Free, Web-based mail

Windows Live Hotmail is a free Web-based e-mail client for anyone comfortable in that OS.

Windows Live Hotmail is the latest iteration of Microsoft's free, Web-based e-mail service. The multipane interface lets you drag and drop messages into folders, or right-click messages for a menu of options. There's also a "Today" tab of news, both international and social, that loads when you sign in. Windows Live Hotmail even lets you choose a color theme in case you feel like customizing it to match your tastes.

Microsoft has also rolled out some useful features like instant spell-check, a built-in audio player, an RSS feed reader, and previews for Office documents and PDFs. Its latest version includes 5GB of storage, better calendar sharing, and address book management.

While it's neither the slickest nor the most exciting Web-based e-mail service, Windows Live Hotmail does carry over the classic Microsoft look. For those who are used to booting up Outlook on their Windows machines, Live Hotmail provides an easy transition, offering a view mode and usage model in line with the downloadable client.

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