I have had a Hotmail account for 8 years now and a Yahoo account for 4 years. I originally used the old Outlook Express but have not used that or any other Hard Drive based system for many years. The prime advantages are no hassle transferring old email to a new Computer, no synchronizing between Computers is needed and easy access from anywhere in the world. Further there is near unlimited storage and inbuilt security scanning. My Yahoo account is used for all personal mail and Hotmail for everything else such as online shopping. Yahoo and Hotmail are the Market leaders with Gmail a distant third but catching up.
Signing up and free features
Yahoo has unlimited storage on free accounts. Hotmail has 5GB. With Yahoo you need the paid for Plus account. Hotmail free accounts expire after 120 days of no activity. Yahoo expires after 4 months of no activity. The Plus accounts of both systems have no expiration limits. No ads in Hotmail free except in outgoing email. Yahoo free has ads on the interface. This can be closed on the New Mail interface. No ads on either system for their Plus accounts. Both buy yahoo accounts have a good scanning system for viruses in email and attachments. Searching for old emails and using attachments is much better at Yahoo.
Interface and ease of use
Yahoo wins hands down in this area. The more advanced interface is the best on the Web. Especially useful is the Tabs system. Hotmail by comparison is frustrating. If you are in the middle of composing a new email and want to check something in an earlier email the only way is to save it as a draft and come back to it later. Yahoo is much simpler and quicker.
Search by keyword or sender or both and from the results get a list of refinement options such as gender, year and even a breakdown to months. For attachments received you can download view and then save. Searching with Hotmail produces great long lists of emails with no refinement options. Attachments received have to be saved somewhere first before opening often ending up in the wrong folder before being viewed.