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Gmail Takes Largest Webmail Service Crown 383

redletterdave writes "After several years of dominance, Microsoft's Web-based email service, Hotmail, has been unseated by Google's significantly younger webmail service, Gmail. Google announced it had about 350 million monthly active users in January; since then, that number has ballooned to 425 million." Remember when people ran their own mail servers?
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Gmail Takes Largest Webmail Service Crown

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  • FIFO (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 30, 2012 @12:06AM (#40501887)

    First in, First out. Cya, hotmail.

  • by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @12:09AM (#40501895)
    But maybe 1:100 people I know use hotmail. Simply, no one does. Hell, there are probably more AOL active email addresses in my address book compared to Hotmail.
    • by hobarrera ( 2008506 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @12:13AM (#40501919) Homepage

      Actually, the main difference is that AOL is US only, while hotmail had a lot of worldwide users. I must know about 45% hotmail, 45% gmail, and 10% "all the rest". I'm guessing that's pretty much how modern distribution goes as well.

      • AOL isn't US only, though I have no idea why anyone else would use it. As I said in another post here, I have a small business with about 1000 customers, and of my ~40 AOL addresses in my customer list, 2 of them are in the UK.

        • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
          America Online wasn't based in and focused on America? That's news to me. I haven't run across anyone outside the US using an AOL address, even after they left the ISG model and went to the locationless value-add model.
          • I was shocked as well when one of my friends mentioned using AOL [] in Germany in the 90s. There's a brief mention of it in their history [] too. Pretty wild, now that I think about it I almost miss the mailers which made great give away CD holders. One of their properties (ICQ) is pretty big in Europe (mostly eastern and Russia) to this day.
    • by solarissmoke ( 2470320 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @12:15AM (#40501935)
      I'm pretty sure there are hundreds of thousands of Gmail users who have an old and defunct Hotmail account that they forward to their Gmail account (just in case that high-school sweetheart tries to get back in touch). They will be pushing up the Hotmail count, despite the fact that they aren't active users in any sense.
    • I saw them fairly often about five years ago, when I was working at the university bookstore. They had raffles-cum-newsletter signups with old-fashioned cards, and I was the poor schmuck who got to punch them into the database. Lots of FirstnameLastYearofbirth @hotmail and @yahoo, but very few gmail accounts.

      I stopped using my hotmail account before Microsoft bought it, back when frames were still considered a bright idea. At this point my Gmail address is a magnet for spam and idiots using it to sign up fo

      • Perhaps when IPv6 comes out self-hosting will be more of an option again. ISPs charge a pretty penny if you want to have a static IP.
        • They do? Not everywhere I guess ... a static IPv4 address is a $5/month add-on for my current home DSL plan. And even without paying that, my IPv6 address is static (or rather, the /56 prefix they assign me is static).

          But despite that I still don't really want to go to the trouble of self hosting - buying a cheap domain and using free Google Apps for mail works great and gives me high reliability while still letting me fully control my own mail.

          • by EdIII ( 1114411 )

            I don't think you need a static to run a mail server as long as you have a dynamic DNS.

            Most DHCP addresses are pretty damn static anyways. I know with DynDns you can set the TTL to be very short (in seconds on a paid account) which would take care of an address that changes every 24 hours.

            As long as you can control basic DNS records for your domain (GoDaddy even lets you do that) you can set the MX record for the domain to be the Dynamic DNS address and the whole thing should work just fine.

            I've never actu

        • by hene ( 866198 )
          My DHCP address stays same because my server is always up. When it doesn't, theres [].
    • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @12:23AM (#40501983)

      I disagree with this. I've been running a very small internet business for a few years now, and have about 1000 customers so far; out of those 1000, about 150 have addresses, while only about 40 have addresses. The customers aren't really computer experts either, so it's a crowd where I'm not surprised to have AOL users, but still, there's lots more hotmail users. In fact, there's actually more hotmail users than Yahoo users, of which there's about 120. Not surprisingly, Gmail tops the list, at over 230. The rest is things like (a little over 30, close to the number in fact),, etc. along with some business email addresses and various other ISPs, large and small.

    • by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @12:27AM (#40501997)

      I'm surprised Hotmail just lost its crown. It has millions of spam accounts on there.

