MSN: love it or hate it, it seems you have to tolerate it. At least for the time being. Likewise, Hotmail gains from the same migration bump. Still, there are a couple of things I'm playing with which you might want to try yourself as a kind of MS-nicorette patch.
Meebo is a web-based service that lets you log on to MSN, Yahoo! Messenger, ICQ, AOL and GTalk. It's got strong encryption, history and can store your passwords.
GetMail runs on your computer and, as the name suggests, goes and gets your hotmail and forwards it to wherever you want. I haven't got it working but it looks pretty sweet and might finally get you onto a decent webmail with sweet integrated chat.