Microsoft's Outlook.com comes out of preview phase

Hotmail users will be upgraded to the new email service by summer

Microsoft has moved its email service Outlook.com out of the preview phase, and plans a marketing campaign to boost its adoption worldwide.

The service, which claims 60 million active users since the preview was released last July, will soon start to upgrade Hotmail users to the new service, David Law, director of product management at Outlook.com, wrote in a blog post on Monday.

At launch of the preview, Microsoft said Outlook.com would eventually replace Hotmail. The migration of Hotmail users, which will be completed by summer, will be seamless, and users' @hotmail.com email address, password, messages, folders, contacts, rules, vacation replies, and other features will stay the same, with no disruption in service, Law wrote. He did not specify a date when the transition would be complete. Users won't have to switch to an @outlook.com address if they prefer not to, he added.

Microsoft is also launching a large-scale marketing campaign to promote the service worldwide, stating that it is confident that Outlook.com is ready to scale to a billion people.

"A number of people have expressed appreciation that Outlook.com replaces advertising with the latest updates from Facebook or Twitter when they're reading email from one of their contacts," Law wrote. On an average, people saw 60 percent fewer ads when using Outlook.com because they now get much more relevant updates from their friends, he added.

Microsoft launched recently a campaign against Gmail in the U.S., targeting Google's alleged practice of going through the contents of all Gmail messages to sell and target advertisements. The "Don't Get Scroogled by Gmail" campaign on Microsoft's Scroogled.com promotes Outlook.com as an alternative to Gmail. Microsoft asked users to sign a petition to stop Google from going through personal email to sell ads.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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