016
respectively. With the upgrade, users were no longer able to use
Windows Live Mail 2012 client to synchronize their email, contacts
and calendar event using the official settings; they were encouraged
Outlook.com through a web browser, through the Mail app, or
Microsoft Outlook client. However,
Windows Live Mail
could be configured to use the IMAP protocol (or the less effective
POP3) to fetch mail only.
Microsoft concluded this preview
stage in February 2016, when it began to roll out the new version to
users' accounts, beginning with North America.
Outlook.com 2017 beta
On August 8, 2017,
Microsoft launched a new opt-in beta toggle
allowing users to test upcoming changes to the
including a faster inbox, a responsive design, and the ability to
search for emojis. There was also an introduction of the Photos
Hub, the 5th component of Outlook.com
[better source needed]
On October 30, 2017,
Microsoft announced that it would phase out its
Outlook.com Premium" subscription service, which offered features
such as expanded storage and removal of ads from the user interface.
These benefits were subsequently made available to Office 365
Microsoft will no longer accept new subscriptions to
Outlook.com Premium. Existing
Outlook.com Premium subscribers may
continue to renew their existing subscription.
The old interface, which dated from 2016, will be phased out in
Outlook.com on the side of a bus
Similar to other major webmail services,
Outlook.com uses Ajax
programming techniques and supports later versions of Internet
Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and
Google Chrome. Some of its features
include keyboard controls giving the ability to navigate around the
page without using the mouse, the ability to search the user's
messages including structured query syntax such as "from:ebay",
message filters, folder-based organization of messages,
auto-completion of contact addresses when composing, contact grouping,
importing and exporting of contacts as CSV files, rich text
formatting, rich text signatures, spam filtering and virus scanning,
support for multiple addresses, and different language versions.
One example of a feature no longer present is the ability to create
custom domain names.
Security and privacy
Outlook.com has promised to respect users' privacy, specifically
targeting Gmail's privacy practices.
Outlook.com does not scan
emails or attachments for advertising information and personal
conversations are ad-free entirely.
In March 2014, when former
Microsoft employee Alex Kibkalo was
arrested for his involvement in 2012 leaking of Microsoft's trade
Microsoft came under criticism for having accessed the email
inbox of his French accomplice. Critics claim these actions
violate privacy laws as well as Microsoft's own promises with
regards to users' personal information, while others have pointed
out that such access is permitted under Microsoft's privacy policies
in order to "protect the rights or property of Microsoft",
that it was necessary in order to prevent a crime intended to have
inflicted billions of dollars of damage, and that such action on
Microsoft's part is unprecedented in 18 years. In response to the
Microsoft has announced that it would no longer access
private account information themselves in such cases, but would
instead hand the investigation over to law enforcement
DMARC specifications to provide better security for
message transmission and
Extended Validation Certificate
Extended Validation Certificate to secure the
user's connection with Outlook.com. On April 17, 2013, Microsoft
added two step verification to
Microsoft accounts, thereby by
extension to Outlook.com.
Outlook also allows for a single-use code to be used instead of a
user's password when signing into a
Microsoft account. Each code can
only be used once, but one can be requested whenever needed. If a user
is signing in on a public computer—such as at the library or
school—using a single-use code helps keep account information
secure. The single-use code is sent to the user when requested during
Outlook.com's Active View allows users to interact directly with
contents and functionality within their email message. For example,
any photo attachments can be previewed directly using Active View. In
Outlook.com provides a partner platform which allows
contents and functionality from various websites and services such as
YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn, and the
United States Postal Service
United States Postal Service to be
viewed directly within the email message. For example, users may view
YouTube video within
Outlook.com when a user receives an email
which contains a link to the video. Other Active View features include
tracking of real time shipping status from United States Postal
Service and performing social networking actions on
LinkedIn or other
social networking sites directly from within the email message.
Calendar, as seen in 2016
Outlook's time-management web application was first released on
January 14, 2008 as
Windows Live Calendar, and was updated to the
"Wave 4" release on June 7, 2010. It was updated with Microsoft's
Metro design in a phased roll-out to users from April 2, 2013.
Calendar features a similar interface to desktop calendar applications
such as Windows Calendar, and supports iCalendar files for users to
import calendar entries into their calendars. It uses Ajax technology
which enables users to view, add and drag-and-drop calendar events
from one date to another without reloading the page, and features
daily, weekly, monthly and agenda view modes. It also features a to-do
list function for users to keep track of their tasks to be completed.
Calendar events are stored online and can be viewed from any location.
Multiple calendars can be created and shared, allowing different
levels of permissions for each user.
Outlook's contacts management service was originally known as Windows
Live Contacts and before that,
Windows Live People. It provides users
with access to their contacts' profiles and information, allowing them
to share different information with different groups of people.
Besides an address book, People also provides integrated services with
social media, such as
Facebook and Twitter. The service was
rebranded to its current name in 2012, introducing a new interface
based on the Metro design language that had already been introduced
Contacts are automatically updated in real-time, and the service
allows for the removal of duplicated contact entries when imported
with Profile. Users can also set limits on what parts of their contact
details can be seen by others.
Tasks is task management component of
Outlook.com introduced during
the transition to the Office 365-based infrastructure.
Office Online integration
The shortcut panel, which links various
Microsoft online services,
Outlook.com integrates with
Office Online to allow viewing and editing
Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents that are attached to
the email messages. Users can directly open attached Office documents
within the web browser, and save them into their OneDrive. Users can
also perform edits to any received Office documents, and directly
reply to the sender with the edited version of the document. In
addition, users may also send up to 25 GB of Office documents (up to
50 MB each) using
Outlook.com by uploading these documents onto
OneDrive, and share these documents with other users for viewing or
collaboration. Users can also save emails to OneNote.
