Once upon a time, there was only one important free mail service. When I left Oslo University to go to London and knew I was going to loose my student address, this was where I went to get a new mailbox. And even a couple of years later, when I started working for Opera, bugs affecting Hotmail were top-top-top priority. (Opera 7.51's bug 143675, "Opera deletes random messages from my Hotmail inbox" remains one of the scariest bugs I've analysed. Few bugs match that one in obvious and devastating violation of the user's trust.)
Well, how times have changed… A quick search of bugs filed for the respective services since GMail launched shows that there are roughly 3 times more GMail-bugs than Hotmail bugs in the bug tracker since 2004. Apparently, GMail's popularity has skyrocketed while Hotmail's has dropped, right?
Not so fast. Sometimes I see lists of E-mail addresses wherever random people register for newsletters or sign up for something in a reception. Technical people who tend to use Opera more frequently may lean heavily towards GMail, but among the general population Hotmail / Windows Live Mail is still a giant.
This is why I'm very glad to say that it should now be possible to use Hotmail's AJAXy interface with Opera 9.2x and 9.5. It's thanks to a sophisticated browser.js patch from David Bloom and an extra "spoof as Firefox" setting. If you're a Hotmail user, let me know how it works for you!