As you perhaps know from having read about Hotmail Sign in, the Windows Live Hotmail login process starts with the form pictured below, which collects your user name (which is your email address, or "Windows Live ID"), and your account password. But what about the sign in options you pick after entering your credentials? In this tutorial, you will learn what happens behind the scenes, and how convenient settings affect the security of your Windows Live Hotmail account.
The Hotmail login process starts as soon as you click on the "Sign in" button: the email address and password you entered will be "sent" to Hotmail's servers, where they'll be checked against the database of current users. If it finds a match, you will be logged in to your email account, without anything else visibly happening.
But, if you checked the "Remember me" and/or "Remember my password" checkboxes, a successful login attempt will also create a "cookie" (small text file whose content your web browser can read at a later stage), letting the Windows Live sign in screen/form what email address to automatically filling, and (if the second checkbox was checked), whether Hotmail should login automatically or not.
The cookie created by the sign in form will be accessible only for the particular web browser you are using at the time of login; so you or anyone using another browser on that same computer will not be affected. (Which is how you can login as multiple different Hotmail accounts on the same computer without having to manually logout every time - or you can each use a different Windows user name, for example.)
Every login cookie created by Hotmail is set to automatically expire after a certain time (which comes sooner if your clear your history / cookies manually). This is why you will periodically be reminded to login again, for your security.
Tip: Likewise, regardless of your sign in settings, you will be asked to login with your password whenever you are about to make a change to your Windows Live Hotmail account - this is normal, and just a safety feature designed to prevent others from messing with your account, profile, or email messages.
Remember that as soon as you click on the "Sign In" button, your information is sent to Microsoft's servers (they own Windows Live and Hotmail) to check if that was a valid login or not. If you entered the wrong information (like a typo), Windows Live will return with a login error message as follows: "The email address or password is incorrect. Please try again". Here's a screenshot of the error message:
If you get this error message, just double-check both credentials for typos (and click again on "Sign in"). If Windows Live Hotmail determines that you have tried and failed to login too often with incorrect sign in information, you will get the following login error: "You've tried to sign in too many times with an incorrect email address or password", and Hotmail will include a "captcha" test that requires that you enter matching random characters before you can proceed with another login attempt:
For example in later summer 2010, a major Hotmail.com outage crippled the webmail service and prevented anyone to login to their email accounts! The Windows Live team ended up fixing the problem and everything reverted to normal, but many people around the world were without email provider for a few hours. Hopefully 2011 doesn't bring us its share of login problems.