Through October, Gmail had more than 295 million active users to eclipse Microsoft's Hotmail at nearly 284 million users and Yahoo email at 282 million, according to the most recent data from the research firm comScore. At the same time last year, Hotmail led the pack with 335 million users, followed by Yahoo at 303 million and Gmail at more than 245 million.
With more people gravitating to Gmail, Microsoft also recently redesigned Hotmail and rebranded the service as Outlook.com — a reference to the communications channel built into the software maker's widely used Office suite of programs.
In a sign Google isn't taking its lead for granted, the company is the in process of phasing in changes to Gmail that will give it a slightly different look and add more features.
All the retooling underscores the ongoing importance of traditional email. Yahoo says it still processes about 30 billion emails each day and estimates its users collectively check their inboxes about 190 million times per day.