      Either their spam detection just got better, or the spammers themselves are leaving Hotmail because no one takes Hotmail seriously anymore.

    • Maybe nobody had a spare Gmail invite to send those people so they had to stay on hotmail lol.
    • Nah, Hotmail was THE webmail service in the late 90s to early 2000s when the internet was growing very fast, and thus I think most people have or had a Hotmail address around here. Not in the US so 'AOL' never existed.

      In the 2001-2005 period when I was at university easily 2/3rds of people used a Hotmail address (and the remainder used their ISP-provided email address). Now it's a lot lot less as Gmail has pretty much taken over. I still use my Hotmail address, but only as a 'throwaway' address for website

  • Own email server (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hobarrera ( 2008506 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @12:12AM (#40501911) Homepage

    Remember when people ran their own mail servers?

    I do, because I still run my own, as plenty of power-users do. Of course, the masses never ran their own e-mail servers, even before webmail, they just used POP3 or IMAP.

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <> on Saturday June 30, 2012 @12:15AM (#40501939) Homepage

      Oh lots of people probably would still run their own, even on their home internet connections if they could. Unfortunately, most ISP's no longer allow people to run servers.

      • Just sign up for a vpn account with prq, they give you straight unfirewalled vpn with it's own static IP address.

      • Actually, ISP don't allow nor disallow it. The issue is you need a static IP (to receive mail). Even if you manage to get around that (low TTL on DNS, constantly updating data), and most large e-mail providers (google/hotmail/yahoo) will bounce emails from dynamically-allocated IP addresses. The issue is still not ISP side, but rather large-email-host-side.

        • by EdIII ( 1114411 )

          I don't think the static IP makes any difference. It probably is still listed in the PBLs.

          Only need I ever came across for one was site-to-site VPN tunnels.

          Most static IP addresses are on business accounts, and you are allowed to run servers on those.

      • by Nursie ( 632944 )

        In the UK I had several (consumer) ISPs that were happy to sell me (for around 1 GBP per month) a static IP address, unblock incoming and outgoing port 25 and when requested politely even set up rDNS records for me.

        YMMV as they say.

    • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

      Remember when people ran their own mail servers?

      I do, because I still run my own, as plenty of power-users do. Of course, the masses never ran their own e-mail servers, even before webmail, they just used POP3 or IMAP.

      I run my own mail server, but I still dump most of my mail into a Gmail account since their spam filtering works better than any open source alternatives I've found. I spent a lot of time training Spamassassin's bayesian filter, and though it was pretty good, I finally figured out that Gmail is just easier. Thousands of other users are training their filters and I've found that few spams make it through, and few hams are flagged as spams.

      But I have a few email addresses only known to family and close frien

    • Re:Own email server (Score:5, Informative)

      by qxcv ( 2422318 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @12:43AM (#40502111)

      I do, because I still run my own, as plenty of power-users do. Of course, the masses never ran their own e-mail servers, even before webmail, they just used POP3 or IMAP.

      I don't. Google Apps is free for 50 users, almost never goes down, configures itself automatically and does a better job of protecting my data than I could. I don't even use the web interface, I just hook my mail client up to it and away it goes. "Fire and forget".

      • by martin-boundary ( 547041 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @03:13AM (#40502729)

        and does a better job of protecting my data than I could.

        LOL. The one thing Google does NOT do is protect your data. To protect your data, you keep it to yourself, you don't let Google/FBI/CIA/TSA/MAFIAA/Obama snoop it up and either censor it or take it hostage etc.

        American corporations are a terrible place to store your data, unless "you have nothing to hide".

    • Re:Own email server (Score:4, Informative)

      by Zadaz ( 950521 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @01:03AM (#40502253)

      Yeah, I used to run my own email server. And I would spend hours a week dealing with spam. And I made it a rule to spend an equal amount of time trying to prevent future spam, tweaking rule sets, blacklists, whitelists, filters... After having the same email address for nearly 20 years the amount of spam was truly astounding.

      Now I just pipe it through Google Apps For Your Domain. Weekly time spent dealing with spam: 5 seconds. Sure, it doesn't have all the advantages of running your own, but I get hours back in my week, which is priceless.

    • I run my own. Always did. There, in the living room rack, under the TV. As natural as a mailbox streetside.

