MSN Hotmail Nears Storage Finish Line

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-11-18 Print this article Print

Months after announcing plans to join the e-mail storage race, Hotmail extends more free storage to new users and gets closer to finishing the upgrade for existing customers.

As part of an effort begun five months ago, MSN is extending its higher Hotmail storage limits to new customers and is in the final stages of giving additional storage to current customers. Microsoft Corp.s Internet division on Thursday started offering 250 MB of storage to new users of free Hotmail accounts in the United States and eight other countries. New accounts previously received 2MB of storage. As for current Hotmail users, the majority has gained the added storage and the rest will be upgraded over the next few weeks, said Brooke Richardson, MSN lead product manager. Hotmail has about 187 million customers worldwide.
The added storage is the last major piece of an upgrade to Hotmail that MSN began in late June, Richardson said. Other additions announced Thursday were a photo-sharing feature and support for country-code domain names.
Hotmail is following a storage race among Web-based e-mail providers. Yahoo Inc. earlier this week increased its free mail storage to 250MB after an earlier boost to 100MB. Google Inc. started the trend when it launched its beta of Gmail with a gigabyte of free storage. Some Hotmail users, though, have groused about how long it has taken MSN to complete the storage boost. MSN had e-mailed users about the added storage in the summer, but converted paying customers for its premium service first. Premium users receive 2GB of storage. As one Hotmail customer wrote in an e-mail to, "My Yahoo account upped my storage within a month. Hotmail sent a notice of upgrade months ago and has since only sent notices of how convenient a premium account would be." Richardson acknowledged that the storage upgrade for free accounts took longer than MSN anticipated, though the company originally said it would complete the upgrade in the fall. "We could have been better at setting expectations with customers about the rollout," Richardson said. "It has been a huge undertaking for us, and we have a huge customer base and a lot of storage to bring online." New Hotmail users will get the storage in two steps. They first will receive 25MB of e-mail storage as MSN verifies that the accounts are for legitimate senders of e-mail and not spammers, Richardson said. After 30 days, they will gain the full 250MB of storage. The increased storage also comes with an increase in the maximum attachment size to 10MB for free accounts. A new photo-sharing feature in Hotmail lets users browse thumbnails of digital images and include multiple photos in an e-mail with one click, Richardson said. The feature also compressed the image files. Users in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Japan now can use country-specific domain names for Hotmail accounts. So, rather than having an address at "," a U.K. customer could use "" as an address. Hotmail is taking another step toward implementing Sender ID, an e-mail authentication method Microsoft is backing. Hotmail will begin supporting Sender ID in its server architecture over the course of this week as it can test the specification. What s happening with Sender ID? Click here to read more. Richardson said Hotmail users would not yet gain verification of the identity of e-mail senders. Hotmail is still working on how to implement it for users. Check out eWEEK.coms for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.
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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