I have been using Hotmail (a.k.a Microsoft ‘Live’ and ‘Outlook.com’) as personal email account for several years. I also have a personal Gmail account. I like both but have preferred Hotmail over Gmail. Anyway, I have been seeing improvements in Hotmail over the years but none of these were as appealing as the new layout which makes the experience fluid like what you’d see in a desktop Outlook application. There is still the sidebar for ads but no more launching new browser windows to get into your Contacts or Calendar.
Try the new Hotmail–it is very nice! And free, as always.