Email Timeline

Microsoft Mail 3.x was a LAN server product released in 1992 capable of supporting 10 (or so) PCs maximum. However, on both Windows and IBM's OS/2, the client software was built around an early version of MAPI called MAPI 0, loosely based on the X.400 standard mentioned earlier. It could in theory enable that client to talk to any mail server by replacing the MAPI DLL (Dynamic Link Library) with a fully compliant DLL for the appropriate system.

At the same time, Netscape released Netscape Communicator in 1997 with its email client, renamed as Netscape Messenger.

Launch of Hotmail
Hotmail service was founded by Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith, and was one of the first webmail services on the Internet along with Four11's RocketMail (later Yahoo! Mail). Hotmail was commercially launched on July 4, 1996, symbolizing "freedom" from ISP-based email and the ability to access a user's inbox from anywhere in the world.

The limit for free storage was 2 MB. Hotmail was initially backed by venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson. By December 1997, it reported more than 8½ million subscribers. Hotmail initially ran under the Solaris operating system for mail services and Apache web server software under FreeBSD Unix for web services, before being partly converted to Microsoft's products, using Windows Services for UNIX in the migration path.

Hotmail was then sold to Microsoft in December 1997 for a reported $400 million, and it joined the MSN group of services. Hotmail quickly rose in popularity as it was localized for different markets around the globe, and became the world's largest webmail service, with more than 30 million active members reported in February 1999. As mentioned before, Hotmail as a service ran on a mixture of FreeBSD and Solaris operating systems.

Other Developments
Yahoo Mail was launched in 1997 as a webmail client, an alternative to Hotmail.

Apple Mail was launched in 2001 as part of Mac OS X, an email client that was a free alternative to running Microsoft Office (Outlook and Outlook Express) on the Apple Mac.

Mozilla Thunderbird was launched in 2004, a free and open-source email client that ran on the desktop.

Gmail was launched in 2004 a webmail client, another alternative to Hotmail and Yahoo.

Lastly, a comment about Australia and sending email back in 1990.
An alternative to SMTP for sending email, as mentioned earlier, was x.400 that was developed in the 1980s in Geneva by the ITU-T. It was employed by Microsoft initially.

In Australia in 1990, we thus saw two interim Internet domains and set up to support an email gateway to the X.400 mail service provided by what was then OTC (Overseas Telecommunications Commission).

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