While the Hotmail application for Android handsets and tablets is now available, it's only a matter of time before Apple iPhone and iPad owners will be able to integrate Hotmail email accounts with their devices too. However, it won't be released in app form as with the Google operating system. Instead, Microsoft has confirmed to Pocket-lint that it will be selectable as an account option in "Mail" when iOS 5 launches. 

Speaking to us in an exclusive one-to-one briefing, Bryan Saftler, Hotmail product manager, Microsoft Consumer and Online UK, explained that Apple's soon-to-be-released software upgrade will have the email service ingrained in its very core: "We're going to be native on iOS 5, which is going to be released momentarily, so just like you get any other email, it's going to be on that experience: push, calendar, contacts and email," he said.

It's the final piece in the puzzle to bring Hotmail back to the public conciousness, it seems.

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With Apple devices soon to be covered, and an Android portal already out there to download for free, Microsoft can finally say that it has brought the service to all smartphones, and can therefore compete on a level footing with Gmail.

Saftler is certainly confident: "Windows Phone on Mango - phenomenal experience. We've always had an experience on BlackBerry. Always had an experience on Nokia. So now we've covered the major smartphone market, and we'll be available fully for free."

Let battle commence.