As time passed, the webmail service initially called "HoTMaiL" (a play on words with the "
HTML" markup language that lies under web pages), has changed names several times. After Microsoft purchased it, it was renamed "MSN Hotmail", and stayed that way for a long time, until it was called its current official name of "Windows Live Hotmail". But most people, still today, refer to the largest free email provider in the world simply as "Hotmail".
Although Microsoft has purchased several "localized" versions of the Hotmail domain name, like
hotmail.co.uk for the United Kingdom,
hotmail.de for Germany,
hotmail.fr for France (etc.), the over 300 million Windows Live Hotmail users worldwide had soon picked up the most popular user names available (the part of your email address that comes before the "@" symbol).
The official change of name to "Windows Live Hotmail" also saw the purchase of Live.com domain names by Microsoft, which increased the pool of user names by several times, since Microsoft also purchased localized variations of the Live.com domain. So, behind the scenes, you have two separate domain names, but they are in fact the same exact email service. Whether your email address ends in "
@live.com" (or one of these domains with a different country extension), you are in fact using the regular Hotmail email service.
When you want to login to your email account, you can in fact either type "hotmail.com" in your web browser's address bar, or type "mail.live.com" - both addresses will bring you to the same screen, which on the left allows you to create a Hotmail account, and on the right includes Hotmail Sign in.
So, in practical terms, there is no difference between MSN Hotmail, Hotmail, Windows Live Hotmail, Live.com, and Hotmail.com! Make sure that you use the correct domain name when you sign in to your email account, though, since the user name "
firstname.lastname@example.org", and "
email@example.com" are considered as three separate and different accounts.