History and Background
When the Internet became a major public communications medium in the 1990s, many saw it as a great opportunity for a personal and instant communication system - email. Many free email providers arrived, but the first major player was Microsoft, with the release of Hotmail. Qualcomm soon released Eudora, followed by Yahoo and just recently, Google. And so the race to provide the most profitable and popular email service began
Microsoft Hotmail -
This has always been the most popular email service on the web. It's success is mainly due to massive publicity, worldwide services and has now become nearly the default email service for starting Internet users. If you want an email, you go to Hotmail. It was barely threatened by other companies until the recent launch of Google's Gmail. A year or so ago, Hotmail offered a measly 2 MB storage for email. Then out of the blue, Gmail launched a massive 1 GB email service for public use. Luckily for Hotmail, Gmail is currently in beta and only available through an invitation based signup. Hotmail has now increased email capacity to 250 MB in an effort to rival Gmail.
Personally, I don't like Hotmail. It's pages load slower than other providers. Ads are found literally everywhere. Even with 250MB, the capacity is still small in comparison to Gmail and Yahoo Mail. Being the largest provider of email, it is also the most targeted by hackers and unauthorized users.
On the other hand it has the backing of Microsoft, has generally high quality spam and virus filters, has nice HTML email features and also works beautifully with other Microsoft products such as MSN Messenger and MSN Spaces.
Google Gmail -
Released as an invitation only beta on April 1, 2004 (no it was not an April Fool's joke) Gmail made free email history when it announced that its new email service would boast a massive 1GB of free email storage. This was 500 times what Hotmail and 250 times what Yahoo offered at the time and thus users around the world just couldn't get enough of Gmail. People who were lucky enough to receive an invitation were generally great beta testers, but some began selling these invitations on websites like Ebay. I myself was lucky enough to receive an invitation from Gmail in its early stages. At the time most users were given no more than 10 invitations to hand out. Today I have 50, with quickly replenishment of these after use.
Personally, I love Gmail. It's got a clean and fast interface, with very easy to use features. It's storage is great, but few users will ever use even half of the space. It's spam filters are good, but I would have to say Hotmail did a better job. POP and IMAP access are now available, as well as email forwading.
But even Gmail has its cons. It lacks thorough HTML email support, both for viewing and composing. It lacks some common features in other email services, such as a choice of spam filter level, the ability to trash messages easily and also doesn't work well (works only in plain HTML mode) with Opera and other older browsers.
Also there have been 2 privacy issues raised with Gmail. Firstly, the unobtrusive and generally clean looking ads on the right of most pages are contextual. This means these ads are generated based on page content, or in this case email content. Therefore everytime you view an email, you're email content is analyzed and then converted into ads for Google's revenue. According to Google, this is all done by robots not humans, and therefore the email is never read by any humans, but none the less, many users get freaked out when they see their email posted in ad-form on the right of the screen.
Many are linking Gmail with selling your soul to the devil. Will you fall into a 1GB storage temptation to sell your privacy? Well I personally don't believe these privacy allegations, but you have to make up your own mind.
Also please let me tell you that as of April 1, 2005, Google upgraded all email accounts to 2GB storage, and as a added gimmick, that amount is constantly growing at approximately 3.5 MB a day (this rate constantly changes). As of the 6th of August, 2005, the size of all Gmail accounts was at 2465 MB.
Since Gmail is currently in invitation-only beta, if you would like to join, please use this Gmail Invite Request Form and I will happily send you an invitation.
Yahoo Mail -
Yahoo Mail is currently the 2nd largest email provider in the world, just behind Hotmail. Before Gmail was introduced, it gave 4MB of space to free users, double what Hotmail offered. To compete with Google's Gmail, Yahoo has now increased their email capacity to a massive 1GB. Of course, since Gmail increased their accounts to 2GB, Yahoo is still 2nd to the new email giant.
Ignoring storage space for a while, Yahoo Mail is a pretty robust email service. It's ads are considerably smaller and less obtrusive than Hotmail's, and is not contextual like Gmail's. It's interface is slower than Gmail's and around the same speed as that of Hotmail. It has very good spam and virus filters, and also works great with other Yahoo products such as Yahoo Messenger. Also when you sign up for Yahoo Mail, your Yahoo ID can be used for practically everything else Yahoo.
It has very few cons as well. The ads are sometimes flashy and your pages might load slower because of them but that's the only real downside. So maybe Yahoo is your email service choice.
Even if some of you want me to, I will not blatantly state the best email service here. This is because I don't believe there is such thing as the *best* when it comes to email services. I personally like Gmail, but there are millions out there that would disagree with me. Some people love the simplicity of Gmail, the support of Hotmail or the great spam filters of Yahoo. You have to make a choice based on your liking and your needs. So go ahead and find out for youself what email service is best for you.
This article was originally published at http://www.articlesandtools.com/webmail.php . Find more great articles like this one at http://www.ArticlesandTools.com .
This article was written by Soroush King, a certified programmer and web developer.