If you've been keeping track of Hotmail's evolution at its Live Beta site or been a participant yourself you'll know exactly what you can expect from the official launch of Microsoft's new 'Live Hotmail' service, if you don't then you'll be in for something of a shock.
Bringing the biggest improvements to Hotmail since its launch in 1996, 'Windows Live Hotmail' finally provides users with a viable alternative to Google Mail and Yahoo! Mail.
For a start, the look has been completely overhauled so that it now has a strong resemblance to Outlook with a folder list down the left side and message previews available down the right (this can be modified if you wish). Significantly, users can also now right click on mail to bring up context menus while drag and drop functionality has been included. A dynamic spell checker along with Word-esque formatting tools makes it in too, as do photo previews and the integration of Windows Live Messenger.
In addition, storage gets a bump with Microsoft standardising a 2GB inbox – twice that of Yahoo! Mail and closing the gap with Google Mail's sub 3GB limit.
In related news, Microsoft has also pushed out 'Office Outlook Connector' in beta form which lets users access their Hotmail accounts from within Outlook 2003/2007 itself. I'm sure the irony won't be lost on many since this exact feature was controversially stripped from Outlook a few years back. Rethink 1.0?