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back to article Microsoft wades into interwebulator chat about Hotmail

Microsoft is really keen to know what people think about Hotmail – even though it probably already knew most of the answers would be less than pretty. In an effort to explain its much-criticised web-based email service, the software giant asked members of the Reddit.com news aggregation site to respond to an “ask-me-anything” …

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Pfft

Many years ago I signed up, just to see what it was like. Never used the account, never used it to sign up to other sites, never gave that address to anyone.

Within hours spam was streaming in.

Never went back.

It has probably changed since then, but, no reason for me to go back, already have enough email accounts, don't need any more.

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Gates Horns

re. PFFFFFFFFFTTTTTTTTTTT

GOOD HEAVENS.

You read my mind. Saw that, did that, bought the T-shirt and coffee mug. How come an e-mail service has spam BEFORE you send or compose anything in it or give its address to anyone?

And I kept it just to stop the MSN Messenger whining every single log-in; back in the day you could use another e-mail to log to Messenger, but boy would it bitch you.

Nowadays I created another fake address with a NY Zip Code, so I could play Dirt 2 from my non-supported country. Yes, I want to save my gaming career, thank you. But that is another story.

Microsoft hates e-mail. Really, corporate e-mail is based on Exchange that has been around since (the '80s?). With all the cruft that comes from it. Even 16-bit code is hidden in Outlook

2000 when it claps out (wonky Win 3.1 font by default in a 32-bit program? Yeah right.)

Outlook Express stored all your e-mails in DBX files that were locked-in regarding their location on the hard drive, and you could only move them (and find them) using symbolic links that didn't exist back in the day, or venturing in tampering the system registry.

But now,that you have symlinks, you don't need to suffer with that POS, which makes O. Express even more FAIL. Since I had to support my friends that only used that, I learned how to deal with it the hard way.

Cue sending 1.9 GB of e-mails to a gmail account seen as a possibilty in a dying system to get you an idea. Y'know, the 2GB limit affects not only Outlook, but Outlook Express too. Go check your grandma mail now...

Perhaps Pegasus users had their glory days... but now everybody uses Webmail anyways. Gmail FTW.

I repeat, I only use Hotmail nowadays to get Messenger appeased. And I don't use it for anything else.

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FAIL

Spam, spam, spam, spam...

Just to echo what you wrote:

Many years ago I signed up to Hotmail, just to see what it was like. Never used the account, never used it to sign up to other sites, never gave that address to anyone. I used an obscure username composed of letters and numbers.

Within hours spam was streaming in.

I contacted Hotmail support and got a standard "we never sell or rent your email address, yada yada yada.

Back in 2005 Jason Smathers, 25 year old AOL employee, was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison today for using his insider position at AOL to harvest millions of AOL email addresses, and then selling them to a spammer for $28,000.

I suspect that Hotmail might have the same problem.

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2Gb limit

When Outlook nears the 2Gb limit it starts to mis-behave & yes, I know there should be a law against using Outlook - aka Lookout for POP3 mail but unfortunately there isnt.

The 'Microsoft in box repair tool' couldn't be more inappropriately named as 'tool' it certainly isnt and 'repair' it certainly dosnt.

The only time Ive ever deployed it, it excelled in crappyness and succeeded in not only deleting the most recent e-mail first, but also removing the attachments from the users hard drive including those that were attached to documents on network shares.

What gang on monkeys programmed this Im unsure, but thankfully all data was backed up.

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exchange -- paradise lost

I used to birch about exchange till I switched jobs and got shafted with Lotus Notes.

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Anonymous Coward

why has everyone turned into a girl?

I log in,

I read any mail,

I compose new mail,

I log out.

WTF are you people banging on about? It's not fking rocket science.

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Anonymous Coward

@Obviously!

Exactly!

I've had a hotmail account for over 10 years now and it's the only online service I've used that's been constant.

Every so often they bring out some "features" that "provide me with a better experience" like calendars or some profile sharing bullshit. I just ignore them.

If I want a facebook like service, I'll use facebook thanks.

If I want my email read by bots so I can receive more relevent adverts, I'll use gmail.

