logo_msHotmailVertical_web_thumb News According to a new study by Cascade Insights, as cited by an Inside Windows Live post, Microsoft’s Hotmail narrowly beat out Gmail (and they both significantly out-performed Yahoo! Mail, and an unfiltered web host account) in a test by the independent firm.

The test signed up newly created email accounts to a number of newsletters and both legitimate and  suspicious looking websites, and let the email flow in.  After a little over a month (from Nov. 14, 2011, through Dec. 20, 2011), results were tallied, and Hotmail narrowly beat out Gmail (HAM refers to legitimate emails, ie: newsletters they signed up for, etc.):

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You can check out Cascade Insights at CascadeInsights.com  and read the full report here.

The Inside Windows Live blog post reveals that their efforts to reduce spam with Hotmail, which back in 2006 ran at some 30% of all Hotmail email, have continued to make improvements, citing a further 25% since they last publicly updated the numbers in August 2011.  At that time, Microsoft claimed to have reduced “SITI”, or “spam in the inbox” from 30% to about 3%:

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The post also claims that customer complaints related to spam have dropped by 40% in the past year, that questions about managing safe and blocked sender lists have dropped to “near zero”, and that there’s still work to be done, for example around “phishing attacks”.

Are you noticing less spam in your inbox?  Do you notice better performance between webmail services if you use more than one?  The two (so far) commenters on the blog post seem happy:

This is exactly why I love my Hotmail account and hate my gmail account. I get literally hundreds of spam messages in my INBOX each week in my gmail account with over to 800 on average in my spam folder at any given time. (auto deletes after a certain period of time). I haven’t had a spam message in my Hotmail account for years!  CrazyTegger

The graymail support is a major differentiator between Hotmail and Gmail. Oddly enough, Gmail has turned into my spam bucket while Hotmail is the place where I, “do work”.  phouse

Update: We contacted Sean Campbell, co-owner of Cascade Insights, to clarify the source and commission of this study.  His reply:

Microsoft commissioned this study, however we executed the study independently of any influence from Microsoft. Our researchers had full reign over the methodology and approach.

Just so you know.