Microsoft is to rename its Hotmail service Outlook as part of an overhaul to make its free email more user-friendly.
The revamped service will help users handle junk mail, sort messages as they arrive and feature social network links in a move analysts believe is an effort to win over customers of Google's rival Gmail.
Microsoft said email had become a "chore" for many users because their accounts had become overloaded with material.
The new service will automatically sort messages into different areas to distinguish between emails from contacts, newsletters, package delivery notices, social network posts and other senders identified by the account holder.
Microsoft's corporate vice president of Windows Live, Chris Jones, said in a blog: "A lot has changed in the last eight years and we think it's time for a fresh look at email.
"We are giving you the first email service that is connected to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, and soon, Skype, to bring relevant context and communications to your email.
"In the Outlook.com inbox, your personal email comes alive with photos of your friends, recent status updates and tweets that your friend has shared with you, the ability to chat and video call - all powered by an always up-to-date contact list that is connected to your social networks."
Microsoft is offering the service as a preview for the time being and has not announced an official release date.
It will advise users to upgrade but Hotmail subscribers can stick with the old system if they prefer.
Those who change to the new system keep their hotmail, msn or live.com email address suffix but can also add an outlook.com address to their account.