MSN Hotmail Joins Storage Race

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-06-23 Print this article Print

Starting in July, Microsoft's Web-based e-mail service will begin providing users with 250MB of storage for free and 2GB for a yearly fee.

Microsoft on Thursday will make official its plans to join the Web-based e-mail storage wars by increasing storage for users of its MSN Hotmail service. Free MSN Hotmail users will be gaining 250 megabytes of storage, up from 2MB today, while premium users, for $19.95 a year, will be receiving 2 gigabytes of storage, MSN will announce. MSNs move follows a firestorm of activity in the Web-based e-mail world after Google Inc. in April entered the market with a test version of its free Gmail service that provides a gigabyte of storage.
Yahoo Inc. last week beefed up its e-mail storage limits, increasing storage for free users from 4MB to 100MB and offering paying customers 2GB inboxes.
Click here to read more about Gmail and the privacy issues it has raised. But not all of MSN Hotmails 170 million users will get the storage increase immediately. MSN plans to roll it out over time, starting in July in the United States. Paying users of its Hotmail Premium service will receive the extra storage first, MSN director Lisa Gurry said. "Our primary goal is to make sure to keep service stable while also introducing the additional functionality," she said. Yahoo faced performance hiccups with the launch of its expanded e-mail service. Gurry said MSN Hotmail increased its storage caps "to take storage out of the consideration set" as the Web-based e-mail market shifts, as well as to meet new demands from users who are increasingly sharing and storing digital media through e-mail. "Weve certainly seen customer demand, but the changing dynamics in the marketplace certainly impacted our decision as well," Gurry said. "We want to make sure we have a leading effort for consumers and are providing a healthy amount of storage." Google officials on Wednesday declined to comment on whether the company plans to match or exceed the 2GB limit being provided by MSN Hotmail, Yahoo and other e-mail providers. Gmail remains in an invite-only beta test, and officials would not say when it will be available to the general public. Users of MSN Hotmails current paid service, MSN Hotmail Extra Storage, will be migrated to a new MSN Hotmail Plus offering. Along with the 2GB of storage, they will be able to send attachments as large as 20MB and will receive an ad-free e-mail interface. Free MSN Hotmail users will be able to send attachments as large as 10MB. For more collaboration coverage, check out Steve Gillmors Blogosphere. Also on Thursday, MSN Hotmail will announce new anti-virus features for all users. Starting in early July, users will be able to clean infected messages in addition to being able to scan them for viruses, Gurry said. Check out eWEEK.coms Messaging & Collaboration Center at for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.

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Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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