Hotmail makes way for Outlook

The end could be imminent for one of the oldest free email addresses on the internet. Microsoft is phasing out its Hotmail service in favour of its new Outlook branding. Fashion is the culprit, as Hotmail increasingly becomes outstripped by hipper brands.

Those with Hotmail addresses are now often seen as victims of inertia, unwilling to embrace the exciting new functions of more up-to-date servers. Although that might be a pretty sweeping analysis of over 350 million Hotmail users who will be transferred to Outlook later this year.

Hotmail was the first mass email address, but that headstart meant it was seen as the default, gateway email service, while others were seen as cooler improvements. "Certainly Hotmail has been stagnating," media analyst Jeff Mann told The Guardian. "Google came along and captured a lot of its cool factor. Gmail became the cool email place."

His suggestion is that a Hotmail address became a stigma in new media circles. He might be ignoring the significance of the majority of users though, who simply aren’t interested in being fashionable, and just want a free email service that does the job. In the UK, there are still twice as many Hotmail users as those with Gmail, and it is still the number one email service in the world.

What will be interesting to see is whether, post-Outlook, Hotmail will attain the cachet of being old-fashioned and old-school, and will be coveted again simply because of its quaintness. Don’t bet against it, as internet users are nothing if not capricious.

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