Yes, you read that line right, in Canada we can now access Hotmail or WIndows Live mail messages using an email program such as Outlook, OS X Mail, Thunderbird, Eudora, Evolution, etc.

Previously a paid subscription was required to access your Hotmail from anything other than a web browser, and anything other than MS Outlook would not work.

The announcement on the Windows Live blog can be found here.

I have just set up my Thunderbird mail client with my Hotmail account, and the settings I used were as follows:

Incoming Mail server:
Incoming Mail server port: 995
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) for incoming is enabled
Username is your full Hotmail/Windows Live email ("[email protected]")
Outgoing Mail server:
Outgoing Mail server port: 587
TLS, and not SSL, is enabled
Username is as above for incoming

The settings given by Microsoft did not work for me as they were set out. In particular, I had to troubleshoot my outgoing server settings. Because many ISP's (Internet Service Providers) block the default port of 25 for outgoing mail as an anti-spam measure, some of you might find that using port 25 will not work. So try either 587 or 465 instead, and if you can, try changing your SSL to TLS.

And remember, accessing your hotmail account this way will not remove the original messages from the webmail server unless you set your mail program to delete them when you retrieve them.. Also, any custom folders or mail rules will not appear in your mail program using POP access like this. You will have to make them manually and sort your messages initially. You will still have to sign in to your account manually and clean up once in a while.

Good luck, and enjoy your mail access!