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Hotmail through the ages (images)

Venerable program has gone through a variety of looks, from its inception as a pioneer in free e-mail to its current role as a cornerstone of Microsoft's Windows Live service.

Ina Fried
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried
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Microsoft's first Hotmail

Microsoft acquired Hotmail in December 1997, and got 8 million users. Here is a screenshot of Hotmail as it looked then.

The venerable program has gone through a variety of looks, from its inception as a pioneer in free e-mail to its current role as a cornerstone of Microsoft's Windows Live service.

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Hotmail gets a big makeover

Microsoft showed off an early test version of Kahuna at a financial analysts' meeting in July 2005.
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The last MSN Hotmail

Hotmail, as it looked in early 2006, before its Windows Live makeover was completed.
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Hotmail becomes Windows Live Mail

An April 2006 test version of Windows Live Mail. Before the service exited beta, Microsoft had brought back the Hotmail name, dubbing the product Windows Live Hotmail.
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Hotmail brings back its classic look

To assuage critics who found the new look too jarring, Microsoft brought back a "classic view" for the Windows Live product, one that more closely resembled the old Hotmail. That version, which also worked better on slow connections, eventually was made the default option for existing customers.
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Windows Live Hotmail circa 2009

Here's a look at a more current version of Windows Live Hotmail, reflecting its look as of last year.

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