Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

No. Well, maybe someday. No, more like kind of. With characteristic confusion, Microsoft has introduced and positioned it to replace Hotmail. Sort of.

Last week, Microsoft announced "" - "Modern Email for the Next Billion Mailboxes," as they said.

With that announcement came rumblings of an end to Microsoft's popular Hotmail email service. It appears that effectively replaces as Microsoft's free email offering.

And it probably will ... eventually.

But Microsoft's lack of clarity for its long term plans for Hotmail are leading many people to jump to a conclusion that I think is flat out wrong.

Let's clear that up first.

Your Hotmail email address will keep working

Regardless of what else Microsoft does with Hotmail or Outlook or whatever else they come up with in email, it's extremely likely that your email address will just keep working as it always has – it won't stop working as a result of these changes.

To quote Microsoft:

Webmail was first introduced with HoTMaiL in 1996. Back then, it was novel to have a personal email address you could keep for life ...

Even now, they refer to your Hotmail personal email address as something that you would keep for life. I'd be shocked if they ever backtracked on that.

"... you don't need to do a thing – your Hotmail email address will continue to work."

If for some reason it ever did happen, Microsoft would lose its position in the free email market overnight. Given that these changes are specifically to attract more users (not alienate old ones), it just doesn't make sense that Microsoft would do anything other than keep your email address working for as long as there's a Microsoft and there is email.

So let's be clear about one thing: you don't need to do a thing – your Hotmail email address will continue to work.

Whether or not you want to do something is another matter.

So just what is

Call me a cynic, but it appears to me that is really nothing more that a new web-based user interface for Microsoft's free email services. Go to and login using your email address and you'll now be accessing your Hotmail email using the new user interface. User Interface viewing a Hotmail account

As you can see, it's a new "face" on my Hotmail account.

That's it. That's all.

In fact, any of the email addresses associated with your "Microsoft account" can be used including,,, and several others.

And now


So, why did Microsoft introduce

Two things come immediately to mind:

  • The "land rush" as people try to claim email addresses on the new domain will increase Microsoft's total email subscriber numbers.

  •'s new user interface will indeed be more powerful and integrate more closely with social media.

Microsoft's own announcement indicates that the later is most significant:

... email is becoming less and less useful as ... people increasingly keep up their personal connections in social networks instead of their email address books. definitely looks like some of the more Windows 8 – like (formerly known as "Metro-style") applications.

It's very clear that is Microsoft's next step in the ongoing competition for online email, social media, and more. In many ways, Hotmail has been lagging what's available from some of Microsoft's competitors and has indeed been losing ground.

Put another way, Microsoft is "keeping up with the Jones'" – or the Googles, or the Facebooks.

My take is that it's Microsoft's foundation for the future of integrated email and other online services.

Speaking of the future...

What to expect over time

Until we hear more from Microsoft, this is speculation, but it's speculation from having watched Microsoft and Hotmail for many years.

I predict that the Hotmail user interface that we know and love (or at least tolerate) will someday go away.

Not immediately – probably not for many many months if not a couple of years.

But eventually, I'm guessing that when you login to your Hotmail account, you'll someday see the user interface whether you previously "upgraded" or not.

You can do that today by going to – in fact, once you login at, logging in later via will give you the user interface. (Instructions to switch back are below.)

Someday, I expect that to simply happen for everyone – with no going back.

This isn't new. Microsoft has changed the Hotmail user interface before, and eventually all users were "upgraded."

Does this mean it's time To leave Hotmail?

Of course not. Not for this, anyway. Nothing has been forced on you.

  • Your email address will keep working, very likely forever. (The same is true of, or, or ... whatever other Microsoft email address you might have.)

  • You're not being forced to change your user interface. Ignore and nothing will change. Not yet anyway.

