Microsoft has launched an assault on Google's Gmail, boosting the free storage capacity of its Windows Live Hotmail service to 5GB. This update puts Windows Live Hotmail well ahead of Gmail (which currently stands at around 2.8GB) in the online email storage race.

The arrival of Gmail in 2004 revolutionised the concept of webmail. The impact of its then-massive 1GB of free storage on competitors like Hotmail and Yahoo was immediate, forcing them to rethink their business plans completely.

Since then, however, email storage has come a long way - Yahoo has been offering free unlimited storage to account holders for some time now. Gmail itself has increased its storage almost three-fold.

Other notable new features rolled out in the Hotmail update include Contacts De-duplication, spam improvements and support for Hebrew and Arabic.

Best of all - and to show they've been listening, the Hotmail team point out in their blog - you now have the option to see your inbox immediately when you've logged in. So no more annoying MSN news page then, hooray.