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Hotmail is a free web-based email service operated by Microsoft as part of Windows Live. One of the first web-based email services, it was founded by Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith and launched in July 1996 as "HoTMaiL". It was acquired by Microsoft in 1997 for an estimated $400 million, and shortly after, it was rebranded as "MSN Hotmail". The current version was released in 2011.
Hotmail features unlimited storage, Ajax, and integration with Microsoft's instant messaging (Windows Live Messenger), calendar (Hotmail Calendar), file hosting service (SkyDrive), and contacts platform. According to comScore (August 2010), Windows Live Hotmail was the world's largest web-based email service with 369 million members at the time, followed by Gmail and Yahoo! Mail, respectively. It is available in 36 different languages.
Gmail has now overtaken Hotmail with 425 million active users worldwide as of June 2012.