Let's face it – my prediction of the demise of the Hotmail user interface is pure speculation. I think it likely, but I could be wrong. Microsoft could surprise me and keep the old Hotmail UI available for a long, long time, alongside

If, however, they don't, then the decision on whether or not to leave is up to you and how much you like – or dislike – the look and its features and functionality.

Is related to Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express?


There's actually no technical relationship between, Microsoft Outlook (included in Microsoft Office) and Outlook Express (which is no longer available or supported and should go away.) You don't need one to access the other or vice versa – they're unrelated and independent.

The word "Outlook" here is nothing more than a brand name for Microsoft's email programs and interfaces.

Now, it makes sense that Microsoft might make look like Microsoft Outlook in many ways, and perhaps increasingly so over time, but that's all it would be: a similar appearance.

I also expect that Microsoft Outlook (the desktop email program) will integrate very well with (the email service), and in fact, Microsoft is already touting that as one of its features.

So, is Hotmail going away or not?

No, your email address will keep on working as well as it ever has ... "for life" in Microsoft's own words.

Yes, someday I fully expect logging in via or or to all result in the new user interface, and in that sense, "Hotmail" will no longer be with us as anything other than an email address. I could even see Microsoft perhaps closing the domain to new email addresses.

Sort Of: I also expect Microsoft will be adding new features to only, and pestering us with the opportunity to upgrade often.

As I said, most of that is simply speculation based on experience – Microsoft has been typically unclear on exactly what to expect.

I "upgraded." How do I go back?

Simply going to and logging in with any Microsoft account will have the side effect of "upgrading" your account to the new user interface.

For now, going back is really easy.

Click on the gear icon in the upper right, and you'll get a menu that includes "Switch back to Hotmail":

Switch Back To Hotmail option in

Article C5656 - August 5, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Scott Currier
August 7, 2012 8:52 AM

Thank you Leo for your insight into Hotmail. I have been using Hotmail since before Microsoft bought it. It's been fine. I agree with you that the new interface is just a new interface and in my opinion not as good or as easy to use as the old one. Kind of change for the sake of change. Glad to hear that it is unlikely they will get rid of the addresses. I did get myself an address just in case. But I agree with your logic, it wouldn't make sense to dump the addresses.

Thanks again for the information, very interesting and helpful.

Mark J
August 7, 2012 9:14 AM

When I heard about my first reaction was that it was an upgrade to Hotmail to bring it up to the level of Gmail and Yahoo mail. I think the new branding will also help people who don't like Hotmail to try it out. As for the winding down of Hotmail feature upgrades, that's almost a given, considering Microsoft's history and that it wouldn't make sense to work on developing 2 systems at once. As for pestering, that's what MS (and Tiggers) do best.

V. T. Eric Layton
August 7, 2012 9:33 AM

Good article, Leo, not that I was worried about my accounts... well, maybe just a little worried. ;) Hotmail is my longest surviving email account. My first was (Planetary Motion), which has long been history. I would hate to see my accounts go into the mists.

Thanks for reinforcing what I already figured the reality of all this actually was.



August 7, 2012 9:42 AM

I don't care to use the 'social' functions anyway. This isn't helpful at all. I feel as if online usage has gone south for the last 15 years as it is. Most of the functionality I needed arrived with 98 and XP.

Email is...EMAIL.

August 7, 2012 9:51 AM

This article stimulated my curiosity, so I went to to check it out. I agree that it's nothing more than an interface to a Web mail server. In addition, it continues M$'s reduction in features. E.g., OE allowed you to put colored backgrounds in messages. This was EXTREMELY helpful for a sight-impaired friend, who could best see a large, black letters on a yellow background. Background color is no longer available in Live Mail or in It's really ironic that they provide colors for the message header columns, but not for the messages themselves. Glitz always trumps functionality at M$.

August 7, 2012 10:48 AM

My paid for Hotmail email account is due for renewal (I didn't want to lose my personal email address), should I renew or just continue with the free one? I've upgraded to Outlook.

fran kaye
August 7, 2012 11:13 AM

Also going away in April 2014 will end services on XP.
I also have their Security Essentials which I think is very good and will be gone also.