    • Re:Own email server (Score:5, Informative)

      by arkhan_jg ( 618674 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @03:14AM (#40502735)

      I'm in the process of shifting our 2000 accounts from our own mail server to google apps for education.

      Running your own mail server is a pain in the ass these days. With the massive torrent of spam - including pornographic spam - that gets ever harder to filter, without also blocking legitimate mail. RBLs on SMTP, greylisting, bayesian filters, image-to-text converters to then run bayesian analysis on... it's not even close to enough. Then you have virus infected laptops stealing credentials from the legit mail client and trying to send spam, finding a decent web-mail client that doesn't suck and keeping it updated (roundcube, BTW, is miles better than squirrelmail), the headmaster getting his password stolen so a spammer starts using his legit account to access our external access relay and send a bunch of spam for a few hours before we shut it down, still dealing with being on random blacklists for two weeks afterwards; but the ISP relay smtp server gets blacklisted even more often, setting up SPF and domain keys so some staff members email to a parent doesn't get randomly blocked because of yet another new anti-spam standard you have to adhere to...

      Dealing with user complaints of why this was marked with spam when it shouldn't be, why this wasn't, why I can't send this 40MB powerpoint, where's this email gone that I swear was there a minute ago, making sure the VM server doesn't run out of drive space, neither does the backup server, making sure the backups don't slow the system down, making sure the backups work; keeping the system up 100% of the time and still doing maintenance, updates and changes to work around yet another 'email bounced' problem, making sure the various cluster boxes keep in sync, debugging why the logging server has choked this time...

      I have a 100 other systems jobs to do. Babysitting the multiple postfix, dovecot and nginx servers to keep mail service up and running reliably spam free (ish) takes up a lot of my time that could be more profitably spent improving and add new services/software. Thank god we never met the cost/benefit pass-grade of exchange to add that too and only had to have simple IMAP support.

      Instead, I can move the entire system to google apps, ad free, for free because we're education, and google have obviously learned from microsoft that catching students early means they'll end up a customers themselves later. And I'm fine with that. They have far better spam filtering than I can ever hope to achieve on my own even with my battery of different open-source tools. They have far more engineers. They have coverage round the clock, so I'll hopefully stop getting phone calls on christmas morning about the bloody email system. They can store 25GB a user without stressing me out about whether we're going to hit the limits of our budget on FC SAN storage.
      They have a nice web interface; and shared docs, calendars and contact lists thrown in for free. I can clone all mail live, so I can still backup everything off site.

      All in all, I'm going to be _very_ glad to see the back of running my own mail server.

      • by dejanc ( 1528235 )

        Dealing with user complaints of why this was marked with spam when it shouldn't be, why this wasn't, why I can't send this 40MB powerpoint, where's this email gone that I swear was there a minute ago.

        Be prepared for dealing with such stuff on Google Apps too. A couple of years ago I moved an institution to Google Apps. Overall, it has been a positive experience, but it took them awhile to understand that I can't do much if "this email is gone that I swear was there a minute ago" or stuff like that.

        Also, you

  • POP3 access. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zippo01 ( 688802 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @12:16AM (#40501943)
    I just remember back in the day how hard it was to POP3 Hotmail. So I never used it. I have several GMAIL accounts for several years, that I use fetchmail on and then host on a private IMAP server. But to be honest i can't remember the last time I received or sent ligitament email to a hotmail address.
  • by Zemran ( 3101 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @12:18AM (#40501955) Homepage Journal

    ... before Microsoft bought it. It used to run on Unix and was a good reliable service. Then it was bought up and run down and now it is rubbish. Gmail is getting better every week. I use docs to collaborate with people on things and even though I know most of them copy and paste the finished article into Word before they print it, that facility is fantastic. My calendar etc. and spreadsheets, I could go on (POP3 etc.) but my point is that while one keeps getting more useful the other is stagnant. Why would anyone choose to use Hotmail unless they are already known to be there?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Grishnakh ( 216268 )

      Gmail is NOT "getting better every week". It hit its peak about a year or so ago, before they forced this idiotic new UI change on us.

      • by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @12:41AM (#40502091)

        Gmail is NOT "getting better every week". It hit its peak about a year or so ago, before they forced this idiotic new UI change on us.

