Free email will become a ?component? of the Microsoft Network following the PC software supplier?s acquisition of California start-up Hotmail on 2 January.
No financial details of the acquistion were released, but analysts estimated the stock deal for the two-year-old company would be in the range of hundreds of million of dollars.
Hotmail will be integrated into sites on the Microsoft Network, such as the Expedia travel site and the CarPoit car-buying site. Microsoft hopes that Hotmail will generate traffic on those sites and attact more advertising revenue in the process. MSN members will also be able to check their MSN email via the Web. Hotmail?s 9 million users can access e-mail over the Internet from any computer with a Hotmail account.
Laura Jennings, MSN vice president, said: "Our goal is to combine the benefits of Hotmail with Microsoft services and technology to provide consumers the best combination of free and premium e-mail services."
Hotmail will be run as a subsidiary company of Microsoft from its existing headquarters in Sunnyvale, California. Its manegement team will report to Jennings.
Sabeer, Bhatia, founder and chief executive of Hotmail, promised existing Hotmail users that the service will remain free. ?While we will offer premium services for a modest charge from time to time, Hotmail email remains free - just as it has always been,? she said in a letter to all customers.
She also promised that the service would not favour Microsoft?s Internet Explorer. ?We will continue to support the widest variety of browsers, from all versions of Navigator, to Internet Explorer, to set-top-boxes and myriad other devices - just as we always have,? she said.
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