Kenneth Cook
August 7, 2012 12:43 PM

An excellent article. It puts the case well for just keeping what one has. microsoft is in the position of the seller of any large service or product that works well e.g. ESSO petrol (gasoline). no one buys it because of spot advertising but at the same time adopts a particular brand of service. hence ESSO must be known well what better way than to propose a change to the product.

Mark J
August 7, 2012 1:37 PM

That depends on whether or not there are features in the paid version of Hotmail that you want to continue using.

August 7, 2012 1:45 PM

I've started using the email site and so far like what I see.Nice clean interface and the opportunity to get an email address. My other accounts with Hotmail and now go into a new folder. I haven't dug into all the ins and outs of the site yet but I do like the new look.

August 7, 2012 1:51 PM

I see no mention of Windows Live Mail. Where does it fit in?

Mark J
August 7, 2012 2:08 PM

There are a few mentions on Windows Live Mail in the article, including:
"In fact, any of the email addresses associated with your "Microsoft account" can be used including,,, and several others."
"Your email address will keep working, very likely forever. (The same is true of, or, or ... whatever other Microsoft email address you might have.)"
If you are referring to the Windows Live Mail program, it will probably go the route of the other Windows email programs. It will have a few years of use until they come out with something different.

August 7, 2012 4:14 PM

(a joke). If Hotmail shuts down what would Leo write about?

August 7, 2012 4:29 PM

I changed over to and now cannot access my old hotmail account. I can only access outlook via my messenger account. I need the server names and port numbers to correctly set it up to access via Live mail. Anyone have these values??

Tom (aka Reallyoldguy)
August 7, 2012 5:14 PM

Microsoft says Outlook is a NEW personal email service. Really? OK I have signed up and have been playing with it and here is what I find. Windows Live? Hotmail Calendar? Social Updates? FaceBook? YouTube? LinkedIn? Flickr? Manage Contacts? Import Contacts? (this did a very bad job)! Microsoft? (What? “The page you requested cannot be found”) SkyDrive? Skype coming soon?

This is about the furthest thing from an email service that I can possibly imagine, and should be called something more descriptive, like Outlook Complete Social Network, for smartphones and tablets. Give me a good old desktop email program any day, never mind these highfaluting webmail services. Remember when one could insert a photo in to the body the email without going to the ”Cloud”? Remember how simple yet useful Outlook Express was? That was nice and easy and has been taken away from us. Such a shame. More fancy is not necessarily more better, simpler is sometimes best.

And this release is touted as “a preview”, me thinks “beta” would have represented it much better.

My opinion – for what it’s worth,
Tom (aka Reallyoldguy)

August 7, 2012 7:46 PM

I'd like to know how the changes going on at Hotmail will affect my Thunderbird interface with my Hotmail. If I never access Hotmail except through Thunderbird, how would a potential change of name from Hotmail to Outlook in my email address get automatically registered in Thunderbird? Or would I have to manually go in and change that in my Thunderbird program?

Mark J
August 7, 2012 9:59 PM

I'm not exactly sure how you are trying to access your emails. I got a couple of Outlook email addresses, but I still download my mail in Thunderbird through the Hotmail settings. As far as I understand, just gives you a different interface and the opportunity to add alternate email addresses to receive mail. Otherwise, you still can log on to using your Hotmail email address.

Mark J
August 7, 2012 10:16 PM

For now, Hotmail accounts can be accessed through Thunderbird or any other email program using the same Hotmail settings. There's no way of knowing for sure if they will continue POP3 and IMAP access, but since they are competing with GMail which continues to offer POP3 and IMAP, MS probably won't drop those features in the near future.

August 9, 2012 6:18 AM

What if I do not convert to right away? Can someone create a new user account and use my Hotmail name? For example, what if my current Hotmail email is Can someone go to and create an email address? Meaning, I will be forever blocked from switching to that email address?

