In news that will be a shock for some, but expected by others, Microsoft have announced that they are closing down Hotmail, the free email service that at the last count had around 350m users. The service will be relaunched as Outlook.com, and Microsoft will undoubtedly be hoping that they can finally sort out the many problems that have plagued Hotmail of late, such as hacking and servers crashing.
Hotmail became the backbone of the Internet when it was in its infancy, and took emailing to the masses in the late 1990′s, and the decision to close it down after 16 years hasn’t been taken lightly. Microsoft have said that their new service, of which you can see a preview by going to Outlook.com., will be re-imagining the way that people see emails, and is the first major improvement made in the world of emails for 8 years.
Despite still having so many members, Hotmail’s popularity has been waning in recent years, and they have been overtaken by Gmail which Google launched in 2007. In just 5 years it has amassed over 425m users, making the 3.5m who still use Hotmail seem negligible. Despite these figures, statistics from ComScore, the web metrics firm, show that Hotmail still saw the largest amount of traffic of all the email services.
In June of 2012, Hotmail had an average of 324m visitors a month, compared to the 290m on Yahoo mail and Gmail’s 278m. Hotmail users are being invited to transfer their email accounts onto Outlook.com, and the relaunch is part of a wide overhaul of the software products that are widely used by Microsoft, which include their Office services and the Windows OS.
Whether Hotmail users take Microsoft up on this or change to a different provider remains to be seen, but whichever way you look of it, one of the bastions of the Internet is leaving us for good.