A man checks his Hotmail e-mail account at a cyber cafe in Singapore, 21 September 2000.
A man checks his Hotmail e-mail account at a cyber cafe in Singapore, 21 September 2000. - 
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Jeremy Hobson: If you've still got a Hotmail account -- and there are still millions of you out there -- take note. As of today, Microsoft is phasing out its free email brand. The company is renaming the service Outlook.com and adding features to better compete with Yahoo and Gmail.

Marketplace's Amy Scott reports.


Amy Scott: Hotmail is still the largest provider of online email, with more than 300 million users. But in the coolness department, it's maybe a step up from AOL.

Phil Karcher: I think a rebranding was in order.

That's analyst Phil Karcher with Forrester Research.

The new name, Outlook, is familiar to users of Microsoft's Office suite of software.

Karcher: It's a different name to go with a more streamlined user experience, it has social integration with Twitter and Facebook. It's a very different experience from the original Hotmail.

Karcher says the move is also meant to head off Google's recent inroads into the corporate email market. And unlike Google's Gmail, the new Outlook won't tailor its advertising based on the content of your messages -- just the subject lines. Hotmail users will be switched over to Outlook.com in the next few months… and they'll get to keep their usernames.

I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.

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Follow Amy Scott at @amyreports