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Fri, Jun 25, 2004 - Page 12 News List

Hotmail follows Yahoo in offering more storage space

AP , SEATTLE

Microsoft Corp's Hotmail will become the latest Web-based e-mail service to increase the amount of storage space available for its free accounts, following similar moves by rivals.

Beginning later this summer, the company plans to increase the amount of storage for its free Hotmail account inboxes to 250 megabytes, up from two megabytes. Users also will be able to send larger attachments, up to 10 megabytes.

The Hotmail changes announced on Wednesday follow Google Inc's plans for its Gmail service, with 1,000 megabytes of free storage. The leading competitor in the Web e-mail field, Yahoo Inc, recently upgraded its free mail accounts to 100 megabytes of storage.

competitive edge

Blake Irving, a corporate vice president with Microsoft's MSN online division, said the company hadn't heard that customers were eager to bulk up storage on Hotmail accounts.

But, he said, amid the attention surrounding e-mail storage, the company didn't want competitors to have an edge with larger storage capacities.

"Our users haven't cared about storage and we just wanted to take it off the table," Irving said.

Irving says users are much more worried about issues like spam and security.

Beginning next month, Microsoft also plans to bolster the antivirus protection for its free e-mail accounts.

Previously, Hotmail would scan incoming e-mails for viruses and give users the option to delete infected files.

Now, Irving said, the service will offer to clean up the attachment, removing the virus but still allowing viewing of the e-mail.

The company used to offer this service only as part of its paid e-mail offerings.

Microsoft also has previously asked Hotmail users to pay between US$19.95 and US$59.95 a year to get between 10 and 100 megabytes of storage.

Now that those levels of storage will be free, Microsoft says it will charge US$19.95 a year for users who want two gigabytes of online storage.

Microsoft's Hotmail service attracted nearly 34.1 million unique users last month, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, trailing Yahoo, which had 40.4 million unique e-mail users.

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