Happy 15th Birthday to Hotmail!

Microsoft’s online email provider Hotmail turns 15 years old this week – hard to believe isn’t it?

That’s right; in July 1996 the first ever free web-based email service was launched, which back then was titled “HoTMaiL” (the capitals spell out HTML).

It wasn’t always Microsoft’s baby though – it was invented by a couple of chaps known as Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith and then purchased from them by an Estonian Investor. It was one year later when Microsoft acquired the service for an estimated $400 million, and began developing it into the Windows Live email service we know today.

Microsoft branded it as MSN Hotmail for a few years before changing it to Windows Live Hotmail back in 2007.

To celebrate 15 years of Hotmail, Microsoft has released 15 interesting facts about the service:

  1. Hotmail in 2011 is not Hotmail in 2005 (or Hotmail in 2010, for that matter.)
  2. Hotmail is really, really fast – 10-20x faster than last year, and even faster than Gmail in certain areas.
  3. Hotmail filters out more than 98% of spam – 5.5 billion messages a day
  4. Hotmail works great on your smartphone, (Windows Phone especially but iOS and many other smartphones too) – syncing email, calendar, and contacts.
  5. You can chat with your Facebook friends right from Hotmail
  6. Watch videos linked from YouTube, Hulu, and many other services right from within your email message.
  7. Like conversation view? We’ve got it. Hate it? It’s easy to disable
  8. You can import your current account and continue to use the address while Hotmail manages your inbox (Gmail, Y! Plus, AOL.)
  9. “Sweep” allows you to filter hundreds of messages from multiple senders withonly a few clicks
  10. Get unread email notifications on your Windows 7 taskbar by pinning with IE9.
  11. Why worry about low attachment limits when sending photos? SkyDrive support lets you send hundreds of photos per mail.
  12. Hotmail utilizes Office Web Apps for easy document editing and sharing – don’t settle for lesser software.
  13. Use Netflix? Hotmail ActiveViews let you get more done in your inbox with interactive email from a number of partners.
  14. We’re the largest free email service on the planet – with 360 million unique users per month.
  15. We’re 15 years old – and the best is yet to come.

Hotmail was recently updated to be more like Microsoft’s desktop client, Outlook. Read all about it here.

Are you still an avid user of Hotmail? Let us know what you love about it by tweeting us @Gadget_Helpline.