If I don't want any of that bullshit, I'll use Hotmail.

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FAIL

Does Hotmail

still append advertisements to the end of every email you send so that effectively you are acting as a spam source to all your contacts?

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Sex and rocket science

"why has everyone turned into a girl?"

I'm not sure what you mean exactly. Are you suggesting that girls don't like Hotmail, or that only men, boys, and women do?

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Bottomless Pit / Neverending wishlist

Brave of them to ask, seeing as they must have all knew how truly awful the service is / was.

Will they do anything to fix it? Nope. As you can see, they ask people the problem, people tell them, and then they deny its a problem or tell you that not enough people are interested for them to do anything about it.

WHY ASK?

I stopped using hotmail when i left school, 8+years ago, when you still only got 2mb as an account.

I get this limit is due to resources available at the time but come on. 2mb....

Also, the UI is awful, everytime i use it (i occasionally send confirmation codes im not that bothered about ever finding again to hotmail) i have to re-enable my account, and im them presented with an experience totally different to the last time i logged in.

People want consistency over anything when it comes to email, i dont care if it looks basic, if it works im happy, if i have to refresh 4 times just so it loads proerply im loggin off!

GMail came with a simple layout and yes theyve tweaked it slightly but essentially its the same as it was when it launched (visuals wise)

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Good Point

What IS with that whole re-enabling crap? It still stores all your emails, it still receives new ones (I think, anyway) and doesn't force you to change user/pass - so I can't see how it's helpful to M$ or us.

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FAIL

LiveId and Hotmail pushing at Customers

A big problem I have with Hotmail stems around LiveId and the inexplicable bundling of Mail, Blogging, Video Editing, IM and other Microsoft software items as a Windows Update Important (and therefore automatically installed) patch update - Patches are to correct defects for software items already installed, I thought, not for wholesale introduction of new software - Should make a Malware blagger blush, the way Microsoft behave...

The article mentions the high levels of SPAM that one would expect to 'enjoy', as part of Microsoft's Hotmail "Customer Experience" and the frankly shoddy level of security around the Hotmail domains - Whilst I accept these are likely (mostly) all in the past, I will not accept that they have got it right, now - It seems to me that personal computing has taken the direction of associating more and more personal activity and evidential data as something we, the Customer, all want - Nobody ever asked me - And there is so much more personal data at risk than ever before...

Finally, the essence of my problem is that, by linking all of those apps through LiveId, I feel compelled NOT to use these softwares simply because I will not trust Microsoft to manage these application items with security at the forefront of their thinking, so potentially putting at risk any data I have created or manage using the bundled (or should that be bungled?) apps collection. Further, my trust was completely eroded when these softwares were foisted upon Windows users, via Windows Update - It didn't take me very long to disable these, and the LiveID Service that running associatively in the background - I decide which service(s) I shall subscribe to and which of those will be using my network bandwidth with my knowledge and consent, thank you very much.

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Anonymous Coward

This is why I never answer user surveys.

Users giving feedback demand to know why their favourite feature hasn't been implemented.

Answer: "Because users giving us feedback told us not to."

Apparently these "injuneers" can read about as the average hotmail user can write. Need more reason to not use hotmail? The bad rep already is more than enough for me.

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FAIL

It's not the survey

Let me translate the CorporateSpeak:

"Because users giving us feedback told us not to"

means

"We won't change it because one of the guys in charge here likes it and refuses to let us change it"

Notice how the language of the Hotmail "injuneers" isn't the way real Engineers talk - it's the way Public Relations people talk. This wasn't a technology discussion, it was a P.R. event.

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Troll

Notmail

I've always seen it as a place where you go to get your first e-mail account. Very much bobby basic, poor UI, spam central and when you receive an @hotmail e-mail, you can't help but snobbishly mutter "bloody amateur"!

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Gates Horns

ActiveStink

ActiveSync is a pile of Microsoft-issue shit.

In regular Microsoft-defined-format style, it's clearly a thin XML wrapper around the basic underlying C* data structures that Exchange uses. Timestamps get transmitted as base64-encoded binary structs FFS!

Not to mention that the documentation - which they were forced to release IIRC - is incomplete, inaccurate, and in places contradictory.

