Microsoft's Hotmail phase-out: What's a user to do?

Microsoft's Hotmail phase-out: What's a user to do?

Summary: Microsoft is moving all of its Hotmail users to Outlook.com by this summer. Here's what the hundreds of millions still using Hotmail need to know about the transition.

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Microsoft announced earlier this week that it is closing Hotmail and moving the "hundreds of millions" still using it to Outlook.com by this summer.

hotmailupgrade

The move isn't unexpected, but perhaps more sudden than some anticipated. Hotmail users, once they move (or are moved) will get Outlook.com's clean, Metro-Style interface for their mail -- and ultimately, calendars. (For a walk-through of the UI changes Hotmail users will see, check out this Microsoft FAQ.)

Given that many of the new features in Outlook.com -- Microsoft's new Web-mail service that is no longer in "preview," as of this week -- are already part of Hotmail, the Outlook.com experience (beyond the UI itself) shouldn't be too jarringly different.

Microsoft provided guidance last summer for those who wanted to proactively make the Hotmail-to-Outlook.com move. There's not much required on users' parts to make this happen. But some users still have questions. And different folks around the Web have answers.

Q: How much warning do users get before Microsoft move an existing Hotmail account to Outlook.com?

A: There will be several e-mails first prompting people to upgrade on their own.

Q: If I move my Hotmail account to an Outlook.com account, can I change my mind and go back?

A: At this point, no. (When Outlook.com was still in "preview," Microsoft did allow this.)

Q: What happens to all my stored Hotmail once I am moved off Hotmail to Outlook.com?

A: Everything moves over. If you click the upgrade button it takes maybe a few seconds, but all your existing messages auto-populate and carry over.

Q: Which browsers support Outlook.com?

A: Outlook.com is optimized for Internet Explorer 8, 9 and 10; Google Chrome 17 and higher; Firefox 10 and higher; Safari 5.1 on Mac. It also works relatively well on IE 7, Google Chrome 16 and 5; Firefox 9 and 5; Safari 5.1 on Windows and Safari 5 on Windows and Mac. It doesn't work at all on IE 6 and older; Google Chrome 4 and older; Firefox 4 and older; and Safari 4.X and older.

Q: What happens if my Microsoft ID/Windows Live ID is tied to Hotmail? Do I have to get a new one and change my accounts?

A: No. If you use an @hotmail.com, @msn.com or @live.com e-mail address as your Microsoft account, you can keep it, even after Hotmail is shuttered. "Think of this the same way as you would changing your mobile phone carrier. You are simply moving to a better service, but your 'number' (in this case your Microsoft account and email address) stays the same," a Microsoft spokesperson explained.

Q: I already created a separate, new Outlook.com account. So once my existing Hotmail account is moved to Outlook.com, what happens? Will my two Outlook.com accounts be merged?

A: There is no way to actually "merge" these accounts. But you can connect these two accounts and then toggle back and forth by linking them. To do this, go to account settings and select the permissions tab. Click on "manage linked accounts."

Q: Users are being allowed to keep their Hotmail addresses if they want. Wasn’t a big part of creating Outlook.com a plan to get rid of the tired/tainted Hotmail brand?

A: "The simple fact is that many people are attached to their email address. We do expect a certain number to want a new Outlook.com address (which is great); others will want to keep their Hotmail address. Either is fine since they will all get to use the new service," a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed.

Q: When will Microsoft update the calendar in Outlook.com so that it is Metro-Style, instead of Hotmail-Style?

A: Microsoft officials aren't saying anything other than what they've said since summer 2012, which is "soon."

Q: When will Outlook.com be integrated with Skype?

A: Also "soon." No further word from the Softies on the timing.

Q: Can I configure my mobile devices -- including Windows 8, Windows Phone, iOS and/or Android phones to use Outlook.com?

A: You can. Here's how to do this for Windows 8 and Windows Phone. And here's guidance for iOS/Android phones (all courtesy of Windows SuperSite's Paul Thurrott.)

Topics: Collaboration, Cloud, Microsoft, IT Policies

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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88 comments
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  • What's a user supposed to do?

    Why switch to gmail of course...
    CaviarGreen
    • Why would someone want to downgrade to gmail?

      Your statement make no sense.
      John Zern
      • It's an upgrade, John Zern

        Away from M$ shills like you.
        CaviarGreen
        • Hotmail users don't like to be $croogled

          Unlike you.
          LBiege
          • Way to tow the company line

            This Scroogled thing cracks me up. Yes, Google does place ads based on content of your emails, but Hotmail/Outlook/MSN/etc does even worse. According to their privacy policy (http://privacy.microsoft.com/en-us/fullnotice.mspx#display): "Most of the online advertisements on Microsoft sites are displayed by Microsoft Advertising. When we display online advertisements to you, we will place one or more persistent cookies on your computer in order to recognize your computer each time we display an ad to you. Because we serve advertisements on our own websites as well as those of our advertising and publisher partners, we are able to compile information over time about the types of pages, content and ads you, or others who are using your computer, visited or viewed. This information is used for many purposes, for example, it helps us try to ensure that you do not see the same advertisements over and over again. We also use this information to help select and display targeted advertisements that we believe may be of interest to you. "

            So instead of just serving ads based on the contents of your email, they actually follow you around the internet and serve ads based on the websites you visit.

            Which one is creepier? I'll take Gmail, thank you.
            sparhawks
          • Google's use of cookies

            So, I don't know if their use is much different actually.
            I'm trying to interpret the wording here.

            I think GMail is searching through your email + cookie tracking. Not one or the other...

            From their "Cookies and Advertising" pages (there's a lot more):
            To help our partners manage their advertising and websites, we offer many products, including AdSense, AdWords, Google Analytics, and a range of DoubleClick-branded services. When you visit a page that uses one of these products, either on one of Google’s sites or one of our partners’, various cookies may be sent to your browser.

            http://www.google.com/policies/technologies/ads/

            And, in general....
            (This is so generic, it's hard to say what the point is...)
            http://www.google.com/policies/technologies/cookies/


            There are quite a few weasel words in all these privacy policies / FAQs. Like the fact that people may not pick up that some domains mentioned are owned by Google, Microsoft, or Facebook for ad purposes or CDN.

            But I think you'll find that "GMail" itself may not "track" your movements elsewhere, but Google, or DoubleClick.net will track you as you click away from your email.

            I mean, I stay "logged out" of Google / GMail, but I know the ads change as I use Google. And obviously when I log into GMail, they reflect what's in my inbox.

            I guess the difference is that in Outlook.com, at least the ads remain only about my search history... which tends to be more fun than the work turmoil people send me :)
            greggerca
          • There is no privacy on the internet

            It's a simple fact. The second you get online you are being tracked. Maybe it's not so brazenly in your face like Google but Hotmail is no better or worse than Google. At one point Microsoft was selling Hotmail addresses to Spammers but that was back in the late 90's before people became aware and upset about it.

            All you people complaining about Google "tracking you" and "invading your privacy" sound very ignorant to me. The second you get online there's a home page. That website, whether it be Bing, Yahoo, or whatever, already knows your ISP, DNS, what brower you are using the second you get online. If you go to another web page they know what website you went to, etc. All that information is known and used.

            You think Hotmail or Yahoo doesn't scan your emails? Everybody does it. You have no privacy. Your only option is get off the internet if you value your privacy so much.
            Maha888
          • Think of all of your on-line communications being like a postcard, ...

            ... not a letter or a chat, a postcard. Literally everybody (in this case, every computer system) which handles your message can see it and act upon it.

            There is no expectation of privacy if you are walking down the street and say something out loud to another person.

            There is no expectation of privacy if you hand the mailman a postcard.

            If you put anything in machine readable format, it CAN be read. There was a time that only the companies you dealt with could do anything with that information. The U.S. Government could not do so without a Search Warrant issued by a judge based upon "probable cause" but ...

            Since the Patriot Act was passed, and President Bush was allowed to blatantly disregard the terms of the legislation, and Congress held blameless any company which cooperated with the U.S. Government when they presented no such Search Warrants, nothing you say or do, or convey via the U.S. Mail, or convey electronically, is free from illegal search and seizure.
            M Wagner
          • A list

            Welcome aboard - hope you enjoy the scrutiny....
            NightLife6
          • It is very easy to tell your browser (any browser) ...

            ... to delete all your cookies upon exit.
            M Wagner
        • Upgrade

          Check what this mean. Gmail:
          - no aliases
          - no EAS support for free users
          - limited space
          - no sync for FB, LinkedIn or Outlook Office
          - crippled web apps (gdocs can't even open docx or odf documents)
          - gmail man

          otutlook:
          - you can create 15 aliases
          - EAS support for free users
          - unlimited space
          - sync for Facebook, LinkedIn, Outlook Office and more
          - great web apps
          - no gmail man!
          - many more advantage

          What you proposing is definitely downgrade! Gmail is so outdated and crippled comparing to Outlook.
          Mr.SV
          • Actually gmail has unlimited aliases, for instance. If you have first.lastname@gmail.com you automatically get every connatation of that address with or without periods in it. So firstlastname@gmail.com works, f.i.r.s.t.l.a.s.t.n.a.m.e@gmail.com also works. In addition to that, you also get tags so you can do: first.lastname+amazon@gmail.com or firstlastname+amazon.com

            This gives a tremendious amount of flexability for filtering but it also adds a very great deal of security when you create accounts for logging into sites that require you to use email as your login. So if someone knows your email, they know half your login details. But if you use first.lastname+secret@gmail.com, its an added layer of security through obsfucation. Every bit helps!

            In addition GMail has pretty much unlimited space. We are talking 10.1 GB as of this writing. Thats a TON of space for email! Crippled web apps only applies if you are already sucked into Microsofts ecosystem. It opens PDF documents perfectly fine. Also like a normal person I prefer to download my word documents, and then open them...

            And perhaps the biggest feature of why I love Gmail is it actually has real themes. Not just the ability to change accent colors. I prefer a dark background on most of my apps so I don't zap my eye balls all day long.
            Emalamisura
          • aliases

            No, gmail doesn't have aliases, read that please:
            http://support.google.com/mail/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=12096
            >>>>For example, messages sent to jane.doe+notes@gmail.com are delivered
            >>>>to jane.doe@gmail.com.

            So everything after '+' is skipped by service and delivered directly to original account. This is not aliases, aliases works exactly like Microsoft describe here:

            >>>Outlook.com has the ability for you to create aliases. These are separate ?>>>email addresses from the main email address you use for Outlook.com (your >>>Microsoft account). For example – you can create an email address that is >>>used specifically for online purchasing, another for all your social media >>>websites, and another for bills and finances. This is what I do. This can be >>>incredibly helpful in managing “traffic flow” of email especially with rules…

            you see a difference how this works?
            Mr.SV
          • Gmail can do the same thing

            How is that ANY different from creating a 2nd Gmail account and then adding it into your exsting Gmail account as a 2nd account to check? Just like you can add any POP/IMAP account into Gmail, you can add a 2nd (and lots more) Gmail accounts. They would share the same inbox. You can then use filters to sort multiple email accts just like you can with Outlook. Gmail might not call it an alias, but it is the same thing.
            sparhawks
          • Gmail can do the same thing

            No, gmail can't do the same thing.
            >>>How is that ANY different from creating a 2nd Gmail account and then adding it >>>into your exsting Gmail account as a 2nd account to check?

            And here we are, you don't understand how aliases works and why you should use them. How this is different from crating a new email account? Here how:
            using aliases you can control them from ONE account and using them on boards, blogs or portals you not compromise you email account because you can't log in to mail account by using them.
            Here you have explain how this is different from pseudo '+' aliases and what benefits this gives you:
            http://blogs.windows.com/windows_live/b/windowslive/archive/2011/02/03/hotmail-delivers-aliases-to-help-you-manage-and-secure-your-email-account.aspx

            Email aliases let you create completely different email addresses that you can use to receive email into your primary account without anyone knowing what your primary email address is.
            Mr.SV
          • Re: "aliases"

            Many people just don't get it, how Internet e-mail works. This is why you confuse an "email address" with "mailbox" or "alias".

            Here is the cold, simple truth. First, some axioms:

            1. In order for someone to send you e-mail, they need to know your e-mail address.

            2. In order for you to read/retrieve your e-mail, you need an "mailbox".

            3. There is a link between the e-mail address and the mailbox. Technically, that link is known as "alias".

            What Google has done, long, long ago is to design a system to "normalize" e-mail addresses, into mailboxes. They were neither the first, nor the only company to do that. Years before Google ever existed, this has been standard practice for most ISPs. An "mailbox" is typically an "account" on a UNIX system. Historically, that would be an up to 16 letters alphanumeric string, traditionally starting with a letter. So anything like your.name.here or your-name-here will end up being matted to yournamehere. Google does give you "for free" all these generic aliases, because they map to your normalized mailbox. This has the unfortunate side effect, that any possible variations are valid and exist as e-mail addresses, not just what you would think is.

            Another kind of "alias" ISPs would do (remember, way back before Google and Hotmail, not to speak of Microsoft and Outlook) is to create another e-mail address, in the same, or in different domain, and route it to your mailbox. This let's ISPs have mailbox names of the kind: mb2167373214 and you still use e-mail addresses like theboss@microsoft.com. It of course allows you to create the alias underboss@microsoft.com and route it to the mb2167373214 mailbox too. This is standard services, again, has been for ages.

            Microsoft seems to be doing the later case. I also assume they do it with user supplied domain names, not only with outlook.com. Just as your around the corner ISP has been doing for decades.

            Nothing new under the sun, as they say. Now let me not distract you anymore from your fight :)
            danbi
          • If your first & last name are still there, it's not an "alias"

            An alias would be, for example, "i_hate_microsoft@emailprovider", but all of the mail gets redirected to your "firstname.lastname@emailprovider" account. Unless you respond with your *real* email address, the person that sent you the email has no idea what your *real* email address is.

            What you're talking about is like using "firstname.lastname-NOSPAM@emailprovider" to prevent searchbots & other automated programs from simply skimming your real email from a message or page. A live person can simply manually type your email address into the "To:" box of their draft, deleting the "NOSPAM" portion, to send you an email. It helps protect against automated spam... but it *doesn't* prevent someone from knowing your *real* email address.
            spdragoo@...
          • Doesn't sound very flexible to me ...

            ... especially if I don't want to provide my real identity to someone who needs to reach me but from whom I don't want marketing material.
            M Wagner
        • I understand now.

          Since moving to Outlook, you aquire features not had in Hotmail, while moving to gmail would lose you features you had in Hotmail, pointing that out makes me an "M$ Shill", as many consider that a downgrade.

          Once again, your statements do not make sense.
          John Zern
        • Gmail is years behind Outlook.com

          You can't compare
          Stephan Sevenyoln