Hotmail Going The Way Of The Dinosaur As Microsoft Opens Outlook To The Public

Hotmail, we hardly knew ye.

Hotmail, we hardly knew ye.

I remember the giddiness of being freed from the yoke of a paid AOL membership, ready to choose my very own email address instead of the one my dad had set up. I probably searched AltaVista or asked Jeeves before finding I could set up a free account at Hotmail.com. It was a heady feeling, one of liberation and unbounded email opportunities. Fast forward to the present, when those still faithful to Hotmail are no doubt mourning its impending demise.

Nowadays it’s a source of comedic joy to giggle at a friend who doesn’t have a Gmail account, or a guy who gives you his email ending with “@hotmail.com” (“Really? Please!). In order to compete in that more Hotmail-deriding world, Microsoft has released Outlook.com to the general public in a move that will shift its email services away from Hotmail.

Users with a Hotmail account will still be able use those addresses, but they’ll be accessed through Outlook’s cloud, notes the Los Angeles Times. Microsoft had a hard think about this move before unveiling it, say company executives.

“It’s not a light brand decision,” said Dharmesh Mehta, senior director of product management for Outlook.com and SkyDrive. “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.”

Despite the fact that pals may snicker over a Hotmail email address, there are still 300 million users of the service, says Microsoft. That’s not too bad, considering Google says Gmail has 425 million users. It all came down to the fact that Microsoft needs to have one email service to present to users, and “Outlook equals email for Microsoft.”

In a fit of nostalgia I tried to access my old Hotmail account and was told there’d been too many attempts to access it so I’m locked out. If only I could remember the security question I set up years ago or still had my first cell phone, I could reset my password and relive my glory days of emailing questionnaires about my favorite colors, songs and what kind of guy I liked.

Microsoft opens Outlook.com to public as Hotmail brand shuts down [Los Angeles Times]