ActiveSync may be the best "story" (in TDWTF sense), but it sure as hell isn't the best _solution_.

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Stop

They were asking USERS

NOT developers.

ActiveSync, from an end users point of view is superior to pretty much anything else out there. Push email, contacts, calendar, HTML email, security settings from the server etc.

And when you take into account that Exchange is the most popular mail server in the world then it makes a lot of sense for it to have a protocol that can be licenced to mutliple mobile device makers to allow it to communicate with the server whilst also allowing the admin to employ security polciies.

Is it great from a development POV? Probably not.

Is it great from an end-users and administrators POV? Compred to POP3 and IMAP there is simply no question.

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In defence...

I only keep a hotmail account as an address to give out to corporates who might spam me. (Recently also registered an account as a contact point for a newsletter.) I do think it's improved noticeably in the past couple of years. I find the interface tolerable and the spam filtering strong (it needs to be).

Plenty of negatives. You're saddled with endless links to Microsoft arcana, often poor imitations of Google products or social networks, that I could never imagine using. The service continues to suffer from serious lack of cool - it's hard to be taken seriously. And I agree about the complexity. Help system is dreadful (so is MS Office actually - if I don't know how to do something in Word I google it now rather than using their help as it never gives useful answers).

Negatives aside, I do think Hotmail has its place. Just not as a primary email service.

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1st choice?

It's never been my primary email. It's sometime used for registering (though I've another account for that) but mainly used as my Facebook email account and NOT linked by sharing address lists etc.

Going via Firefox with AdBlock means not much in the way of adverts - anything from MS just gets ignored. It's my primary webmail account - not sure even if I've got a Gmail one -- though it wouldn't surprise me if I did.

It's really used to separate my 'real' life from the 'me' on the web.

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Gates Halo

Where is my title?

I have been an avid hotmail user for what must be 15 years or more.... Every other account I ever had forwards to this one.... Keep it up M$.

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LoL

Loved that post. Captures the true spirit of the delusional MS fanboy nicely.

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"Why aren't we as good as Gmail?"

Must be all that dog food. (Gmail's servers run a real OS, don't they?)

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A re-brand?

One of the first discussions in that thread is about how the name hotmail has unprofessional associations for people and they should offer @office.com addresses. As ideas go it's not a terrible one.

But.

MS ask the interwebs why they don't like Hotmail and the interwebs reply that it needs a re-brand and an ad campaign? Unbelievable. So much for the wisom of crowds.

For the record, Hotmail is sh*t because it doesn't make sending and receiving emails easy. They need to take it right back to a blank page and then very slowly add features, asking each time "does this change make emailing people easier?". If the answer is no, then it doesn't go in.

Dear MS, the following 'features' that appear when I log in to my old hotmail account do not make emailing people easier: links to social networks, MSN headlines, ads, bing search, office Live, status updates, Photo search, the big blank blue column on the right hand side of the screen that I can't expand messages into...

Gmail works because it knows what its job is and (mostly) doesn't try to do anything else.

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My List

1. Spam Filtering -- light-years ahead in GMail.

2. UI -- Feels clunky in Hotmail; I personally prefer (on the whole) the GMail UI.

3. Threaded Emails -- a must to prevent being swamped in emails on medium to high mailing lists.

4. Labels -- much better than folders; the ability to have an email in more than one label (e.g. filtering email from mailing lists that are sent to more than one, or tracking status/workflow); combined with filters, this is a very powerful feature.

5. Coloured Labels -- easily see what email belongs where.

6. Labs -- tweaks to customise your UI experience.

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A resounding sentiment

Hotmail is irrevocably tied to people who chose their handle at age 11 and those looking for a disposable email address.

Just like most of the comments I read, I agree that they need some serious rebranding.

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a quick list

1) god awful UI (not a good layout)

2) god awful UI (ads, too busy look/feel)

3) poor syncing options

4) poor import/export options

5) spam

6) poor search/filter

7) no message threading

8) browser support varies

9) more likely to be blocked/filtered than gmail by companies (for some odd reason)

10) lables, tagging

11) calendar integration

If they really wanted this to work, they'd just go ahead and make the hotmail interface the Outlook Mobile Web interface, and stick an add banner in there somewhere, set up the back end as exchange, and let you connect to it using exchange syncing services with any device that supprots it (and general IMAP for everything else), and provide the same security/filtering their exchange hosted service provides.

