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Hotmail was first introduced on July 31, 2012 when its beta version was made available to the general public. Existing Hotmail customers could freely upgrade to the preview version of Hotmail Login Page and downgrade back.

Graduated preview stage on 18 February 2013. According to Microsoft, the upgrade was deployed on April 3, 2013; the user kept their existing Hotmail accounts and received the option of having an @outlook.com email address. By May 2013,  had 400 million active users.

In May 2015, Microsoft announced it would move the service over to what it described as an Office 365-based infrastructure. This was followed in June 2015 by the introduction through an opt-in preview of new features, including new calendar layout options, a filtering service called “Clutter” and new theme designs.Microsoft also introduced the ability for third-party providers such as PayPal and Evernote to include add-ins into the service. Additionally, contact suggestions and updates from emails such as flight reservations are due to be introduced to Office 365 subscribers’ accounts and Outlook.com users’ from January and March 2016 respectively.

Similar to other major webmail services, Outlook.com uses Ajax programming techniques and supports later versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Google Chrome. Some of its features include keyboard controls giving the ability to navigate around the page without using the mouse, the ability to search the user’s messages including structured query syntax such as “from:ebay”, message filters, folder-based organization of messages, auto-completion of contact addresses when composing, contact grouping, importing and exporting of contacts as CSV files, rich text formatting, rich text signatures, spam filtering and virus scanning, support for multiple addresses, and different language versions.

The following are features in the free (and premium ad-free version of Outlook.com. One example of a feature no longer present is the ability to create custom domain names.

Has promised to respect user’s privacy, specifically targeting Gmail’s privacy practices. Outlook.com does not scan emails or attachments for advertising information and personal conversations are ad-free entirely.

In March 2014, when former Microsoft employee Alex Kibkalo was arrested for his involvement in 2012 leaking of Microsoft’s trade secrets, Microsoft came under criticism for having accessed the email inbox of his French accomplice. Critics claim these actions violate privacy laws as well as Microsoft’s own promises with regards to users’ personal information, while others have pointed out that such access is permitted under Microsoft’s privacy policies in order to “protect the rights or property of Microsoft”, that it was necessary in order to prevent a crime intended to have inflicted billions of dollars of damage, and that such action on Microsoft part is unprecedented in 18 years. In response to the criticism, Microsoft has announced that it would no longer access private account information themselves in such cases, but would instead hand the investigation over to law enforcement agencies.

Uses DMARC specifications to provide better security for message transmission and Extended Validation Certificate to secure the user’s connection with Outlook.com. On April 17, 2013, Microsoft added two step verification to Microsoft accounts, thereby by extension to

Outlook also allows for a single-use code to be used instead of a user’s password when signing into a Microsoft account. Each code can be used only one time, but one can be requested whenever needed. If a user is signing in on a public computer—such as at the library or school—using a single-use code helps keep account information secure. The single-use code is sent to the user when requested during login.

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