REDMOND, Wash. (CNN) – Microsoft introduced a preview version of a fresh and inventive webmail service it called Outlook.com last August, it was pretty clear that it was telling the world that it intended to start winding down its venerable Hotmail sooner or later.
Now it’s official.
The company is announcing that Outlook.com is coming out of preview mode and is now officially available worldwide. And so it’s going to start moving more than 300 million Hotmail users over. They’ll be able to keep their Hotmail.com e-mail addresses — or Live.com or MSN.com, if that’s what they’ve got — but the Hotmail service and brand will be going away.
The transition will be gradual: At first, the Hotmail faithful will get e-mails and other alerts telling them about the switchover. They’ll be able to make the jump immediately, or postpone it. But by the end of the summer, the company intends to have moved all Hotmail users over to Outlook.com.