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Outlook.com: Can ditching Hotmail help fend off Gmail and Yahoo?

Microsoft announces a new email client, Outlook.com. One million people sign up in the first six hours.

By Salvador RodriguezLos Angeles Times / August 1, 2012

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer speaks at a Microsoft event in San Francisco, Monday, July 16, 2012. Microsoft unveiled a new version of its widely used, lucrative suite of word processing, spreadsheet and email programs Monday, one designed specifically with tablet computers and Internet-based storage in mind.

Jeff Chiu/AP

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LOS ANGELES

Microsoft introduced a new email client Tuesday called Outlook.com, a personal version of its already widely used brand.

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Outlook.com is Microsoft’s latest stab at an email service and essentially replaces Hotmail as the company’s primary email service.

“We realized that we needed to take a bold step, break from the past and build you a brand new service from the ground up,” Microsoft said in a post. “Now, in addition to a desktop application and a service for businesses, we’re offering Outlook as a personal email service — Outlook.com.”

Microsoft said Outlook.com is a “modern email designed for the next billion mailboxes.”

Outlook.com will let users sync their accounts with various social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, as well as Skype eventually.

“In the Outlook.com inbox, your personal email comes alive with photos of your friends, recent status updates and tweets that your friend has shared with you, the ability to chat and video call,” Microsoft said.

The cloud-based new service will sync users’ email, contacts and calendar across various devices. Outlook.com also includes free Office Web Apps, so users can open and edit attachments from their inboxes. The Redmond, Wash., company is also addressing the issue of cluttered in-boxes by sorting messages depending on who they’re from.

The service is free and Microsoft says it has “virtually unlimited storage.”

Hotmail users can easily launch the new client by going into their options menu and clicking “Upgrade,” according to Microsoft. They can also acquire a new “@outlook.com” email address if they wish.

Users of other email clients, including Gmail and Yahoo, can also use Outlook.com to manage their emails.Microsoft says those users can also add an “@outlook.com” email if they’d like.

“This will let you use both services for now, but we think that over time, most people will prefer Outlook.com,” the company said.

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