Software

Screenshots: Manually update to Outlook.com before Microsoft does it for you

Changes to Hotmail, Live, and MSN are coming

This how-to gallery is also available as a post in the TechRepublic Windows and Office Blog.

If you are a Hotmail.com user, then you have probably heard that Microsoft will be closing the doors on Hotmail.com and moving all of its users over to the new Outlook.com sometime this summer. (Microsoft hasn't set a specific date.) Currently, you can make the switch on your own, but if you choose not do so between now and this summer, Microsoft has said that they will be automatically moving all remaining Hotmail.com users to Outlook.com.

Now I don't know about you, but I hate to have things automatically changed for me. I would rather do it myself. If you are like me and would rather make the move from Hotmail.com to Outlook.com yourself, you need to know that there are two ways that you can make the move. You can upgrade your existing account to Outlook.com or you can start fresh and create a new Outlook.com. The method that you use will depend on how attached you are to your Hotmail.com account.

I'll show you how to move from Hotmail.com to Outlook.com using both of these methods. As I do, I'll tell you what you need to know as you plan for, undertake, and move into an Outlook.com account.

Keep in mind that while the main focus of this transition is Hotmail.com, if you have a Live.com or even an MSN.com e-mail address, this change is for you as well. These accounts have become more significant since many available features in Windows 8 and Office 2013 require a Microsoft email account.

Overview

Before we get started, let's take a few moments to look a bit more closely at what it means to use one of the two methods. To begin with, it's important to understand that once you have selected and proceed with a method, you will not be able to change your mind and easily switch to the other method.

Upgrading

If you have a longstanding relationship with Hotmail.com and your @hotmail.com email address is associated to a lot of external accounts or services, such as SkyDrive or Windows 8, then you will want to upgrade your Hotmail.com account to Outlook.com. When you do, everything associated with your account will come with you.

This means that all your existing messages, your contacts, and your settings will be migrated from your existing account to your new one. And, you'll be able to keep your same email address and password. (In fact, Microsoft says that you can keep your @hotmail.com forever - even though Hotmail.com as an entity will cease to exist in the near future.) Everything will continue to work as it currently does, you'll just have the new user interface that is in Outlook.com.

Now, it may take a little while to get acquainted some of the new features, but you shouldn't really experience any problems creating, sending, and receiving email messages. Email addressed to you at your @hotmail.com address will arrive in your Outlook.com inbox and email sent from your Outlook.com account will still show your return address as @hotmail.com.

If after you upgrade, you decide that you want to have an @outlook.com email address, you can do so easily by setting up an alias. Once you set up an alias set up, email that you send will be from an @outlook.com email address and email addressed to you at your @outlook.com address will arrive in your Outlook.com inbox. And, you can still send and receive email using your @hotmail.com address.

Starting fresh

If you rarely use your Hotmail.com account, you don't have it associated any external accounts or services, and it has just become a spam magnet that you want to do away with, then you will probably want to make a clean start at Outlook.com. When you do so, nothing will be migrated from your existing account. You will end up with a brand new account and you can just let your old Hotmail account fade away - after a period of complete inactivity, Microsoft will close the account.

However, if after you start fresh, you decide that you would still like to have access to your Hotmail.com account, you have the option of linking your new and old accounts together. When you do so, you can switch back and forth between them if and when you need. Keep in mind that linking your accounts together doesn't really combine them - you will have two separate accounts.

Now that you have a basic idea at how each method works, let take a closer look at the details.

Upgrading

At some point in time, you will log into your Hotmail.com account and see the message shown in Figure A. If at that point you are ready to perform the upgrade, just click the Upgrade to Outlook button. If you click the Maybe later button, you may not see this prompt again for a while.

If you are like most cautious folks out there, chances are that you clicked the Maybe later button. However, if you now want to upgrade your Hotmail.com account to Outlook.com, you can do so quite easily. 

Credit: Images by Greg Shultz for TechRepublic

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

11 comments
prontocesped
prontocesped

I hate the new version of hotmail.. it doesnt have the same features..u dont have teh delete button underneath, inserting contacts on the to or bcc takesa ges.. sometimes u dont know how but it duplicates the contact, u move out and automatically keeps suggesting the contacts u more often use.. this is to sart with..u ..Yahoo changed its look in am uch smarter way..keeping the infrastrucutre of using it the same way but changing colours etc... Hotmail used to be the best web email.. not is apain in the neck--if I hadnt so many websites and who knows how many sites I have given the hotmail as my basic email..I would start using only the yahoo email. Hope more people agree with me..and we can have the previous version ..call it outlook but what they did witht he to/cc/bcc box is a nightmare.

