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Microsoft introduces

Microsoft has taken the wraps off its new webmail service,

Microsoft has taken the wraps off its new webmail service,

(Credit: Microsoft)

And it's not just for email, either. The new service has been designed from the ground up, pulling features from Exchange and Hotmail, and clearly taking influence from other webmail services, such as Gmail.

As announced on the Microsoft Office Blog, the new will be open to everyone for free, and plans to do everything but the dishes.

The new, cleaner interface of (Credit: Microsoft)

Those who use Hotmail will already be familiar with some of the things will be able to do:

  • View previews of attached images

  • Access free Office Web Apps of Word, PowerPoint and Excel

  • SkyDrive support, so that you can put attached files in the cloud and stop worrying about attachment size limits

  • "Virtually unlimited" storage

  • No content scanning (a la Gmail), so targeted ads won't be shown

  • Connection with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google and Skype, so you can do all your networking from the one interface

  • 7GB of free cloud storage.

It will also be available to use on Windows devices, such as tablets, mobile phones and any other phones that support Exchange ActiveSync.

The idea seems to be to gradually urge users away from Hotmail and into

Says the blog post:

While today's preview is just the start, is ready now to become your primary email service. We're expecting millions of people to try it out. Starting today, you can get an email address, and we've also made it easy to get started with your current email address if you want to.

If you have a Microsoft Live or Hotmail account, you can check out the preview now by visiting