Who Owns Hotmail Email? The Answer Traces Back to This Tech Industry Leader

Who Owns Hotmail?

Once the most popular free webmail service, Hotmail has changed hands several times over its 25+ year history. But who owns this iconic email provider today? The answer may surprise you.

Hotmail was one of the first free webmail services when it launched in 1996, gaining millions of users quickly. Over the years, ownership of Hotmail has changed as the email and tech industry has evolved.

Original Creation and Ownership

Hotmail was created in 1996 by Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith, two entrepreneurs who saw the potential for free web-based email. Initially owned and operated independently by Bhatia and Smith’s company Hotmail Corporation.

Microsoft Acquisition

In 1997, just a year after launch, Microsoft acquired Hotmail for $400 million. This gave Microsoft a foothold in the free webmail market and millions of new potential Microsoft software users. Microsoft integrated Hotmail deeply into its Windows and MSN brands throughout the late 90s and early 2000s.

Transfer to Windows Live Platform

As part of a rebranding strategy, Microsoft moved Hotmail to its Windows Live platform in 2005, rebranding it as “Windows Live Hotmail.” This aligned Hotmail with Microsoft’s other web services like photo sharing, storage, blogging etc.

Outlook.com Rebranding

In 2012, Microsoft rebranded Hotmail again as Outlook.com as part of launching its next-gen email service. This rebrand aligned email with the popular Outlook desktop software.

Hotmail Today

While new users sign up for Outlook.com accounts, @hotmail.com addresses are still active. Millions of early Hotmail users still use their original addresses. So Outlook.com and Hotmail essentially now represent the same Microsoft-owned email service.

While originally created independently, Hotmail has been owned by Microsoft for over 20 years. It has gone through several rebrandings from Hotmail to Windows Live Hotmail to now Outlook.com, but millions still use their original @hotmail.com accounts, now part of Microsoft’s webmail services.

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