Microsoft claims that the Hotmail e-mail system that it acquired a year ago is now the most popular on the Internet, after hitting the 30 million active user mark.
But, although Big Green attested that the figures eclipse America Online?s (AOL) reported 14 million subscribers, the comparison is hardly fair. While Hotmail is provided free of charge, AOL users have to pay for their service and many Hotmail users employ another mailbox as their primary Internet address.
Also, though Microsoft may claim it has the highest number of users, AOL?s acquisition of Netscape is likely to make it the Internet?s number one portal site and Internet service provider.
While most portal sites now offer a similar free email service, Hotmail pioneered the concept, but had only nine million users when it was purchased in December 1997.
Despite reports this summer of security breaches that enabled hackers to access users? mailboxes, Microsoft claimed that Hotmail?s growth rate has increased rapidly since October when it was integrated with the company?s revamped Microsoft Network (MSN) portal site.
This means users can now access Hotmail directly from MSN, and Big Green attests that one million new users are signing up every week.
According to data from RelevantKnowledge, the MSN/Hotmail combination was the fifth most visited Web site in October, with about 18 million unique users.
At the time, it trailed Yahoo with 25.2 million, AOL with 24.2 million, Microsoft?s own microsoft.com at 20.5 million, and Lycos at 18.3 million. Netscape ranked sixth.
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