By Ian Bush

REDMOND, Wash. (CBS) — It’s the world’s most popular e-mail service, but Microsoft thinks Hotmail can do better.

The Redmond, Wash. software giant, which owns the service, is making big changes to the portal.  Microsoft is rolling out a free, web-based e-mail named for its “Outlook” brand.

Hotmail users or those with Windows Live accounts can keep their existing address, but they and new users can sign up for a new e-mail address.   And if you act soon, you might even be able to snag your own name.

The new Outlook fits well with the clean, functional design of Windows 8.  The “quick views” feature lets you look at attached documents or photos from Flickr or other online galleries.

Package tracking is integrated, as are Facebook and Twitter updates of the person with whom you’re corresponding — all without leaving the web site.

Microsoft says Hotmail likely will be phased out in the next year — but again, you can keep your exisiting e-mail address.

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