Mark J
August 9, 2012 10:50 AM

If you have an email address, someone else can register the name I was able to get a version of my name on that I was unable to get on So yes you would be blocked from adding that email address. I used add instead of switch, because I believe your email address will never go away or at least will exist as long as MS continues to provide email service.

August 9, 2012 10:55 PM

Hello Allen, I've inadvertedly upgraded to in a rush to maintain the same email in case hotmail was going away. But, although the interface doesn't bother me, I hate the fact that I have to log on using instead of my former email
Is there any way of reverting back after upgrading?

bob price
August 10, 2012 11:19 AM

I am confused. I opened my hotmail account in outlook, but now the URL says: "" So, is that hotmail? Or outlook mail? Or windows live mail? [I don't even know what I have]

Welcome to the confusion that is Microsoft. Hotmail accounts have been opening on the domain for a long time. It is (or perhaps was) "Windows Live Hotmail" afterall.

August 14, 2012 4:21 PM

Updates!, I hate updates! Updates are happening so fast, I can't stay up with them, neither can my PC, I bought a stack of DVD"s and CD's, I went through them in a week, they are not cheap, you know, that red flag keeps waving, but I'm through! Please tell me how to update without DVD's nd CD's. My Windows XP never botherd me about updates, meaby thats the reason it has a black screen on it. I hope not! I really like your info, Leo, Thanks

August 17, 2012 11:48 AM

So here's the thing, I absolutely hate!!! I want the old profile layout back! I can no longer see MY status messages on MY profile and its the only way I ever used to write statuses and stuff because I don't use Facebook or Twitter! I want to know if we're going to get the option to get the old profile back and I don't mean the "switch back to hotmail" thing as that only takes you back to the old homepage! Just give us the old profile back or at least the option to have it back, or I'm just gonna go elsewhere, because lets face it Microsoft, you've officially ruined Hotmail with this pathetic attempt at being modern "" rubbish!

Mark J
August 17, 2012 12:09 PM

Read the article again. Leo explains how to revert to the Hotmail interface.

August 17, 2012 1:46 PM

@Mark J - I know how to switch back to the old hotmail, but it only takes you back to the old homepage, not the profile! As I stated in my last comment.

August 21, 2012 11:10 PM

When I click the gear all it says is Help and feedback, Notifications, and Manage access.. Wtf? I just want this damn thing gone off my hotmail profile!! I hate it SO much. Please help..

September 7, 2012 6:20 AM

I never upgraded my Hotmail account, and but they changed the format on me anyway. And on top of that, as far as I can tell, they never told me they were going to do it. At first, I thought I had been hacked. My Hotmail page looked like it was never fully loading. I would click on "Inbox", and then I would have to scroll to the bottom of the page to see my message. And I was never allowed to reply. I could click "reply", but nothing would happen. I had to go to the forums and read posts by people who were having the same problems. One person mentioned going to to login, and sure enough, my page looked normal again (only now it was in form).

So, it's frustrating because I never knew that any of this was happening before I read Leo's newsletter. They upgrade you even when you do not choose to upgrade and leave your Inbox looking like chaos.

September 20, 2012 8:51 AM

I dont see the switch back to hotmail either....just feedback & help. I really dislike Outlook! I cant find my contacts when I want to forward something..only recents ones. Help me plz

September 20, 2012 4:40 PM

I think that's cause you have gone too deep into the site. Go fresh to, log in, and before you click on anything else click the tools gear. It's right there under the tools gear for me. Just under Help - Feedback.

sylvia glenister
October 7, 2012 11:23 PM

When I try to log in to my e-mail I get a message said to be from Microsoft wanting me to give my phone number, log in with a different e-mail addy (I don't have one), and change my secret question. I am suspicious of this message. Should I be and if n ot what am I supposed to do about it.

