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Microsoft is in the process of removing Hotmail's web-based email and replacing it with Outlook.com. Outlook is the name of the Microsoft email application that is part of the Microsoft Office suite that is widely used in large businesses and millions of consumers.
This move is part of the company's ongoing transformation from a desktop software company to a cloud-based service company. In the latest version of Office 2013, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has repeatedly reiterated the upcoming version of Microsoft Office as a "service" as much as a software application.
Outlook.com will compete directly with Google's Gmail, and as Gmail will have contextual advertising. But unlike Gmail that the ads will be based on what it contains is the subject line, rather than the text of the message.
While Outlook and Hotmail will co-exist, Microsoft plans to replace Hotmail. Currently, Hotmail users can log in to Outlook.com or users can set up a new Outlook account.
I tested Outlook.com on the Windows and MacBook Air desktops, and on both devices, what I found was a clean, modern interface without the clutter and ease of navigation. Of course, this service will also be available on smartphones and tablets. Like the most recent version of Hotmail, Outlook.com always creates a "Quick View" to automatically categorize messages into categories. Email with attachments, for example, goes into quick document viewing while messages with images come into view.
When you hover over an email message, you'll see small icons to mark messages as read, delete them, or, my favorites, keep the mail at the top of your inbox. You can use the last command on multiple messages to ensure they pay attention to them the next time you log in.
Social networking features
Just like Google has integrated Gmail with Google +, Microsoft is integrating Outlook.com with Facebook (Microsoft has a minority stake in Facebook). You can use it for live chat with your Facebook friends. The company also has links to Twitter, LinkedIn, Google and Skype.
Bye-Bye Hotmail
Microsoft will not kill Hotmail immediately but it will terminate it over time. Hotmail was introduced in 1996 and was acquired by Microsoft in late 1997. As a pioneer in webmail, Hotmail has a history of robotics and although the company has improved a lot of filters Spam it has once been considered a spam magnet for users and for others who regularly receive spam appearing from Hotmail.com. Microsoft has upgraded Hotmail at different times of the year and it has been a pretty good service for the past few years. In 2010, I temporarily switched from Gmail to Hotmail, although I'm currently using Gmail as my primary email service.