Hotmail, once among the leaders of free email services, is officially dead now that Microsoft has completed its migration to Outlook.
As of Thursday, every Hotmail account has been upgraded to Outlook, the newer, redesigned email system that was launched last summer and debuted in February.
"Today, we're excited to announce that we've completed upgrading all Hotmail customers to Outlook.com," Dick Craddock, group program manager for Outlook.com, posted on the company's website Thursday. "Coupled with the growing organic excitement for Outlook.com, this has pushed us to over 400 million active Outlook.com accounts, including 125 million that are accessing email, calendar, and contacts on a mobile device using Exchange ActiveSync."
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Users' Hotmail accounts will stay the same — people can continue emailing you at [your address]@hotmail.com — but the interface and experience no longer have anything to do with the Hotmail name.
Along with the migration to Outlook, Microsoft has upgraded to allow users to send emails on behalf of other email addresses, a feature that makes Gmail so attractive.
The new email service also will be able to filter out less important messages to a greater extent, separating direct marketing emails and electronic newsletters from emails sent from friends. In addition to filtering out spam, Outlook will feature a second folder for such less important emails.
The company has also added deeper integration with SkyDrive, its cloud filing system, which will allow users to add photos or files to emails from SkyDrive directly to Outlook.com.
Users are already noticing the difference in the design of their email service. Outlook offers a more modern and tidier interface.
"I should whisper this, but I think the new Outlook format is loads better than Gmail
," user Charlie Almond posted on Fast Company.
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Hotmail first launched in 1996 as HoTMaiL. Microsoft acquired the company a year later for nearly $400 million. It was then rebranded as MSN Hotmail. It was a rival of AOL and Yahoo, but all were eventually outpaced by Gmail.
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