Redmond (WA) - For the first time, Microsoft has passed Google in the race for free e-mail capacity, lifting its storage limit for Windows Live Hotmail to 5 GB.
The new capacity will be more than double the previous amount of storage offered by Hotmail. When Windows Live Hotmail launched earlier this year, it offered users two gigabytes of e-mail space.
Gmail, which has literally been increasing user e-mail storage every day for over a year, currently offers around 2.8 GB of free storage.
When Gmail debuted in 2004 with one gigabyte of free storage, Microsoft's free Hotmail service only offered two megabytes, a meager 0.2% of Google's then-unheard-of storage space.
Intense competition forced Microsoft to step up its game and continue increasing e-mail capacity. In May, it launched a re-branded version of its service titled "Windows Live Hotmail", with two gigabytes of free storage. It was the first major response to Gmail's dwarfing level of capacity. However, many legacy users found their entire account deleted by not switching over to the new Hotmail in time.
Microsoft also offers connectivity between Hotmail and its other applications like Outlook, and an enhanced e-mail security applet for users to see immediately if any messages post a serious risk to their computer.
Both Google and Microsoft offer premium online storage servers as well. Google Account users can sign up for a variety of storage plans, beginning at $20/year for 6 GB, while Microsoft offers 10 GB for around $15/year.