Pros 250MB storage, 10MB message size, Photo Upload Tool, virus scanning, spam filters
Cons Search capabilities. Nothing else since their upgrade. Does everything I need it to
Summary I've been using the same Hotmail address as my primary email for about 10 years now. Overall, I have found it to be an excellent service. Don't get me wrong. Overall, I'm not a big Microsoft fan, for many reasons. However, Hotmail has served me very well.
I don't know if it's service wide yet, but all of my Hotmail accounts have been upgraded, starting with my oldest one, and quickly followed by the others. The email I received last year from Hotmail Services (or something like that) read something to the effect, "...to thank you as a loyal Hotmail member...we have upgraded your account...". Blah, blah, blah. You get the picture. So, now I have 250MB of storage, and all the other goodies that came with the upgrade.
I have used this account to register at countless sites on the web. Yet, after all these years, I'm usually only cleaning out 20 to 30 junk or spam messages per day. And it only takes a few seconds to accomplish. If it's not a new known contact, or a site I've subscribed to, it's gone. Yes, I use the limited junk mail blocking feature. Rather than entering a specific email address, I usually just block an entire domain. You'll know which ones you never receive legitimate emails from anyway. This greatly increased the number of addresses I can block, and drastically reduces the amount of spam I get. Also, I have my inbox set to exclusive. Only addresses in my contact list make it to the inbox. The rest, including sites I subscribe to, goes to the junk box. It still allows me to read my mail, if I have time. After 5 days, it'll disappear if I didn't have time for it. If I know I don't have time but definitely want to read it, I just send it to my inbox manually. Now it won't disappear, and I can read it when I get the chance. The only mail in my inbox, is from my family and friends, or what I choose to put there.
Hotmail's antivirus seems to work great, and always has. I've received a few infected emails over the years. I've opened them, only to find there's no content. Their antivirus has the message blocked so my computer doesn't get infected. All I see is the header, so I can write "Dave" or "Tom", etc, and say, "Hey buddy, you sent me a virus. Couldn't read your email. Clean up and resend".
I've used their new Photo Upload Tool a number of times and it works great. Within Hotmail, you can see all the photos in the folder you're uploading from. You can resize them, crop them as you wish, and check just the photos you wish to upload. Done in seconds.
Until I read this forum, I wasn't aware my address book could only hold 650 contacts. I don't even know 650 people. At least not with email addresses. It'll take a while before this becomes a concern to me. Also, I clean out old, outdated or no-longer-existing addresses.
In addition to my main email address, I have a second address exclusively for "official" purposes, used for business or government related emails. A few, exclusive relatives and friends also have it. I get about one junk mail per month there. I also have a third address in reserve, in case, one day, my oldest (main) address should ever become overrun with spam. In the past year, I think I've had three junk emails. Lucky hit. I haven't even set any blocks, or filters or even set the inbox to exclusive on these two. I've also had, and closed, a couple of "junk" addresses for cruising the net with wild abandon. Go ahead, email me. I'll never get it. Once every 30 days, I would just click on the "select all messages" box, and POOF! Good for another month. Once I get tired of the monthly routine, I just forget about it and Hotmail is kind enough to shut them down for me after 31 days of neglect. Thousands of sites now miss me and can't get to me (not they really did in the first place).
For everyday emailing, or a central point to send emails I want to keep from my work address, Hotmail works just great. It may not be the best to send "immediate action" messages to, but it's been pretty reliable for personal use. Sometimes the system does get bogged down, and unaccessable. But it doesn't usually take too long to reopen for business.
Since most of my messenger contacts use MSN, I'll be keeping my main Hotmail address for some time to come. It's saved me a bundle on long distance charges.
Pros Free POP & forwarding. The email sorting filters are great. The calendar is always up-to-date.
Cons Loading messages can be a bit slow sometimes. Customer service could be a little better.
Summary I have used Yahoo Mail, Gmail & AOL Mail in the past. No of them are near as good as Hotmail. It is very user friendly being quite easy to use. Everything works quite well. So far, I haven't had a problem yet.
I think it is amazing that having all the great features, IT'S STILL TOTALLY FREE!
Pros First of all, it's free, yay. Relatively easy to use, can be accessed easily from anywhere, and can be hooked up to a program like Windows Live Mail.
Cons Junk mail filters are horrible. Every day I get at least a few emails that are obviously junk. But the killer con is their recently overkill security that has blocked every third person from sending messages. See http://windowslivehelp.com/
Summary I like Hotmail. I use Hotmail. But if I start having the troubles that a couple I know are having, I'll look for alternatives. An elderly couple got their account blocked for suspicious activity, so had their account reviewed to no avail, they still think it's suspicious. Sums it all up nicely I think.
Pros Fast, 5 GB storage, integration with other Live tools
Cons new UI is not upto the mark
Summary Overall it's the best among top 3!
Pros works sometimes
Cons problems take a long time to fix, no support whatsoever, little control by end user
Summary i've stuck it out with my hotmail address for 7 years so i wouldn't have to deal with changing it through all the frustrations of technical difficulties, refusing to forward email to other accounts outside of hotmail, and outages(which admittedly aren't that often). But what made me finally leave hotmail is when they started blacklisting certain domains that were perfectly safe, and rejecting safe emails without giving me the option to see them. i sent myself an email from my own domain and never saw it in my hotmail account. what if that was a business, or personal friend? see error 550 i believe. now that google supports imap, there is no advantage that hotmail has over the competition. it's also slower. it's almost like they don't want to keep their accounts.