Microsoft Preps Hotmail Upgrade

This week, Microsoft revealed sweeping MSN Hotmail improvements that the company plans to roll out this summer. Hotmail will gain massive new storage allotments that better position the service against competition from Google Gmail and Yahoo! Mail.
  
The Hotmail changes are impressive, especially when you consider that they'll affect more than 170 million Hotmail users. Starting sometime this summer, all Hotmail customers--both free and paid--will receive free email antivirus-scanning capabilities. Nonpaid Hotmail customers' email storage space will grow to 250MB, whereas Microsoft will begin offering a Hotmail Plus service for $19.95 a year that provides a whopping 2GB of email storage. Previously, the free Hotmail service provided just 10MB of email storage, although customers could pay $29.95 a year for 25MB of email storage.
  
In addition, the email-attachment sizes Hotmail allows is increasing. For the free service, Microsoft will let customers send attachments as large as 10MB. Paid subscribers will be able to send 20MB attachments. Both Hotmail and Hotmail Plus subscribers will also get free access to MSN Calendar, which lets customers share calendars only with other subscribers. Hotmail Plus subscribers will receive additional benefits, such as no advertising and no account expiration.
  
Microsoft says that it will automatically upgrade customers who purchased Hotmail Extra Storage to Hotmail Plus. In addition, the company will upgrade storage limits for MSN Premium customers to the Hotmail Plus storage limits.
  
Although Microsoft is basically taking storage out of the equation to counter Gmail's 1GB of email storage space, Microsoft representatives say that the big Hotmail news is its free antivirus feature. "We know from talking with our customers that online safety is their number-one concern," Blake Irving, corporate vice president of the MSN Communication Services and Member Platform Group, said. "MSN is intensely focused on providing a safer and more robust communication experience for consumers. Providing free antivirus cleaning helps protect our Hotmail customers while guarding members of the overall Hotmail community and the friends and family they email." Microsoft currently blocks nearly 3 billion spam messages every day.

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