Windows Live Hotmail has finally made it out of beta.
Microsoft has announced that Windows Live Hotmail, the successor to MSN Hotmail, has launched globally in 36 languages.
This is the first major update to the service, which was once the only name in web-based email, since its launch in 1996. It marks another step towards what appears to be Microsoft's move away from the MSN brand and into the Windows Live family.
The software giant claims that the new service is safer, more powerful and more productive than its previous versions. The amount of storage available for email will be standardised and will start at 2GB. However, Microsoft says that it will continue to grow its storage capacity to meet customer needs.
Customers will also be able to access their Windows Live Hotmail contacts and email for free via Outlook 2003 or 2007 using the new Office Outlook Connector beta, which is set to launch later this month in 11 different languages. Microsoft also promises to launch a beta of Windows Live Mail later this month too -- a free downloadable consumer orientated email client designed to work with Live Hotmail. This will replace Outlook Express on Windows XP and Windows Mail on Vista.
Windows Live Messenger is also integrated into the new webmail service too, allowing users to see if their contacts are online along with being able to start conversations from their web browser.
Microsoft claims that there are over 280 million active Hotmail accounts, but with arguably better alternatives like Gmail and Yahoo! Mail, is Hotmail still hip? Let us know your thoughts in the forums