Hotmail & Yahoo Mail: Best of the Best


Last time, Andrew reviewed the non-Hotmail and non-Yahoo Mail web-based e-mail options (are there really any other viable options, though?). This time, I take a look at the leaders in this arena: Hotmail and Yahoo Mail.

1. Hotmail (MSN Mail)

Capacity: 2 MB (upgradeable)
Address book: Yes
POP Mail checking: Yes, up to 4 accounts
Automatic forwarding: No
Spam filter: Yes; up to 10 different filters!

Cool Extras:

  • Dictionary and thesaurus when composing messages. You’ll definitely use this handy feature!
  • Spell checker.
  • Free newsletters with Hotmail WebCourier.
  • Stationery allows you to quickly decorate your messages with different styles.
  • Allows you to scan incoming attachments with McAfee VirusScan, so you won’t have to worry if that .EXE you receive is loaded with viruses.
  • Use Hotmail offline synchronization with Outlook Express. This is reason alone to use Hotmail instead of any other web-based e-mail site. When you check your regular POP mail from your ISP, you can also configure Outlook Express to receive and download your Hotmail messages. To set this up, go into the Hot Tips section under the Hotmail News button on the left-hand navigation bar.
  • Be notified when you receive messages with MSN Messenger, Microsoft’s answer to AOL Instant Messenger.

Comments: Hotmail, which was named after the Web’s coding language, HTML, is the industry standard for web-based e-mail. Hotmail was already huge before Microsoft plopped down $400 million for it, and it continues to be the leader in growth. It seems that everybody has a Hotmail account, and for good reason: It has it all, especially for users of the MSN portal. Hotmail is also a solid bet because of its integration with the Passport system that Microsoft owns. Passport is a great idea because sites in the Passport network tap into the Hotmail registration database and don’t require you to set up a unique username and password for any site in its network. Also, the ability to store your credit card data securely in its digital wallet is nice.

The only drawback to Hotmail is its overwhelming interface. When a new user lays eyes on a web-based e-mail site, it can take a while to acclimatize to the interface. With Hotmail, it takes a bit longer due to Microsoft’s insistence on plastering it with links to MSN content and other links that only serve to clutter up the place. Other than this small gripe, Hotmail is the one to beat.

Rating: 3 stars. Top notch.

2. Yahoo Mail

Capacity: 6 MB, upgradeable to 20 MB for $19.95 per year
Address book: Yes
POP Mail checking: Yes, up to 3 accounts.
Automatic forwarding: No
Spam filter: Yes

Cool Extras:

  • Vacation autoresponders let everyone know that you’ll be out of town for a while.
  • Spell checker.
  • Subscribe to Yahoo content and have it delivered in your inbox; options include the Yahoo Daily Wire, Yahoo Weekly Picks, and Yahoo Weekly Live Wire.
  • Reminders allow you to set up e-mail, Yahoo Messenger, or pager reminders for any event.
  • As with Hotmail, you can receive your Yahoo mail at any POP account using Outlook Express, Eudora, or any other mail program, but there’s a catch: You have to sign up for Yahoo Delivers and receive targeted e-mail offers for categories that you can specify (which sounds a lot like legal spam!).
  • Integration with Yahoo Calendar.

Comments: There sure isn’t much glitz to Yahoo Mail, but it does sport one of the cleanest interfaces of any other competitor, which is why I prefer it for my non-business e-mail. With Yahoo Mail, you can manage your e-mail quickly and easily, and if you already use My Yahoo as your portal of choice, you can get e-mail alerts with Yahoo Companion. If I didn’t use Yahoo Mail, I would almost certainly fall in with Hotmail.

Rating: 3 stars for its ease of use.

You may also like