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Microsoft's New Hotmail Goes Live

The latest version of Microsoft Corp.'s free Web-based e-mail is now widely available to the public in 36 languages.

Windows Live Hotmail, which officially became available Monday, sports a new look and features similar to Microsoft's desktop-based Outlook e-mail program, including the ability to drag and drop messages into folders. Microsoft also said it improved the spam and fraud protection features in the online e-mail service.

Microsoft said more than 280 million people worldwide use the old MSN Hotmail service. The company has rebranded a mishmash of Web sites and programs using the "Live" name, but kept the Hotmail brand in this case to avoid confusing existing users, Microsoft said in a February blog post.

The makeover, which includes 2 gigabytes of data storage and built-in instant messaging, brings Live Hotmail in line with offerings from competitors Yahoo Inc., Time Warner Inc.'s AOL and Google Inc. In the U.S., about 81 million people used Yahoo's e-mail service in April, while nearly 47.5 million used Hotmail or a test version of Windows Live Mail, according to comScore Media Metrix.

The research company said nearly 47.2 million people used AOL during the same period, while Google's Gmail had about 14 million users.

Microsoft also said a mobile version of Live Hotmail is available.

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