Live.com is a nice service, Office Web apps are great. hotmail should be merged, and Outlook's interface shoudl become the default.

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view only admin answers

pro tip, paste this into your address bar and press enter to view only threads with OP responses (works on any IAMA on reddit)

javascript:$(".commentarea .thing").hide();$(".submitter").parents().filter(".thing").show(); alert("")

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FAIL

Proprietary "solutions" are no solution at all

Just because you think your "ActiveSync" is somehow "better" than IMAP does not mean people will not use IMAP.

If you want to convince people to switch, then offer IMAP and allow them to choose which "experience" they prefer. And yes, of course, they'd be likely to slow down IMAP functions; that's just expected from a joint like Microsoft.

The spam thing is also complete bollocks; their filtering has light-years to go before I'd even consider signing in. Hotmail is for throwaway addresses--which leads to another point:

WTF chose 'hotmail' and thought it would be a 'professional' address?

Now, granted, gmail isn't exactly the most professional of domains to email from, but I can mitigate that for $5/yr by buying a domain name and pointing the mail DNS to their servers--bingo, instant credibility and, as a bonus, no spam to speak of.

"Hotmail" on the other hand has no such functionality--at least, none I've ever seen advertised. "Hotmail" even -sounds- like a porn spam address. If they want people to use it as a serious domain, then try rebranding it, upgrading the servers, and putting a low paywall or something in.

Changing the UI to something that's not actively painful to use would also help.

As far as I've seen, with the notable exception of Internet Explorer (probably because it comes packaged with the OS), just about everything that Microsoft has ever done, internet-wise, has been second-rate and unuseful. It's a small wonder that they get dinged with antitrust laws all the time; making clueless users use their stuff as a default is the only way they get any use out of it at all.

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MS IMAP

"And yes, of course, they'd be likely to slow down IMAP functions; that's just expected from a joint like Microsoft."

Not only slow down... I have close observations from a company that outsourced running their mail service to Microsoft services (no, I don't have any idea why any sane company would do that), and now a constant theme in their internal open source user's mailing list is how badly their IMAP service works with clients running on Linux. It apparently has interesting interpretations of the protocol, or just plain bugs that MS probably strategically chooses not to fix. Reporting such problems to MS support desk is futile: They just ask if the problem can be reproduced with Outlook...

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WTF?

Never been there.

"Hotmail" --- it's targeted at 11-to-13-yr-olds, isn't it?

Yahoo! might sound very, very sill, but at least it doesn't make one expect adolescent spots.

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Why

hawt!

I'm sure people still sneer at anything with a hotmail address, they did 11 years ago after all.

I've had an active account with them for 10 years, used to be that they would close your account if you didn't login at least once every 30 days. Enrolled in 1997 IIRC. But that one was zapped, due to inability to login. I don't do any business through my ten year old account , though I have subscribed to a few mailing lists through it.

The awful, impractical web-based interface I was forced to use on my slow comp when M'soft withdrew support for IMAP - which to be fair we were informed of well in advance - + my inability to now no longer use my old Outlook Express 6 to connect to it put me off using hotmail for about a year. But m'soft kept it active for me this time and did not kill it.

I wish M'soft had re-enabled IMAP. I am however now using Live Mail, which kind of resembles OE. and is very nice - has a much better interface than the web site based option.

On reconnecting to my hotmail account having setup Windows Live mail 12 months after the IMAP withdrawal - I found I had some 7,000 unread emails, most of these were from my yahoo group lists, very little of it was spam. The spam filters have improved vastly.

My .gmx account attracts a lot more spam than does snotmail nowadays but granted, my gmx email address is spattered all over the Net, my hotmail one, isn't.

If you are going to use hotmail, ffs use Windows Live. I haven't checked the web interface recently but if it is as unusable as it was a year ago, no wonder people use gmail.

