Windows Live Hotmail: a Free Email Service

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Windows Live Hotmail is a free email service that gives you unlimited storage, fast search, solid security, POP access and an interface easy as a desktop email program.

When it comes to organizing mail, Windows Live Hotmail includes many a helpful shortcut and automation. It's a pity IMAP access to all online folders is missing. Note: Windows Live Hotmail is now


  • Windows Live Hotmail is a simple and easy to use free email service akin to desktop email.
  • You can send from other email addresses using Windows Live Hotmail and access your account via POP.
  • Windows Live Hotmail helps you find and organize mail swiftly and lets you send files up to 10 GB per email.


  • Windows Live Hotmail does not offer IMAP access.
  • You cannot save searches as folders in Windows Live Hotmail.
  • Windows Live Hotmail has lost emails at least once in the past (11/03/2009).


  • Windows Live Hotmail offers free email with unlimited storage and support for attachments up to 50 MB each (10 GB per email).
  • Scanning for phishing attempts, viruses, and spam, Windows Live Hotmail protects privacy, security, and sanity.
  • A reading pane, drag-and-drop ease, rich text editing and many keyboard shortcuts lend Windows Live Hotmail a desktop-like handling.
  • Quick views and filters let you focus on mail from contacts, social updates, emails with photos, Office documents, and more.
  • Windows Live Hotmail offers fast search and can bring up emails exchanged with a contact swiftly.
  • You can set up free-form labels to categorize mail. Windows Live Hotmail includes and automatically assigns built-in labels for newsletters, bill and social updates among others.
  • Filters move or delete new mail. They can be applied to the inbox swiftly, too.
  • Sweeping actions help keep your inbox neat by, e.g., automatically archiving or deleting certain kinds of old mail.
  • A vacation auto-responder answers emails in your absence, and integrated Live Messenger lets you chat with contacts.

Expert Review

Slow-loading pages and clumsy operation: the memory of what used to be free web-based email—Hotmail—quickly fades as you drag and drop messages in Windows Live Hotmail, swiftly navigate its "quick" views and reading pane or compose rich emails.

Starting with the interface, Windows Live Hotmail is simple in both a very good and not so good a manner. You can search all your mail easily and use custom folders in tandem with filters to sort it. Windows Live Hotmail does not include search folders, though, or folders that learn from your actions.

How Windows Live Hotmail Helps You Control Email

Automatic folders collect all emails containing photos, emails with Office documents attached, or emails categorized in certain ways. You can create and apply categories yourself, of course, but Windows Live Hotmail comes with a handy assortment (including "Bills", "Newsletters", and "Social updates") built in — and applies them automatically, too. You can also zoom in on mail from contacts or sort out social networking updates and discussion groups fast in any folder. Flags, by the by, smartly pin messages to the inbox's very top (this, alas, does not work in any other folder, though).

To automate inbox cleaning, you can set up filters not only to delete or file incoming mail automatically, but also to archive old mail from certain senders (say, a newsletter) automatically, or to keep just the most recent copy of another sender's missives.

Security and Privacy Are a Big Part of Windows Live Hotmail

Organized or not, Windows Live Hotmail comes with solid security and privacy—it scans for viruses and does not display privacy-infringing images unless authorized, for example. Windows Live Hotmail's spam filter performs reasonably well, erring towards the odd junk in your inbox rather than letting a good email disappear in the "Junk" folder. You can also allow only mail from known senders into your Windows Live Hotmail Inbox.

Accessing Free Windows Live Hotmail

If Windows Live Hotmail still feels too much like web-based email to you, you can use Windows Live Mail and Outlook for yet more Windows-like experiences or download your messages to other email programs and mobile devices via POP. IMAP access, alas, is missing. Of course, you can also opt for the Windows Live Hotmail web interface as your email program, downloading mail from other POP accounts and sending using any of your email addresses.

While Windows Live Hotmail does include solid address book and calendar components, the latter in particular seems secluded and not interested in too much interaction with Windows Live Hotmail qua email.