Revamped web-based email service Outlook.com will be replacing Hotmail.com., which is being phased out, Microsoft announced on Tuesday.
Since its launch last July, 60 million active users are already using Outlook, which the software giant hopes will better compete with other major free email services, such as Google's Gmail
, Apple's iCloud and Yahoo Mail.
Existing Hotmail, Live or MSN email accounts will remain functional, but users will be encouraged to upgrade their accounts to Outlook, where they will be able to use the same address according to Microsoft.
"It's a pretty massive bet we've made that Outlook.com is a great choice," said Microsoft's director of product management Dharmesh Mehta, adding that by this summer he expects hundreds of millions of Hotmail users to officially make the switch from Hotmail to Outlook.
Accompanying the announcement, Microsoft will be launching a massive ad campaign in print, television and online. The campaign will largely promote Outlook's social network integration which gives users greater access to programs such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn through their email.
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.
Acquired by Microsoft in 1998, Hotmail was one of the leading email services to pioneer free email, paid for by advertising. In recent years, however, Hotmail has fallen behind other free email providers, with about 350 million users compared with Google's Gmail which has an estimated 425 million users.
One noticeable difference between Outlook and Gmail touted by Microsoft is that unlike Google, Outlook will not display ads that are related to the content of emails. A common complaint from Gmail users is Google's monitoring of email content to be used for commercial purposes.
"With Outlook.com, the content of the private messages won’t be used to direct advertising," stated Microsoft on a user’s guide for the new service reports Dow Jones Newswires. "Not all the email servers share this vision, but we think that advertising matters."
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