Microsoft Launches Outlook Subscription for Hotmail

Office Outlook Live lets Hotmail users tap Outlook 2003 through a yearly subscription and keeps messages, contacts and calendar items in sync.

Microsoft Corp. on Thursday is announcing a new service for MSN Hotmail users wanting to use Outlook to access and manage messages, contacts and calendar items.

Called Microsoft Office Outlook Live, the service is Microsofts first subscription offering for an Office application, the company said. For an annual subscription, users can download a special version of the Outlook 2003 e-mail client to use in conjunction with their Hotmail accounts.

The Outlook Live service also keeps e-mails, contacts and calendars in sync between the Outlook client and Hotmails servers.

"This product is targeted at our power users, those who are using Outlook at work and want the same functionality at home," said Karin Muskopf, a product manager at MSN, Microsofts Internet division.

Microsoft is primarily targeting Outlook Live to MSNs 187 million Hotmail users, including those using MSN Mail accounts and personalized e-mail accounts, Muskopf said.

But the version of Outlook 2003 provided with Outlook Live also can connect to other e-mail providers whose servers support POP3 (Post Office Protocol Version 3), an MSN spokeswoman said.

Outlook Live is Microsofts latest change in the way it is allowing MSN Hotmail users to access their accounts through Outlook. In September, it ended a program through which Hotmail users could access their messages in Outlook and Outlook Express using the WebDAV (Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning) protocol.

MSN cited spam concerns for the change, which required Hotmail users to subscribe to a premium account, such as MSN Hotmail Plus or MSN Premium, to gain Outlook access.

Muskopf said Outlook Live and the change in WebDAV support were two separate projects. Outlook Live actually provides a license to the so-called Outlook 2003 for Subscription Services, while the former WebDAV support tied into a users existing Outlook or Outlook Express client.

Testing of Outlook Live began in December, when details of the service were first reported.

The Microsoft Office and the MSN product teams worked together in developing Outlook Live, Muskopf said.

Outlook Live will be offered for $59.95 a year and will be made available in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. It requires Windows 2000 with Service Pack 3 or Windows XP.

With the subscription, users receive 2 GB of online storage, spam and virus protection, and the ability to send attachments as large as 20 MB, according to Microsoft.


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