downloaded it on my computer when she was home this summer. Now every time I go
online it opens that account and her friends want to start chatting thinking I
am her. Is there any way I can get Hotmail off of my computer and not mess up
This actually illustrates a very surprising confusion I see regularly on Ask
Many people don’t realize that Hotmail, MSN Instant Messenger, and even MSN
itself are all very different things. They use the terms for one when talking
about the other, or use a generic term like “MSN” which could be many different
The question above is a good example: the behavior sounds like MSN Instant
Messenger, yet the question references Hotmail.
So which is it, really?
Let’s start by defining each of those.
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Hotmail, originally “HoTMaiL” emphasizing that it was HTML
mail, is an online email service. By visiting http://hotmail.com and logging in with your own account,
you can send and receive email. As long as you have a web browser (and if
you’re reading this, you do), there is nothing to download. Visit Hotmail,
login, read and send email. That’s pretty much all there is to it.
MSN Instant Messenger is an instant messaging client. It
allows you to chat in real time with other people using MSN Instant Messenger,
or compatible chat clients. This is a program that you typically
download and install in order to
use. (Though there are web-based versions of the client, the phrase “MSN
Instant Messenger” refers, specifically, to the downloadable program.)
There’s further confusion, of course, because there’s a compatible, but
different, instant messaging program called “Windows Messenger”.
MSN, short for MicroSoft Network, is a family of services
and products created by Microsoft. It begins with its home page, http://msn.com, which is a general
internet “portal” – a web site that contains news, features and links to other
sites and services. Both Hotmail and MSN Instant Messenger are a part of
So you can see that when someone asks me “How do I uninstall Hotmail?” –
well, the question doesn’t really make sense. It’s not something that was
installed in the first place.
What this question is really referring to is, of course, MSN Instant
Messenger. It does support both automatic login, and the ability of friends to
see that you are logged in, so that they can start chatting with you.
The answer to that question is either to uninstall it, or perhaps
to disable it’s auto-login feature. Instructions for uninstalling both Windows
and MSN Instant Messenger are in this article: How do I uninstall Windows
Messenger?, while disabling auto-start and auto-login are in this article:
How do I stop MSN Messenger from starting automatically and logging me
Computers are picky beasts, as you probably realize. Unfortunately that also
means that terminology matters in order to get the most accurate assistance