Hotmail will eventually become Windows Live Mail, but whether it can ever become as good as Gmail remains to be seen.

For starters, online storage is only 2GB, the search function doesn't extend to attachments, there's no forwarding and POP message collection and the advertising is highly intrusive. This is countered by well implemented anti-spam filtering that makes it simple to report and block off enders and allow others, while warning you of potential phishing threats.

Service integration is good, with contact, calendaring and IM provided, and if you like adding backgrounds and smilies to your HTML mail, you'll find plenty of options to do so here. We loved the context-sensitive right-click menus making common functions just a mouse-click away, but we didn't much like the fact that the Microsoft Office-alike spellcheck only works in IE and not Firefox. Davey Winder