Microsoft has announced that free POP3 technology has now been rolled out to Hotmail accounts worldwide.

The process of launching POP3 technology for free for the online email program kicked off in January with nine countries including the UK being the first to receive it.

The US and Brazil followed in February, and Microsoft has now confirmed that any Hotmail user across the world will be able to take advantage of the technology at no charge.

What POP3 means is that instead of accessing your email by logging into the Hotmail site, you can have it directed to email clients such as Outlook and Mail - both on your desktop and on your phone.

Hotmail users had previously had to pay for this service by subscribing to "Hotmail Plus", but with other online email services such as Gmail and Yahoo allowing it free of charge, Hotmail had to follow suit eventually - if not reluctantly.

For those Hotmail users among you, here are the settings you will need to set everything up:

POP server: (Port 995)
POP SSL required? Yes
User name: Your Windows Live ID, for example
Password: The password you usually use to sign in to Hotmail or Windows Live
SMTP server: (Port 25 or 587)
Authentication required? Yes (this matches your POP username and password)
TLS/SSL required? Yes