Mark J
October 8, 2012 12:44 AM

This is a common phishing scam. Read this article for more information:
Is Windows Live Hotmail about to close my account?

chris charstone
November 5, 2012 10:25 AM

I agree that it looks like thez are shutting down hotmail for a reason..for instance...Why has the new oulook reduced the size of ATTACHEMENTS we can send!!!!!!!!!!!!!! not fair to insit we use cloud...we have NO way of knowing who acesses is undermined...thez are turning a GREAT product (HOTMAIL) into RUBBISH...but I guess soon we will be able to "UPGRADE" our outlook...AT A COST...THAT-S what its all about............

November 11, 2012 4:27 PM

Quote "You're not being forced to change your user interface."

What a false statement. We're in an epidemic now of large software companies COMPLETELY changing-around a FAMILIAR user interface every 14 months FOR NO REASON other than they have developers sitting around with nothing to do. It's an epidemic. Only a microsoft "fan" would say otherwise. Learn what the word FAMILIARITY means and stop cheering for companies that BREAK USER FAMILIARITY every 14 months. Criticism is justified everywhere possible on this topic until end-users start getting a clue and start speaking up. Microsoft made their "try" link VERY deceptive because when you "try" it your account GETS CONVERTED to "" and you have to hunt around for how to UN-convert it again. Deceptive. Arrogant. Change-for-no-reason. Typical large software company. Deserves direct criticism.

November 26, 2012 11:40 AM

I have a problem with the phrase that indicates Microsoft isn't forcing me to change to outlook. Several times, the familiar Hotmail page has been replaced with the ugly and sterile outlook "improvement" and each time I have had to switch back to the old Hotmail page that I have come to know and love. It's vastly annoying to have to switch back and forth. I still can't get my "contact" list to look like the old Hotmail contact list--it seems to be permanently stuck in sterile outlook mode.

Here is my question: Why doesn't Microsoft offer a choice? Those who wish to go over to the dark side (Outlook) can do so. But give the old "stick-in-the-mud" types

"Why doesn't Microsoft offer a choice?" - they do, but only while the new interface is being tested or rolled out. Maintaining two completely different interfaces that you can choose from forever makes Hotmail itself significantly more complex, error-prone and expensive to maintain. For a free service that's just not a long term option.

You may not consider the old Hotmail broken, but Microsoft clearly does. They don't make changes just for fun or to annoy people. They honestly believe that the new look is simpler and easier for people to use and as a result more competitive.

You and I know many, many others may disagree with that assessment, but at least realize that from their perspective they're doing it to make a better service, and integrate that service more cleanly with their other offerings. They are running a business and in this business to remain stagnant while others continue to improve is death, pure and simple.

This is not the first time that Microsoft has radically changed the Hotmail interface, and I don't expect it to be the last. Each time my advice to unhappy users is the same: vote with your feet. There are many, many other free email services out there. I happen to recommend Gmail these days.

December 14, 2012 10:56 AM

Leo, I think it M.S. hotmail went to outlook for money. It would be cheaper to patch a money driven program like outlook ( which is in M.S. Office) than to spend time and dollars to fix 2 applications that are diferent. the on-line service is unrelated to Outlook the desktop email program.

Philip Bonnici
January 7, 2013 5:24 PM

I am 67yrs old,and all I know about computers is to read an email and send an email. For about 10yrs I have never encountered any problems.Recently microsoft keeps asking me to enter my email address and my password. When I do this microsoft tells me that my password is incorrect and I have to go through a proceedure that they ask and I have to wait patentley for at least 24hrs before microsoft process my answers. This already happened twice in the last 2days. Frustration is an understatment. Please,please can you help.

