Microsoft’s email revolution: Hotmail’s transformation into Outlook

By Steven, on June 13, 2023, updated on June 19, 2023 - 3 min read

In a world where communication is key, the evolution of email services has played a significant role in shaping how we connect with one another.

One of the most iconic transformations in email history can be attributed to Microsoft’s acquisition of Hotmail and its eventual rebranding into Outlook.

Let’s journey through the milestones of this transition and unravel the secrets behind the revolutionary changes that have shaped today’s robust email experience.

The humble beginnings of Hotmail: An independent email solution

Back in the 90s, Hotmail emerged as a pioneer, offering users an independent email solution that did not require an Internet Service Provider (ISP) like AOL.

The platform quickly gained recognition worldwide, establishing itself as one of the most popular and user-friendly email services in existence.

Also read : How to Create a vCard in Outlook?

Microsoft steps in: The acquisition and rebranding of Hotmail

In 1997, Microsoft acquired Hotmail and rebranded it as MSN Hotmail. This marked the beginning of the end for the iconic email service as we knew it.

Further institutional changes unfolded in 2005 when Microsoft revealed a new suite of services and products named Windows Live.

This shift aimed to enhance user experience on Windows, intending to phase out Hotmail entirely and replace it with a new mail system – Windows Live Mail.

However, due to users’ preference for the Hotmail brand, it was ultimately renamed to Windows Live Hotmail.

Farewell, Windows Live: The introduction of

The year 2012 witnessed the discontinuation of the Windows Live brand, with some services and products integrating into the Windows operating system while others continued independently or were discontinued altogether.

This juncture marked the arrival of, an updated and improved version of Windows Live Hotmail.

Contrary to popular belief, is not the same as Outlook Online.

  • Existing Hotmail users retained their email addresses,
  • while new users could only create addresses.

Despite the distinction between these addresses, both types employed the same email service.

The ever-evolving landscape of Microsoft email services

Today, Microsoft offers a range of Outlook services and tools to cater to its diverse user base.

These include:

  • Outlook Lite,
  • Outlook Calendar,
  • Outlook Tasks,
  • Outlook Mail,
  • Outlook People,
  • and One Outlook.

In its push for Office 365 adoption, Microsoft released a collection of web apps in 2015 known as “Outlook on the Web”, featuring:

  • Microsoft Outlook Mail,
  • Outlook Calendar,
  • Outlook People,
  • and Outlook Tasks.

Outlook Mail: A modern take on the classic Hotmail interface

Outlook Mail serves as the modern equivalent of the Hotmail interface acting as the front-end for users; meanwhile, operates as the back-end.

While provides the actual email service from Microsoft, Outlook Mail functions as the web email client.

The term “Outlook” can cause confusion as it’s also used to denote Microsoft’s desktop email client.

This ambiguity was further complicated by the transition from Hotmail to Outlook.

A string of successors: From Outlook Express to Windows Live Mail

Microsoft’s journey in providing email clients has seen several updates and changes over the years.

Initially launched with Internet Explorer in 1996, Outlook Express was succeeded by Windows Mail in 2005 and later by Windows Live Mail in 2007.

As of Windows 11, only Outlook retains relevance among these programs.

The legacy lives on: Hotmail’s spirit in today’s Outlook service

Today, represents the current name for Microsoft’s email service, which was once known as

Outlook on the Web (OWA) serves as the web app that allows users to access their email accounts, while Outlook Mail is the desktop email client.

Although the Hotmail brand is no longer active, the essence of its innovative beginnings lives on through the ever-evolving Outlook platform.