        Just wanted to second this. If I could go back to the way it was a year ago I'd be happy. I'm also tired of the Gmail Labs kludges that add functionality and break something somewhere else. (like the preview pane that makes it so I can no longer see the 'recent activity' at the bottom of the screen.)

        I wouldn't be offended if they took what they know about it now and did a rewrite, thoughtfully including a number of the features from Labs. Do a little streamlining, reduce some of the bloat, all that jazz. Oh well, I can dream.

      • It was Larry Page's decision, and his alone. He demanded they completely re-design everything. I think it's akin to a dog spraying everything he comes across with the scent of any other animal on it; he's gotta put his mark on it somehow, even though he has absolutely nothing to do with it.
    • So you're dinging Hotmail because it doesn't have a decent Office suite, not because it's a shitty webmail service? Then you skip the actual POP3 etc. argument. Weak
    • What anti MS FUD. When was the last time Hotmail was down? It may have issues, but reliability is not one of them. Never was.

  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @12:18AM (#40501957)

    Remember when people ran their own mail servers?

    Yeah, I do. I also remember relay rape and all that fun stuff when you didn't have your mail server configured just right and a spammer would take it over and you'd get a nastygram from your provider.

    BMO - Lumber Cartel member #2501

    • by hobarrera ( 2008506 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @12:51AM (#40502161) Homepage

      Yeah, nowadays spammers have a much easier job, they just send you "", and say "here's your photos from tokyo last night". People still download it and and run it.

      As long as people unwilling to use their brain exists, spammers will always find a way to exploit them.

      • by bmo ( 77928 )

        >People still download it and and run it.

        That. I gave up spamfighting as a hobby when the spammers stopped looking for open relays and went to just hijacking broadband connections and botnets. It's one thing when you could fire off a and cross your fingers that it would get read and an account nuked or a relay closed, but something entirely when a spammer's got his load spread among 1,000 (or tens or hundreds of thousand) broadband Wintel toybox machines.


        • I gave up spamfighting as a hobby

          All but a few noble souls have. The rest who run mailservers set up spamassassin to auto-update rules and go on to other tasks.

  • android (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 30, 2012 @12:21AM (#40501967)

    I dunno, maybe the fact of requiring a gmail account to setup an android phone has something to do with it maybe?

    • I dunno, maybe the fact of requiring a gmail account to setup an android phone has something to do with it maybe?

      Same deal with Hotmail and MSN chat, isn't it?

      I know a lot of people that still use MSN chat for some reason.

      • by Vylen ( 800165 )

        It used to be that way, but now you just need a Windows Live ID to use MSN Messenger.

        A Live ID can be attached to any email - doesn't need to be Hotmail.

        That said, I still use my Hotmail address for Messenger... just legacy purposes ;)

      • I signed up for an MSN Messenger account back in 2002 or early 2003 using my .edu address at the college I had just started at. Admittedly, it wasn't an obvious process to set it up, as I recall, since they did try to make it as difficult as possible to use an outside e-mail address, but the option has been there for probably a decade or more.

    • Having never used an Android phone, I am interested in this statement - do you actually need a Gmail account to setup an Android phone? Or do you just need a Google ID (which is understandable - but my understanding was a Google ID can be tied to any old email address and doesn't necessarily have to have a Gmail account attached)...

      • You need neither. You can set up an Android phone without any ties to Google whatsoever.

      • Re:android (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Lincolnshire Poacher ( 1205798 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @01:37AM (#40502405)

        do you actually need a Gmail account to setup an Android phone?

        A basic Google Account can be used to configure the phone but will fail if the user then tries to use the Android Market functionality; the Market requires a Gmail account.

        There is a long, long thread on Google's "support" forum about this dating back to somewhere in 2009, but still no fix!

        On a basic level the phone will work fine without any form of Google account, you just won't be able to use features such as sync or the Market. I do find the latter to be quite limiting, particularly when some vendors ( such as Amazon ) don't even provide a download of their own app from their own site but insist on directing the user to the Market. I had to ask a friend to send me a copy of the Kindle APK!

  • I still run my own mail server... Don't forget that under the stored communications act the government can get any emails stored by a third party for more than 6 months with no need for a warrant.
    • Your point being? If "They" want you "They" will have you... boiled, fried, stewed, with or without a warrant...

