Hotmail is a web-based email service, launched back in the late nineties. It is one of the first platforms that was introduced for webmail services along with ‘Four11’s RocketMail‘ which later became famous as ‘Yahoo! Mail‘. Hotmail was officially launched on July 4, 1996, and quickly grabbed the eyes of users because of the highlight that it is free from ISP-based email protocol. ISP involves a user to download the messages into a local reader in order to access them.
Hotmail let users access their email accounts from any browser without getting tied onto a unique service provider. Hotmail also allowed users to access their email from anywhere in the world. Hotmail had been through a huge evolution from past few decades with added features and enhanced security for a better user experience. Here are some of the features that are added to it over time to utilize the platform to its best.
Hotmail Sign in Procedure
Hotmail initially had a very easy and convenient approach to sign in and sign up for accessing its services. The sign in the process followed is explained below.
- It required a unique username.
- Need to set a password but with no restrictions.
- Basic personal information such as first and last name.
- Additional information to enter but no strict guidelines to enter the information as it was optional.
In 1997, Microsoft bought Hotmail and named it ‘MSN Hotmail’ for Microsoft Network. Microsoft then integrated it with other online services such as MSN instant messenger, MSN money. This allowed a single sign-in window for accessing all the Microsoft services. MSN Hotmail changed the sign in the process a bit and worked on the security measures.
Sign in steps for MSN Hotmail
- Required a username and a password the same way it was before.
- An added feature was a ‘Remember me‘ button that let you save your sign-in credentials to access your email directly.
- Recovery of an account was done by using a link from an alternate email address to set a new password.
Windows Live Hotmail
Microsoft took it one step ahead with renaming the service from MSN Hotmail to ‘Windows Live Hotmail’ in 2006. The objective of this new concept is being “faster, simpler and safer”. Microsoft earlier decided on naming the service as ‘Windows Live Mail’ but developers had the idea of Hotmail’s popularity. So, Hotmail was later added to the name of ‘Windows Live’. It was a part of Microsoft’s software plus services programs. Other properties that were branded as life are Xbox Live, Games for Windows- live, office live.
With a sign in the process this easy, came the repercussions. Easier sign in the process led to the creation of countless email accounts in a very short span of time and no measures were taken to prevent malware attack. A security flaw emerged in 1999 and users started complaining about their accounts being hacked and receiving emails from their friend’s account. That resulted in spamming the email accounts to a great extent. Spammers soon started loading the emails with junk. Hackers hacked millions of email accounts using a single password ‘eh’ that indicated a security flaw. At one point, all the Hotmail email accounts were fully accessible by anyone without even a password. Hackers changed the username in an access URL and no computer programming was required in the whole course.
Later, it was found that a bug allowed the hacker to change the password for email accounts which blocked out the owner. As a result, the hacker got all the access to the email account. Some hackers set out to hack Hotmail accounts for $20. There were Youtube videos made and posted showing a live Hotmail hacking process.
New Hotmail Sign in Process
Microsoft introduced yet another version of Hotmail in 2012 named ‘Outlook’. Outlook offers the whole Microsoft suite of services like email, tasks and contacts, calendar, notes, journals. You may call it a tool for personal management of information. Along with that, it supports over 106 different languages. Microsoft has included Outlook in the office suite of web-based applications and services. Microsoft has released mobile applications to access the email accounts and other services offered at any time on all the operating systems including iOS and Android.
With the introduction of Outlook, many security measures have been taken. Security has been stabilized and strict guidelines are set up. Here are some of the changes made in the sign in process.
- An integrated hotmail sign in page for all the services Microsoft offers. It provides access to all the online services from one sign in of an account holder.
- A Two-step verification mechanism under the “security and privacy” head has been added to strengthen the sign in process of your Microsoft account. It works by generating and sending a unique code on your phone number/email every time you log in.
- Setting up a backup email and phone number to retrieve passwords and getting alerts. When any suspicious activity is spotted, the system asks the user if it was him/her who tried logging in from another device.
- Email address and username, both have to be entered first while signing in. Next step is keying in the account password. If the password is forgotten, there is a link provided below the box to recreate it.
- Added ‘Keep me signed in‘ feature that will allow users to stay logged in on the same device. This way user does not need to sign in every time he wants to access his mail account.
Hotmail New Security Features
- It is very important to have a strong password to your email account. As users need to enter their email address almost everywhere today to get access to the information. The strong password is the one that has alphanumeric characters. The password should have a mix of special characters as well as case sensitive letters with a minimum eight characters. It is suggested to use a blend of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters to make the password robust and tough to crack.
- Use of Microsoft authenticator app to make signing in easier and safer.
- Saving additional information about users which are specific that is needed while retrieving the old password. These additional information includes saving backup email addresses, phone numbers, answering two security questions. All such things help to safeguard the account and makes the recovery of the account easier.
- Outlook has set up an anti-phishing filter. Also, it does not automatically load images in HTML emails like it used to do earlier. It does not permit every attachment to open if it seems harmful.
Although, there have been numerous changes made to the same webmail service provider time and again. Users are often left confused regarding the sign in page and domain name. Luckily, even when there are so many domains to choose from, you can enter any of them and you will be redirected to the current official outlook page. Here are some of the domain names you could search for to reach the sign in page – Hotmail.com, login.live.com, mail.live.com. You will end up on the outlook sign in page from all these domains.