Microsoft Officially Buries Hotmail, Hits 60M Users

19 February 2013, 11:33 am EST By Alexandra Burlacu Mobile & Apps

Microsoft announced on Tuesday, Feb. 19, that its browser-based email service moved out of the preview stage and hit global availability.

Microsoft first introduced last July. The browser-based service marks Microsoft's boldest move since Google launched its Gmail service back in 2004. is Microsoft's answer to Google's Gmail, and the service's interface, SkyDrive integration, and promise of massive storage make the rivalry quite obvious. Still, does sport a more distinct identity with its People Hub, as well as its look and feel.

The official launch of marks the demise of its predecessor, Hotmail. Microsoft acquired Hotmail back in 1997, but the product has reached its final destination. The Hotmail name will not disappear entirely, but is now Microsoft's sole free consumer email offering.

The software giant says it will shift users to the new service "soon," but will not force them to change their emails to an "" address. According to the company, all users should switch to by this summer.

"Today is a major milestone in our mission to provide people everywhere with the world's best email experience," Microsoft's David Law boasts in a blog post. "You'll also see us kick off a large-scale marketing effort around the word to show that can get you going. And because we're confident that is the best email service available for consumers and ready to scale to a billion people, we'll soon start to upgrade hundreds of millions of Hotmail users to the new experience."

"Everything from their email address, password, messages, folders, contacts, rules, vacation replies, etc. will stay the same, with no disruption in service."

The software giant also reveals that more than 60 million people are already actively using Microsoft kicked off its global marketing campaign for the launch, showcasing Outlook's features in two ads. Microsoft also kicked off a campaign recently to bash Gmail's invasion of privacy and propose Outlook as a better alternative.

On the other hand, branding will likely be a problem. Because it bears the name "Outlook," many users will likely assume that the service is some kind of Web client for managing any email account. Instead, is a free service similar to Gmail or Yahoo mail, providing users with an email account. This means that users cannot create an account and add their corporate email to it, for instance.

Judging by Microsoft's explanatory ads, the company seems to be aware of this potential issue. Check out Microsoft's blog post for more details, and watch the video below to get a glimpse of the new

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