A preview version of
Outlook.com started rolling out in the
UK on April 30, 2013. This feature allows users to make a
Outlook.com without using the
Skype desktop client.
Outlook.com offers a "virtual broom" which allow users to delete or
move large numbers of emails into specified folders based on the
sender's information. Once a "sweep" is performed, the user may choose
Outlook.com to remember the sweep settings and perform
the same move or delete actions for any future emails. Users may also
set up custom message rules based on the sender's or recipient's
information, the subject of the email, or attachments to the email.
There is also an option to delete/move messages that are older than a
specified number of days, or only keep the latest message from a
Quick views and one-click filters
Quick views allow users to filter all emails (in all folders) by
document attachments, photo attachments, flagged messages, or shipping
updates. One-click filters allow users to filter the inbox (or
specific folder) based on whether or not the email message is unread,
from the People service list, group mailing lists, or from a social
networking website. Categories appear under quick views for ease of
Users can create additional, unique email addresses, called aliases,
Microsoft account. As of April 17, 2013, users can now sign
in with any alias and create up to 10 aliases per year for a total of
up to 10 addresses. For a given account, all aliases uses the same
inbox, contact list, and account settings—including password—as
the primary address. Once an alias is set up, users can choose to have
all email sent to that address go to the inbox, or to a different
folder. Emails sent from an alias do not reveal to recipients that
they come from an account with other addresses.
Main article: Outlook Mobile
Microsoft has released client applications for Android and iOS,
allowing users to access their inboxes and send new messages. The apps
were formerly known as Acompli, which was acquired by
December 2014, and were rebranded as
Outlook Mobile in January 2015.
Mail client access
Outlook.com supports email clients connecting through the following
protocols, listed in chronological order:
WebDAV was used by
Outlook Express but was discontinued on September
Microsoft Outlook 2002 introduced in
Microsoft Office XP included
integrated support for
DeltaSync was used by
Microsoft Outlook Hotmail Connector, a free
Microsoft Outlook 2003, 2007 or 2010. Using the Outlook
connector, users can freely access email messages, contacts, and
calendars in any
Outlook.com account, though access to tasks and notes
requires a premium subscription. Another alternative for users is to
Windows Live Mail desktop client, which had built-in support
Post Office Protocol version 3 (POP3) access has been made available
for all Hotmail accounts as part of the "Wave 3" release, adding
support to access Hotmail from any email client that supported this
Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) support was added as part of the Hotmail
"Wave 4" release, allowing users to synchronise not just their email,
but also their contacts and calendar on any device that supports
On September 12, 2013,
Microsoft added support for Internet Message
Access Protocol (IMAP) and OAuth.
Popularity with spammers
Like many free webmail services, Hotmail was often used by spammers
for illicit purposes such as junk or chain mailing and unwanted
marketing, due to wide availability, service popularity, and ease of
registration of new accounts. Hotmail amended its service
agreement stating that any account engaging in these activities would
be terminated without warning.
Requests for contact details
The ability to associate
Outlook.com accounts with mobile phones or
other email addresses was initially advertised as an optional
feature. However, an update in 2013 required many users to
associate their accounts before the website would allow them to log in
- a refusal which could be sidestepped by using an app, such as
Windows Live Mail 2011 or 2012, to access the account instead of a web
browser (and it remains possible to "associate" an account with a
one-use, or otherwise 'disposable', e-mail address). Some users
also saw messages that their accounts would expire if they continued
to use them anonymously.
US government surveillance
PRISM (surveillance program)
PRISM (surveillance program) and 2013 mass
According to theguardian.com, several top-secret internal National
Security Agency (NSA) newsletters indicate that
Microsoft has allowed
NSA to access chats and emails on Outlook.com, and implemented a
bypass of its advertised encryption in order to facilitate government
One newsletter entry dated December 26, 2012, shows that
"developed a surveillance capability to deal" with the interception of
encrypted chats on Outlook.com, within five months after the service
went into public testing.
Another entry states that "for Prism collection against Hotmail, Live,
Outlook.com emails will be unaffected because Prism collects this
data prior to encryption".
In response to the report,
Microsoft stated, among other things, that
"when we upgrade or update products we aren't absolved from the need
to comply with existing or future lawful demands" and that "there are
aspects of this debate that we wish we were able to discuss more
Comparison of webmail providers
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Skype for Business
Skype for Business Server
Outlook on the web
Ribbon Hero 2
Discontinued shared tools
Project Portfolio Server
Snapshot Viewer for Access
Information Bridge Framework
Object Linking and Embedding
Office Open XML
Office XML formats
Visual Basic for Applications
Microsoft Product Activation
Office Genuine Advantage
Office filename extensions
Microsoft Office password protection
Office Web Apps
My Windows Phone
WiFi Center & Hotspot Locator
Board of directors
John W. Thompson
John W. Thompson (Chairman)
Satya Nadella (CEO)
John W. Stanton
Senior leadership team
Satya Nadella (CEO)
Amy Hood (CFO)
Gabe Aul (VP)
Richard Rashid (SVP)
S. Somasegar (SVP)
Digital Crimes Unit
Microsoft Redmond campus
Where do you want to go today?
Where do you want to go today? (1994)
Mojave Experiment (2006)
I'm a PC
I'm a PC (2008)
Alcatel-Lucent v. Microsoft
Apple v. Microsoft
Microsoft competition case
Microsoft v. Lindows
Microsoft vs. MikeRoweSoft
Microsoft v. Shah
United States v.
Microsoft (2001 antitrust case)
Microsoft Ireland case
The Blue Ribbon SoundWorks
Fast Search & Transfer
GIANT Company Software
High Heat Major League Baseball
Mobile Data Labs
Nokia Devices and Services
Twisted Pixel Games