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FAIL

The reason...

The reason they're not as good as gmail is, they can't see why they aren't as good as gmail.

Microsoft's powers of observation have always been, ... um, ... shall we say, ... myopic?

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Is Gmail better?

I'm fully on g-mail now, but resisted for a long time because their interface is, to be blunt, bizarre and arcane, resembling no other e-mail client.

Even now, xx years later, the process of setting up labels and filters is counterintuitive and I'm amazed that it hasn't been streamlined.

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Megaphone

Archive, archive and archive.

Most people seem to miss the point of Gmail. The idea is to keep your inbox empty. Soon as you’ve dealt with a message simply archive it. After that use the powerful and fast search to find any email.

Here’s some info on archiving : http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=6576&hl=en

There’s not much point in having a Gmail account and keeping everything in your inbox.

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Go

Archive, archive and archive.

Most people seem to miss the point of Gmail. The idea is to keep your inbox empty. Soon as you’ve dealt with a message simply archive it. After that use the powerful and fast search to find any email.

Here’s some info on archiving : http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=6576&hl=en

There’s not much point in having a Gmail account and keeping everything in your inbox.

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I don't use Hotmail

simply because I do not want to support Microsoft or encourage them in anyway. I don't really care how good or bad the service is.

I don't use Gmail either.

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They don't exactly react to input, do they?

“We haven't implemented IMAP since based on the user feedback and usage data, there isn't a large enough need when you look at the other protocols we provide. For mobile – we believe ActiveSync is the best story."

Well that says it all, doesn't it. I use Gmail because it does IMAP. I'd use any stable, robust service that did IMAP, if I could expect it 'd be around to a while. It's what I use, it's what I know works, it's what I want. Hotmail is obviously not interested in my custom. <shrug>

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WTF?

People (not spambots) still use Hotmail?

I gave it up when MS bought it back in the mid-90s and never looked back.

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Crap UX, crap design, crap foundations

It's just bloody awful, and Hotmail keeps building on poort foundations rather than getting refactored! The whole linking of MSN Passports means you go through a horrid sequence of redirects, get a shitload of garbage tracking cookies that slow every subsequent request down. My ancient Hotmail account is now just a spam trap, and one that didn't work in Opera for some years.

"Use ActiveSync", isn't it dead yet!? It's just the usual Microsoft paradigm of we know better than industry standard protocols, let's stick our proprietary stuff in instead. Google and Apple are on the rise because they don't reinvent the wheel, then preach to everyone that wheels are actually square.

The best days of Hotmail were those simpler times when MS used FreeBSD to power it. Funny how things change.

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Gates Horns

even before that...

"The best days of Hotmail were those simpler times when MS used FreeBSD to power it. Funny how things change"

I'd go as far as saying that the best days of was before Microsoft bought them.

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Gates Horns

Will they ever learn.

Only reason I keep my Hotmail account is because some people still insist on using that to contact me. Everything is forwarded to my Gmail account.

Because I choose to forward all my Hotmail to my Gmail account, I get the stupid permanent yellow alert bar right across the top of my Hotmail that says "! Your mail is being forwarded to another email address. To stop forwarding your mail, go to Options." mmm

This shows the difference in attitude between Microsoft and Google. Google would never be so precious about what you do with your mail.

As far as I know it’s very hard to get your email forwarded to another web-mail service like Gmail. I think the only reason I can do it is because I set it up back in the day when you could still get the paid for Hotmail. Don't’ think you can forward your Hotmail mail to a Gmail account in a new account today. Small things like this add up and quickly puts people off Microsoft.

By the time Microsoft gets a clue about the Internet, it will probably be too late. The thing they should copy from Google is not it’s products, but it’s attitude and openness.

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what? who's the spammer?

One of our company mailservers had about 5 active e-mail accounts for an entire server (with multiple domains).

We would get 1000+ spam e-mails a week from hotmail.

There was no way to deal with it, trying to contact microsoft simply resulted in them saying our e-mail address wasn't on their ACL to contact them.

So they only accept/accepted abuse complaints from major ISPs and not the little guys.

We are always forced to block all hotmail because it's only used for spam.

