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Microsoft's Hotmail To Be Killed By Early Summer, Replaced By Outlook

Still got a Hotmail address? You'll be pleasantly surprised in a few months.

Microsoft is finally taking Hotmail off the life-support machine it's been wheezing away on for so long. The reason? After six months, the software giant's Outlook has been such a howling success—60 million users in six months according to my former colleague, NBC's Wilson Rothman—that the decision was not a hard one to make. The original email system of the masses until it was usurped by an email service that actually worked (take a bow, Gmail) Hotmail has been limping along for years. But not any more. Microsoft is to start auto-updating its users' Hotmail accounts—all 350 million of them—to the Outlook system, and the firm expects the migration to be completed by early Summer.

Outlook's myriad little touches, such as its sweep-up facility, which washes spam clean away and its highly sociable character have made it a popular alternative on the free mail front. Microsoft is hoping it will blow a hole in Gmail's current market dominance, and so is upping its profile with a social-centric ad campaign, which you can see right here.

If you can't wait to update your Hotmail account, it's easy to do, says Rothman, just click on the Settings button and then Convert to Outlook.

Any Gmail users tempted to switch to Outlook now? Or do Google's tools outweigh Microsoft's social ways?