In the late 1990's Hotmail was the largest free email service in the world, but now 16 years later, Microsoft has decided to ditch Hotmail and relaunch Outlook.
There are still some 350 million active Hotmail accounts and, according to The Guardian, even though Google's Gmail has more accounts at 425 million users, ComScore says Hotmail still gets more traffic than its rivals. In June 2012, Hotmail had 324 million monthly visitors, compared to 290 million at Yahoo mail and 278 million at Gmail.
According to CNet.com, Hotmail users are now being invited to transfer their accounts to the Outlook.com portal and keep their existing addresses. And it seems to be catching on. In the first 6 hours of offering the switch, one million users signed up. Computer World says most users will see the new interface the next time they open their Hotmail account, if not you just have to go to the Options menu and click "Upgrade to Outlook.com." You can get one of the new Outlook.com addresses just go the website and click the "sign up" button.
Hotmail's successor is promising fewer display ads and new connections to social networks like Facebook and Twitter and will eventually integrate Skype to compete with Google Talk.
Microsoft VP of Windows Live tells The Guardian, "We think the time is right to reimagine email. So today, we're introducing a preview of Outlook.com." "We realised that we needed to take a bold step, break from the past and build you a brand new service from the ground up."
According to CNet, there's no word yet if or when Microsoft will pull the plug on Hotmail.com, but it is expected to happen eventually.