Hotmail is finally ready to be killed off in favour of Microsoft's new-look Outlook.com webmail service, with Outlook leaving its "preview" period ready for Hotmail users to migrate to.
It should be a painless process for existing Hotmail users, who will have their mail archives transferred to the new service automatically, and will retain the same log-in information and @hotmail.com email address they currently use. They will however benefit from an improved user interface, with the migration expected to be completed by the summer.
Microsoft bought Hotmail in 1997 for around $400 million dollars from its founders Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith, and for a long time was the go-to webmail service until Google launched the superior Gmail.
Microsoft look to combat the popularity of Gmail with Outlook.com, which through beta testing alone has already become the fastest growing email service, wracking up 60 million active users.
It's a big year for Microsoft's communications products. Not only will there be the transition from Hotmail to Outlook.com, but the Messenger service is also getting the chop in favour of Skype. It's a process of unification for Microsoft, which will see Windows Phone, Windows, Xbox, Outlook.com, Office, Skype and SkyDrive users log-in to each service through a single account. Microsoft are taking the fight to Google and their one account method for accessing web products.
We doubt there will be many tears shed for Hotmail however. It's been looking a little long in the tooth for some time now, and Outlook.com has made some significant, intuitive changes to Microsoft's webmail that many will quickly embrace.