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Hotmail Adds Support for Multiple Aliases

Microsoft has released an update to Windows Live Hotmail that adds the ability to have multiple email aliases, a practice that many users follow on the Web.

For instance, that would let a user have a separate email address to give out to someone he or she met at a party, or to give to companies that might may later sell the address to spammers.

"Starting today, you can create and manage multiple email aliases from a single Hotmail account," Dharmesh Mehta, director of Windows Live product management, said in a post to the Inside Windows Live blog

"The average person maintains three different email addresses in order to organize different types of email, maintain different personas or keep junk mail away from a primary email address," he said. The way to do this is to use an alias, or alternate identity -- a different email address than the user's true address.

"Email aliases let you create completely different email addresses that you can use to receive email into your primary account without anyone knowing what your primary email address is," Mehta added.

If, for example, a user gave out an alias that got incorporated into a spammer's list, it would be easy enough to simply delete that alias, giving those spam messages nowhere to go.

"There are many good reasons that people want multiple email addresses, but maintaining multiple accounts, with different user names and passwords that require you to check multiple inboxes, is inefficient," Mehta said.

Hotmail's new alias feature aims to simplify that.

The aliasing feature works with the Sweep function, which was added to Hotmail last year in order to make e-mail administration easier and faster.

Microsoft is not making the use of aliases unlimited, though -- a Hotmail user can add five aliases a year, up to a maximum total of 15.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.