Viet Trinh
January 15, 2013 5:22 PM

Thanks for your article Leo. It's a good news if Microsoft wont shut its down, however i'm really not so happy with outlook interfaces, maybe for somekind i'm so familiar with hotmail. Hope "Balmer and his developers" keep them both or at least do something more with the outlook :))

March 7, 2013 11:46 AM

I'm done with microsoft. I have had the same email for a decade. I hate when I get automatically switched to outlook express, so I change back to hotmail each time. I don't like using outlook express at all. Now the option seems to be gone. I'm going to gmail and I hope many others will teach microsoft a lesson and leave. Less emails in the control of Microsoft means less people will see the advertisements. Which means less money for Microsoft.

March 11, 2013 12:49 PM

As of today (March 11, 2013) I have checked all 3 of my e-mails.

* 2 of them are now on the forced downgrade of Outlook with NO option to go back to the classic hotmail UI, and only one still has the Classic hotmail UI, no idea how long that will stay though.

* I have had my accounts for over 20+ years (one personal, one friends only and one for junk), I am also NOT happy with the forced downgrade.

* I can easily see commends on a lot of forums that they don't like the new outlook/interface, but M$ says just about everyone likes the new UI...why are they lying to us, why don't they get the message?

* The UI is also very slow, tried on several different PCs with different web browsers, all are slow and hard to reply or send an e-mail

Sadly, I'm now looking for another email client, and also recommending my friends that also don't like the new 'hotmail/outlook interface to do the same. They have lost customers because of this, and I know a LOT of people!

Donnia R Bradley
March 22, 2013 2:23 PM

I hate outlook and not because I hate change. I love progress and change. I have been doing computers since 1976, husband is an IT manager, son top level gaming designer in Shanghai on EVE.
But OUTLOOK is slow for typing, slow for loading slow for responding. When are they going to fix it. This sucks.

April 2, 2013 6:19 PM

There are no instructions or answers to issues in this new Outlook (that was once Hotmail). How do you delete contacts? How do you change the view? Each time I search for an answer, the suggestions NEVER match what is showing on my screen. I have NO control over this OUTLOOK. I cannot even make changes in the message I am trying to type. If you notice a spelling error, there is not a way to click on the word and make the correction. Is this progress??????

chris grany
April 3, 2013 12:30 PM

Rather than acquiring MORE users, Hotmail is sending people running for the hills.


f#!k outlook
April 5, 2013 10:21 PM

why don't the email companies get that we have an email account because we want an email account? They want to integrate everything with social media. hell, why waste the step of fiddly multiple logins in that case, why not just use facebook as your primary email and drop all of these competitors. I'm sick of companies thinking that we want everything integrated and then making programs slower, less intuitive and more invasive, slowing us down because we have to click the "no I don't want to tell you about my rectal exam that I had last week" button and filling out every detail about ourselves every time we want to use any functionality on the internet.

c smith
April 6, 2013 8:26 AM

try emailing a link , goes to outlook office which never did work with free hotmail . what a joke
forcing anything on people is really not a good idea
what a pain to have to move everything to gmail

Bill Ledger
April 8, 2013 12:45 AM

The new system is rubbish. It just wont do what I ask to it to do, Instance where is the contacts list. If a thing works, don't fix it.

Mark J
April 8, 2013 1:51 AM

It's unfortunate that MS makes this so hard to find. To access the contacts list when you are composing a message, click on To (or CC or BCC) above the address bar, and it will bring up the contacts list. To manage the Contacts with out sending a message, click on the little down arrow next to where it says Outlook in the upper left hand corner and then click on the People tile.

April 8, 2013 1:04 PM

After being automatically upgraded to Outlook I am now being advised that I have to agree to merging with Skype or I might not be able to access my account.

I don't want Skype why should I have it forced on to me. I have spent the last 3 days moving the stuff I want to keep to another provider.

Waken up MS and see how many people you are losing to the competition

April 18, 2013 7:57 AM


April 18, 2013 11:26 AM

Seems like Microsoft is switching everything to More on that in Leo's article here.
How do Outlook, Outlook Express, and relate?

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