I just saw some article entitled Ten Worst Internet Acquisitions Ever which contains the following excerpt

10. Hotmail - acquired by Microsoft (MSFT) in 1998 for about $400 million. Hotmail was a second-tier free email service when Microsoft bought it and the acquisition did little to improve Microsoft's internet portal ambitions.

This looks like another example of journalists bloggers fail to do even a modicum of research. Since I'm being lazy, I'll just use the Alexa traffic details for MSN to debunk this silliness.  According to Alexa, MSN is the #2 site on the internet with over 84% of the traffic being to hotmail.msn.com.

It seems to me that Hotmail has contributed a lot in furthering Microsoft's internet portal ambitions. Then again, don't let the facts get in your way of thowing snarky comments at Microsoft. ;)