Late in July, Microsoft unveiled Outlook.com, a new Webmail service designed to take the place of the aging Hotmail.
For anyone still using the old service (and as of July of last year, some 360 million users were signing into their accounts every month), this undoubtedly raises some questions -- not the least of which is, "What's going to happen to my old account?"
As of right now, you can still sign into your Microsoft Hotmail, MSN, and Windows Live accounts. Eventually, however, Microsoft will shut them down -- all the more reason to make the move to Outlook.com right now.
You'll be glad you did. Although it lacks some of the more advanced features of, say, Gmail, Outlook.com offers a pretty, clutter-free interface and some great mail-organization tools. (Proof positive: "Five Ways Outlook.com Beats Gmail -- and One Way it Doesn't.")
The process couldn't be much simpler. Just head to Outlook.com and sign in using your existing Hotmail, MSN, or Live credentials. Immediately you'll see a notification that your account has been upgraded; click Continue to inbox to proceed to your new Webmail home.
As you'll see, all your messages, folders, contacts, and other data get funneled into Outlook.com -- even your signatures and mail settings.
What's more, despite the "Outlook.com" domain, your email address remains the same. However, if you decide you want to get an @outlook.com address, you have two choices: You can rename your account or set up an alias.
Microsoft explains how to do both in this post on upgrading to Outlook.com, so I won't rehash the steps here. If you're still conducting business with the old address, you'll probably want to go the alias route so you can continue to send mail from that old address (though you'll have the option of sending from your new one as well).
Ultimately, it's quite painless to make the move -- so why wait?