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Outlook.com gets a million sign-ups in first six hours

Microsoft has announced that over a million people had registered with the new Outlook.com email service six hours after it went live.

“One million people have signed up for a new, modern email experience [at Outlook.com],” the firm said Tuesday afternoon.

Microsoft launched a preview of the consumer online email service around 9 a.m. PT yesterday.

The 1 million represents 0.3% of the 324 million who used Hotmail in June, according to Web measurement firm comScore. While some of the former number may have been new to Microsoft’s email, the bulk were likely already in the Redmond, Wash. company’s fold.

Microsoft may have aimed Outlook.com at its rival Google, which has an estimated 277 active million users of its Gmail service, but the service is essentially a major refresh of Hotmail, which will be retired at some point.

Microsoft acquired Hotmail in 1997, a year after its debut, for a reported $400 million, but has been unable to shake its reputation as a spam-ridden, entry-level service. While Microsoft has made significant strides in beating back spam, and introduced numerous advanced features, the brand was tainted, some analysts have said.

Although Outlook.com is opt-in during the preview that kicked off Tuesday, eventually all current Hotmail users will be forced to the new user interface (UI). However, those people will be able to retain their hotmail.com addresses indefinitely, as will users with live.com and msn.com accounts.

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