Hotmail lets users pay to store more

In another step towards selling services as well as software, Microsoft has started to allow subscribers to its free e-mail service Hotmail to pay for additional online storage.

Hotmail users currently are allowed 2M bytes of space for storing emails, digital photos and other email attachments. In the past month or so, the company has been offering users the option to pay US$12.95 per year for an additional 8M bytes of storage.The fee-based service also allows users to send larger attachments.

The service is the one of several that Microsoft plans to offer its Internet users as it unravels its .Net initiative. The company has said it will use its MSN network of Web sites, which includes Hotmail, as well as its Office productivity software to deliver Web-based services to customers.

Yahoo Inc., whose free e-mail service is the top rival of Microsoft's, has offered additional fee-based services to its subscribers for some time. Yahoo's e-mail service includes 6M bytes of free storage space, and users can buy an additional 25M bytes for $19.99 per year. Yahoo subscribers can also pay for personalized e-mail addresses, domain names and real-time stock quotes.

Microsoft claims that 118 million users around the world have active Hotmail accounts. In July, the company remodeled the service with new functions, such as a beefed up spam filter, and a new user interface which resembles its other Internet properties, including the MSN portal and the MSN Explorer Web browser.

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