PeterM42
PeterM42

....foisting CRAP on their customers. Well, I hope it rebounds on them like Windows 8 has.

majorhl
majorhl

My hotmail account was a reserve account and checked every 2-3 months, but something I want to retain. Received the link to this article today, 7 Apr 13, and when I went to my hotmail account found it was already migrated. thanks. now I'll spend the time to see what moved and what was lost.

xangpow
xangpow

Say what you want but if you choose to "upgrade" aren't you really just giving in, throwing in the towel, just giving up without a fight? I have had my Hotmail account since before Hotmail was bought out by Microsoft so I am not giving that up so easily. I only hope I am the last one they switch over. HOTMAIL FOR EVER!

inertman
inertman

having a Hotmail, live and msn account, I tried outlook.com on 1, didn't like it, but somehow it reverted anyway about 3 weeks ago. however, my msn and live account lasted all the way till 4/2, guess they didn't want me to think it was a 4/1 prank. it's not really a bog deal except for 2 things I really dislike. 1) when you delete anything from the inbox, or any box as far as I can see, the list is reformed w/ the next message at the bottom of the list, rather than where it was when you hit delete. kinda makes scanning your inbox an extra effort, tho still not a huge deal. 2) while the 'sweep' button defaults to the radio menu when pressed, the 'not junk' button does not. meaning if you accidentally hit it instead of sweep. rather than a drop down to select from it's choices, the selected email automatically is marked as safe. nothing else I've found is terrible and the interface is pleasant enough so even my tablet works well enough with it.

druid627
druid627

They swapped my account two weeks ago, after months of them nagging me to do so. I gave them feedback, but they never listened.Seeing 90% of the features that they are hot on, I have no use for, it made no sense for me to move it to the outlook.com. Now that it is done, I still have no use for all the social nitwitting addons, and the Win8 integrated look makes me think they believe everyone is a three year old on crack. I forward my mail to a different mail program, and thank GOD I don't have to look at that crappy monochrome worthless interface again.

Kenogami
Kenogami

Where have you been? Microsoft has already done this. I can no longer get into my hotmail account. They already changed it, for the last 3 weeks. I can do a roundabout to get it. but why bother? When I click on the icon in IE it goes to my Windows Live mail, Why? Can't Microsoft get their act together? Don't bother answering, we all know the answer. Microsoft can't get their act together. Left hand versus right hand. No brains inbetween. Randy

JCitizen
JCitizen

Hotmail forced us into this mode weeks ago! I would never have done it manually - but I'll get used to it I suppose. I do like the emoticons, and the automatic tagging of replies to messages in my inbox. That is about all I can say about it right now. Microsoft web mail went from plain to plainer. Not sure that matters to me though - I'm strictly business when it comes to email anyway.

lars
lars

It's a shame that it looks so bloody awful. And doesn't seem to work properly. Apparently telling it that something isn't spam is too hard for it to understand... On the desktop I went back to Outlook 2010 after using Outlook 2013 for a month and a bit. If I used Hotmail for anything other than a spam magnet and for registering at companies I don't trust, this would make me migrate somewhere else.

eaglewolf
eaglewolf

You have NO choice. My Hotmail accounts switched without my doing a thing despite weeks of ignoring the 'Upgrade now!! You're going to totally love it!!' It happened one night/morning .. I figure around 2 a.m. when I was asleep and couldn't defend myself. Next morning, I un-hibernated my laptop, tried to retrieve new mail, and was told, "sorry, you need to restart the program. It's been screwed up .. I mean 'updated.'" No choice - no options - no delay. I've had my Hotmail account since M$ bought it and it was safe to mention you had one. I am not happy. And what do they offer for my old W98 desktop? A totally useless mobile version .. for a desktop .. incomplete at best. You don't like it? You're directed to the 'community forum,' which contains a multitude of drones who work off of sheets of boilerplate responses. None answers your questions - they don't know the answer. Look for a keyword, copy/paste the boilerplate that matches those keywords, and move on. You see the exact same responses all over the forum .. and people are rightfully outraged. It's typical Microsoft - what you could do in one click now takes three or four. Thing are in illogical places or missing altogether. Data, if it's not now amongst the missing, is in some mystical place that you might find if you have an hour or two out of your workday to find it. Btw, the latest antic I saw on the 'community forum' was to tell people how much Microsoft REALLY appreciated your posting, but please go to the 'Feedback' page and post there. Oh. You go there and the first thing it says is you're not going to get an answer to your question, but Microsoft will, for sure, take it into consideration for the product. In other words: go to hell and stop bothering us.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I have two Gmail accounts, one Yahoo!, and two Hotmail, and as far as I can tell Hotmail has less spam than any of them! In fact I've purposely given out my Hotmail email address, and yes I got spammed temporarily, but I marked all junk mail, and within a few days or a couple of weeks, everything was back to normal.