      Or have you forgotten The little rooms the NSA keeps on the backbones sniffing and sorting all the traffic. They don't need your server -- they already have it.

        noia + noia = paranoia.

  • by BobandMax ( 95054 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @12:34AM (#40502049)

    ...but have two Gmail accounts for other purposes. I have a TW Business Class account for QOS and trading response. It comes with a static IP and no server restrictions. When my neighbors complain about slow evening and weekend speed, I bob my head up and down and make sympathetic noises. I never see any problem but certainly do pay for it.

    Several acquaintances still have Hotmail addresses but a quick scan of my address book only found three. I guess it is diminishing. It seems like they were a lot more common a few year ago.

  • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @12:39AM (#40502079)

    Hotmail didn't even deserve the level of use it had: it was competing with AOL, and had the kind of ubiquitous "auto-installed with your computer as as default, and we'll keep trying to re-install it" that AOL used to have. Both services attempted to replace the rest of your desktop and were unusable without very specific clients.

    Google's approach of working well, inside your normal web browsers, has been extremely effective. They've also been vastly more reliable than almost any in-house mail server for a lot of reasons: they were able to effectively implement basic spam filtering, they're big enough to survive denial of service attacks, and their distributed and well scaled architectures survive disasters most mail servers can only imagine being able to cope with. Also, they've avoided the religious wars about supported clients and usage models by keeping their systems off-site and their services well defined. The Exchange OWA, and the dozens of "plug-ins" connected to it to support other email clients, have driven people directly to GMail.

    Hotmail, and Exchange, _never_ worked well with non-Microsoft clients, whether browsers or IMAP access. Google always did, Google always actually published and followed their API's so other people could integrate with it, and Microsoft _never_ published or followed their own API's. What little Microsoft published was always incomplete when it was not a blatant lie.

    Google's use of and investment in open standards paid off.

  • How many are 'bots? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @12:42AM (#40502101) Homepage

    Google announced it had about 350 million monthly active users in January.

    Of which a sizable fraction are spambots. []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 30, 2012 @12:43AM (#40502105)

    Centralization of almost every service onto just a few commercial services is dangerous to the future openness and non-censored nature of the internet. We just haven't seen it yet on a big enough scale. It's too much all in one place.

    The original purpose of the internet was very much the opposite of centralization, and it was that way for many years with great success... but for some reason, everyone suddenly decided to give a single company access to all their private, financial, and even medical conversations, web browsing, and more.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 30, 2012 @12:54AM (#40502189)

    and I'm not ashamed to say it. The pay service ( I think its still 20 a year) has very good spam detection and its online gui is quite similar to a desktop client. I primarily use gmail, but I still do hop back into hotmail for password resets or to look up old receipts.

  • Gmail's interface is addictively clean and at the same time functional and powerful. Once you've tried Gmail, it's unlikely you'll go back to Hotmail or Yahoo Mail.

    When I look at Hotmail I now feel like stabbing myself in the eyes. Sorry, but Gmail has spoiled me.

  • While gmail used to be the storage space king, it has been unseated by other services which offer "unlimited" space (such as yahoo). Of course, it remains to be seen how unlimited these services really are in practice... but what I know is that I am already struggling with space with my current e-mail provider which offers me 10GB, and that does not incite me to move to gmail. Wasn't it space the main factor that made people adopt gmail in the first place ?
  • by Joe Jordan ( 453607 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @03:32AM (#40502787) Journal
    With Facebook creating email addresses for all of its 700 million+ users, does that not immediately make Facebook the largest webmail service?
  • by neiras ( 723124 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @10:29AM (#40504447)

    I pay for my email now, because I want to be someone's customer, not someone's product

    Fastmail is great. No ads, a decent Web UI when I want it, and a dedicated sysadmin team that does nothing but mail. All the Bayesian filtering, Sieve rules and DKIM signing you could want. Plus, I keep my conversations and business dealings out of Google's maw (although it's hard to avoid people who use GMail), and there's Yubikey authentication for when I'm on someone else's machine. [] (full disclosure: referral link included)

    I have administered mail servers professionally before and have quite a bit of experience with it. If I'm not being paid to do it I'm sure as hell paying someone else to deal with the hassle.

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford