Oddities of Hotmail’s increased storage space

Hotmail users are offered storage space that’s practically unlimited, like Gmail. But are they really a match to Gmail?

A "Special" Feature

Hotmail includes an additional feature to help you “sweep” stuff out of your inbox and into the trash, which is interesting. There's also another prominent delete button. It appears that they are reluctant to allow disk space to be used up.

There's some promotional material on this here.

The link teaches you how to “get rid of unwanted email”. Compare this with Gmail: “Who needs to delete when you have so much storage?!”

On the positive side, the sweep feature can be used to move lots of email at once to a folder other than trash too. But, the manner in which the trash folder is emphasized is noteworthy, as well as the way they started out with this feature, when they allowed moving only to the trash.

Why is Microsoft Trying to Save Disk Space?

Let’s look at the history of Hotmail’s storage space. Storage space is not easy to come by, and the competition from Google is growing. Hotmail’s storage was a meagre 2 MB around the year 2000, and this was low compared to the competition at the time. They suddenly increased it to 250 MB around 2004, in order to counter Google’s massive 1 GB offering, something never imagined by consumers at the time.

Microsoft strived on, and now decided to make Hotmail's storage limit a continually increasing one, which is again exactly on the lines of Google. Not only that, they’ve been trying to adopt other Gmail features: chat, docs and a usable calendar.

However, Microsoft still hasn't come very close to match Google's success.

What Could Microsoft do Differently?

Microsoft needs to innovate, like they did in their early days. They started out with the innovative idea of having a desktop computer in every home, and emerged highly successful. But now, Microsoft appears to be in the business of re-inventing things already present.

Here’s a small list:

  • Bing, a copy of Google
  • Live Spaces, a copy of social networking sites
  • Hotmail improvements - copy of Gmail improvements
  • Office 365 - a copy of Google Docs

If Microsoft wants to stay ahead, they must start innovating. Xbox, along with Kinect, created from their research division, is a fine example, though a few may argue it was an imitation of Nintendo Wii. What is notable though, is the role of the research division in this offering.

Take a look at their amazing XBox sales - they can definitely do better in other areas if they come up with unique ideas that make them stand out from the rest.


Hey Abdullah, I work on the Hotmail team and would appreciate your thoughts on our new campaign http://whatsyourinboxlike.com/. Thanks!

By Galileo


Thanks for stopping by! :)

It's nice to see Microsoft opening up for consumers and listening to their voices - as long as they don't encourage users to get rid of old emails. I'm still a fan of Google's line "Who needs to delete...."

By Abdullah Chougle

Glad to be here!

So we're not encouraging email deletion at all, sorry we gave you that impression. We want Hotmail to be the best email service for all types of users, whether they keep or delete their messages. That's the idea behind the new campaign and features like Sweep, Quick Views and Filters. We actually have a blog post up explaining some of this http://t.co/gUlUiY5. Would appreciate your thoughts on this point of view we're sharing.

We are listening to consumers and have many new features coming up. I'll keep you posted!

By Galileo

Going by the new campaign by Microsoft, I'm more of a piler.

Still, it kinda feels cool to have things focused. Gmail encourages everyone to be a piler, but as for Hotmail, you'll need to learn a lot of stuff to get used to the tools and features they provide.

I'm not sure what best makes sense - provide a few tools so that people can get going faster, or provide many tools that require a larger learning curve that utlimately makes things move smoothly.

I guess the choice one makes depends on how well other features like chat and documents integrate.

By Abdullah Chougle

Got your point. Our focus is to give the user choice, so they don't have to conform to one way of doing things. This does require both great user experience on the service (what you call tools) and user education (which is where the campaigns come in).

Do you feel that the new campaign addresses the perception you had in the original post around storage space?

By Galileo

I feel these additional features have the potential to confuse users who are accustomed to the simplicity of Gmail.

Given the choice, will users care to go through the hassles of wading through loads of documentation vs using something that feels intuitive at first?

Still, I'm happy to be using Hotmail for about ten years now. Thanks for keeping up the hard work over all these years, and providing us with an alternative to Gmail's growing influence.

By Abdullah Chougle

Microsoft's first really successful product, MS-DOS, was just a clone of CPM. Microsoft has been in the business of copying innovators for a long time. :lol:

Before MS-DOS, Microsoft's first product was a BASIC interpreter. Microsoft didn't invent BASIC, they just copied it. They started out in the business of cloning other people's software.

By Will Spencer

Actually, following is a valid strategy for a company. Sometimes the innovator creates something lacking in features or with implementation problems, a follower can correct them and benefit society while being unable itself to create things. Though M$ is not exactly known for quality, they provided products in the past at a lower cost, which is also something a follower can do. This is more or less the way emergent countries bootstrap their economies when going global (e.g. China).

The trick is progressively marketing better products, which Japan did, Korea did and China seems to be planning to do; M$ OTOH failed to see a way to implement this (though people eventually got used to Offi¢e quirks).

But the real problem in my view is with the unorthodox commercial practices with led them to conviction and made them look untrusworthy for some people (like the takeover of ISO some years ago -- or that "embrace, extend, extinguish" thing).

By Anon Sequitur

It's worse than that. MS-DOS was actually called "QDOS", and was bought from some other guy for a song. MS didn't "innovate" it, and didn't even copy it, they just bought it. And yes, it was a cheap and poor copy of CP/M. Everything else they did was a cheap copy too; they've never done anything really innovative. The article's author is seriously deluded. The idea of a microcomputer on every desktop wasn't MS's idea; Apple was making microcomputers for this purpose back in the 70s, long before IBM came out with their PC. Windows was a cheap and poor copy of Apple's GUIs, and more importantly the Xerox PARC machines. I can't think of a single really innovative thing MS ever did in their history.

By Grishnakh

Microsoft would not be where it is, but for copying and cloning then patenting other peoples ideas starting with DOS, application, Excel came from Visical, winword came from DOS Word, Access came from Dbase, Windows came from someone else's GUI idea. On top of that came forced sales of windows on every manufactures computer,

Microsoft is being dropped world wide by companies, governments,and individuals alike because of their insecure, unstable over priced over rated products, No matter what Microsoft do now, it's far to late, the crowds have learned that there are operating systems far superior for FREE,

Windows 8 is to little to late, it's a Joke, it's still ten years behind Linux open source operating system and software for innovation and usability,

By Carling

Boy, between Lance and Mr Carling, so much hate.
Some of your "claims" are so "out there", you need to lay off the meds.
Microsoft have actually had some very good financial results recently. Only in the mind of an angry techie or child would you view MS as outmoded or not relevant. They've had a pretty good year.
Are they perfect? No, but what company is. I'm personally very happy with some of my MS products. I love my new WP7 phone. I moved back from OSX to Windows 7 (Loving Battefield 3 and Starcraft on my _PC_!) :) I love using Outlook at work (I use Google too, I don't hate anyone).
My Xbox brings me joy. Really, my life would be a lot more boring if it wasn't for Microsoft.
As an aside Steve Jobs admits on film he robbed Xerox of the GUI. And Steve Jobs accuses Schmidt of stealing iOS for Android. They are all blaming each other :) But really, who cares?
You have no idea of what Windows 8 is going to be like, that early preview is so raw, its not even beta. And ten years behind Linux? Oh right, so you're a Slashdot reading Linux nerd. Oh dear.
Last time I checked, Linux has what 2% of the PC market? Give me a break. I was using Linux/Slackware (the original) when I carried it around on 72 floppy disks in an ice cream box. I still run Ubuntu on a VMWare box here just to poke it with a stick. But really, users checking their dependencies and compiling executables? Pfff. You've lost the plot.
I moved back to Hotmail from Gmail for one of my accounts, as I am not comforable with Google indexing and saving all my personal data. Skydrive is excellent, and really great for managing photos - so I've moved back a little. I still love Googles Calendar though, so me and the Mrs use that together. Anyway, being objective isn't why you are here, its to be wildly emotive. Carry on :)

By hugh

Android (Linux) is kicking MS's rear and all they can do is threaten patent lawsuits to wring money out of customers. Apple is pretty bad too.

By Lance

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