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While researching this morning’s story about the latest interactive features from Microsoft’s Windows Live Hotmail, I realized it had been a while since I checked the market-share statistics for the major webmail services. I didn’t receive them in time for the earlier post, but now that they’ve arrived, the latest numbers show some interesting trends in both the worldwide and U.S. markets.

In short, Google’s Gmail has been surging — growing 29 percent over the past year in the U.S. to overtake Hotmail as the second largest webmail service in the country, with 52.8 million users as of last month, according to the comScore numbers. Yahoo is No. 1 in the U.S., at 90.2 million users as of last month — with its sizeable lead providing some cushion to withstand a 3 percent year-over-year decline.

Here’s the chart from comScore showing the U.S. trends.

Meanwhile, on the worldwide stage, Windows Live Hotmail remains the king, by far, according to the comScore research. But the numbers as of February show Microsoft slipping 5 percent over the past year, as Gmail has surged by 33 percent. Here’s that data set.

Facebook messaging doesn’t show up in these numbers, but that should be an interesting trend to watch in the coming years, as the dominant social network takes attention away from old-school internet services like webmail.

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