It seems to be my lucky day today, notwithstanding the leave I failed to win. I had received an invite for Windows Live Mail desktop a few months ago. Though I downloaded it successfully, the installation would always fail. Multiple attempts yielded the same result.
I tried lady luck today and I must confess she's in a flirtatious mood! WLMD worked flawlessly and I'm currently using it to access my primary Hotmail account, though it can equally well be used to access multiple MSN, IMAP and POP3 (including Gmail) accounts. In fact WLMD is a hybrid download that even allows you to access newsgroups, subscribe to newsfeeds and do a host of other things. I guess Microsoft is finally rising to the fact that it has to collaborate with other services and assume a more symbiotic role if it needs to survive in the Web era.