Outlook.com snares 1M sign-ups in first 6 hours

Microsoft's UI reboot of Hotmail off to a solid start

More than 1 million people had registered with the new Outlook.com email service on opening day, Microsoft said yesterday.

The company announced the milestone in a tweet posted about six hours after Outlook.com went live. "One million people have signed up for a new, modern email experience [at Outlook.com]," the firm said Tuesday afternoon.

Microsoft launched a preview of the consumer online email service around 9 a.m. PT yesterday.

The 1 million represents 0.3% of the 324 million who used Hotmail in June, according to Web measurement firm comScore. While some of the former number may have been new to Microsoft's email, the bulk were likely already in the Redmond, Wash. company's fold.

Microsoft may have aimed Outlook.com at its rival Google, which has an estimated 277 active million users of its Gmail service, but the service is essentially a major refresh of Hotmail, which will be retired at some point.

Microsoft acquired Hotmail in 1997, a year after its debut, for a reported $400 million, but has been unable to shake its reputation as a spam-ridden, entry-level service. While Microsoft has made significant strides in beating back spam, and introduced numerous advanced features, the brand was tainted, some analysts have said.

Although Outlook.com is opt-in during the preview that kicked off Tuesday, eventually all current Hotmail users will be forced to the new user interface (UI). However, those people will be able to retain their hotmail.com addresses indefinitely, as will users with live.com and msn.com accounts.

Computerworld's FAQ contains more information about switching to Outlook.com and obtaining a new email address for the service.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

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