Hotmail

In the summer of 1996 hotmail was released to the world and it wasn’t much later that I opened my first account there. It was an innovative email platform that promised to liberate people from their ISP provided email. It was one of my first non-ISP provided email addresses and one I still have. Like today, the mid-1990s was an era of walled-gardens, only at the time they weren’t called Facebook, twitter or Google, but AOL, Compuserve and loads of local BBSes offered by several small ISPs. Service providers were only beginning to adopt their, still current, position as ‘carriers of content and services’ not purveyors thereof. And in this environment, hotmail was innovative, in the same way that netflix, skype and all those other unbundled services are innovative for they liberate you from the increasingly threatening grip of ISPs and the few dominant players that keep entering new markets, doing a bad job at it, but winning ’cause their financial prowess kills the competition in the meantime. I used to use my hotmail account quite a bit between 1997 and 1999. I gave up shortly after Microsoft started really changing it — at the beginning they didn’t do much to it; it still ran on FreeBSD and Solaris. By 2001 it had already lost much of its ‘innovative’ features (and it ran on Windows 2000) and under Microsoft’s ownership it stagnated as other services rendered it obsolete. By 2002, my hotmail account was only used for a few quasi-dodgy online merchants to whom I didn’t want to give a more ‘important’ email address and since GMail took the world by storm with its 1GB offer in 2004, I practically stopped using it alltogether. As such it is now full of enough spam to feed the world twice over. And now, Microsoft decided that hotmail is to be no more, replaced by the title of its equally mediocre monstrosity of an email client, Outlook, and revamped to look like an app of their Metro environment. Yet another one of those early, pioneering web brands of the 1990s is, even in name, dead. Ah well, at least we still have Amazon =)

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