Changes to Hotmail, Live, and MSN are coming
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.
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.
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.
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.
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