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This article was published on June 30, 2011

Microsoft claims 10X Hotmail speed increase

Microsoft claims 10X Hotmail speed increase
Alex Wilhelm
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Alex Wilhelm

Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]

Hotmail, the email client that everyone used is still under active development by Microsoft, in case you had forgotten all about it.

We tend to view it as slow, devoid of interesting features, and difficult to use here at TNWmicrosoft. However, if Microsoft’s claims hold up, it could be that we can no longer complain about lag inside of the mail application: the company claims that it has boosted Hotmail’s speed by a massive ten times (10x).

As Gmail grinds slower and slower with each 10,000 emails you keep in it, speed could become a real selling point between differing webmail clients. Microsoft has made the following changes to Hotmail that it says have led to the speed increases:


The new Hotmail is more app-like, because it now caches information after it’s downloaded. The message list is stored in the browser’s DOM, so when users need it, Hotmail doesn’t have to download it. Hotmail also caches the email that you’ve read, so it can re-open the message nearly instantly.


The analysis of Hotmail usage patterns showed that when customers sign in to their inbox, the first thing they’re likely to do is read the subject lines of new mail to decide which messages to open. In the new Hotmail, that time is used to download and cache the first few messages so they’re ready when you need them. That way, when you choose an email to open, you don’t have to wait for the download.

Asynchronous operations:

The new Hotmail no longer waits for server responses for most operations before updating the UI. In the new Hotmail, when you delete a message, Hotmail updates the message list instantly, and you can resume working right away. In the background, Hotmail client code queues up all of your actions and calls the server to delete the email. So, the email still gets deleted, but without the wait.

And the results, again as reported by Microsoft, are as follows. To open a  message used to take 3.3 seconds, and now takes 0.18 seconds. Deleting a message used to require 3.1 seconds, and now only requires 0.14. And the action of composing a new email (opening a new blank message) has declined from requiring 4.3 seconds to 0.2 seconds.

That sounded too good to be true, so we went into our test Hotmail accounts (using IE9 as always for testing Microsoft products) and executed the timed tests that Microsoft outlined above. While we never had results as good as Microsoft listed, we certainly found the new Hotmail to be much, much faster. The user interface still lacks, and the feature set feels weak, but no longer can we chide Hotmail for being horrifically slow. That is now Gmail’s bag to carry.

Oh, and this is out for everyone now. No need to wait. You can go test it now.