Yes you can use outlook express or outlook to log into hotmail/msn accounts - but what if you want to use a better and much more advanced email client such as Mozilla Thunderbird, which does not support the interface required for accessing hotmail/msn via email software.
There is a FREE solution for both these accounts. Though I do not recommend hotmail/msn - simply because they offer only 2mb storage space and you need to access it at least once in 30 days or you loose all info stored in the account. Yahoo - on the other hand gives 100mb plus 6 months storage - i think - check it out.
For yahoo the program is Yahoopops. Even though the latest version is 0.6 - I recommend version 0.5 as the newer version is unable to delete mail in your account after downloading it.
For Hotmail/msn the program is Hotmail Popper. Apparently Microsoft will soon be stopping access to outside programs such as this one from accessing msn/hotmail accounts - unless you have hotmail plus paid account. I guess it is time to trash this account anyway. No offense to the service itself - it is one of the best free email services but the small size, time bound access is not so attractive - at least not for me.
For controlling SPAM - there is also a free solution - Spampal. This does a very good job and much better than most paid solutions.your Thunderbird email client also has junk mail filters - which when activated - do a fantastic job and you most probably will not require anti spam software.