Late yesterday, Microsoft launched the newest version of its Web-based Hotmail service, the world's most popular email service. In this release, the company gave Hotmail a graphical and functional overhaul that more closely resembles Microsoft Outlook 2003 and the subscription-based MSN email clients. The new Hotmail interface also integrates more closely with Microsoft's subscription offerings, including MSN and Hotmail Extra Storage.
   "Today 66 percent of the people say \[Hotmail is\] their primary consumer email \[service\] for people who have \[both\] work mail and consumer mail," said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of the MSN Personal Services & Business Division. "If you ranked \[Hotmail\] in terms of total size, it would be the ninth largest country in the world, behind Bangladesh and before Mexico, in terms of population size. Hotmail \[filters\] over 2.4 billion spam messages \[every day\]."
   So what's new in Hotmail? A streamlined interface makes organizing, reading, and sending email messages easier and gives precedence to messages from people in your Contacts list. The Junk Mail filter now lets users report Junk Mail back to Hotmail, letting the service filter those senders at the server level. The new Calendar component offers handy tasks, reminders, and notes, and you can easily share your Calendar with users in your Contacts list. The new Contacts well displays both list and card views, and you can segregate your contacts by groups or alphabetically--a dramatic improvement.
   Hotmail is a free service. The new version is currently available for all Hotmail subscribers.