I've seen a little spam from gmail but microsoft and yahoo take the cake for trucking spam and getting away with it.

Yahoo takes the complaints but it becomes a part-time job just contacting them about the spam leaving their network.

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Hotmail? What about Outlook Express and Windows Mail clients???

Microsoft does not want to know, but they have pissed off multitudes of owners of home computers, faithful users of Outlook Express for years. Then OE became Windows Mail with Vista. Now people who buy Windows 7 find that they have no Microsoft email client any more. OH! Of course, use Hotmail. But why not Thunderbird? ... Ben

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Far out ---- I thought I was the only one who pissed blood about this...

Wow.... lol.... I stopped using hotmail for a whole heap of reasons - such a long time ago, it's getting hard to remember.

I do remember MS increasing the inbox size from 1 Meg to 2 Meg, or was the attachment size - while Yahoo and others climbed up to 20 Meg..

I also remember Microsoft doing the shitty reigonalised media deals with Channel Nine - making it Nine MSN and the double dosing of corporate bullshit there. Channel NINE are one of these shit TV networks that cram every fucking add in, as much as they can, when ever they can, and they even miniaturise the credits at the end of the movie and run adds over the top of that, while they fast forward them.... so they can then stick in more adds between the movie and the next show; and they run the adds at 200% louder than the people talking in the movie.... especially late at night.....

Channel Nine carry on with all this "feed you shit" with no way to contact them type website layouts, and Microsoft are all part of this with their own versions of the same crap....

So that is dickheads doing deals with dickheads - and thinking the consumer is going to wear that on top of a SHIT service from both companies and while using a SHIT email service.

I also remember Microsoft linking the Hotmail email account, into the Microsoft Network.....

I dunno - I think corporate fuck-ups, of the mindset that when you complain about the 10 minutes of robots you have to face when calling customer service, who then justify it by saying that it speeds up the answering of your call, instead of just fucking answering the phone in the first place.....

I have to agree with pretty much all of the adverse feedback towards Microsoft and Hotmail - which much like Internet Explorer which only got Pop Up Add blocking, about 6 or 7 years after every other browser had it.....

As I have absolutely NO interest in Microsoft any more, and I absolutely refuse to have any of my valuable time wasted by these stupid corporate types and all their bullshit - I'd condense the long list down to this:

"Why do I not use hotmail any more - it's because you are dickheads, AND you make a shit product".

End of the Customer Satisfaction Survey.

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Gates Horns

What Microsoft Needs To Do

What Microsoft needs to do is scrap the entire thing and rebuild it *without* their patented bloat coding. It needs to be slim and responsive. It needs to not glitch. It needs to not tell me to log in again.

I've used Gmail in the past for several years and I've had my Hotmail account for over ten years now. Gmail is fast. But I worry about their intentions. At least in that, I think Microsoft is more transparent.

On the spam note, my old Hotmail account does receive spam daily, but my new account doesn't.

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Flame

Microsoft

Why is it that everything MS release is full of security holes / bugs / spam (delete as applicable) and no-one likes it. There are always better alternatives!

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I have a hotmail account

which I use for signing up to things, and I have a gmail account that I use for personal/important email.

I prefer gmail to hotmail, but I wouldn't give Microsoft too much of a grilling over hotmail: it doesn't cost me anything and it helps keep my main (gmail) inbox clean.

It's not a *bad* service, it's just that there are better services out there.

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Is it still up?

I thought nobody used that anymore, at least my 300-ish contacts don't.

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Never mind the spam _originating_ at hotmail...

James Woods sez on 12.11.10 @06:41gmt:

"One of our company mailservers had about 5 active e-mail accounts for an entire server (with multiple domains).

We would get 1000+ spam e-mails a week from hotmail.

There was no way to deal with it, trying to contact microsoft simply resulted in them saying our e-mail address wasn't on their ACL to contact them.

So they only accept/accepted abuse complaints from major ISPs and not the little guys.

We are always forced to block all hotmail because it's only used for spam.

I've seen a little spam from gmail but microsoft and yahoo take the cake for trucking spam and getting away with it.

Yahoo takes the complaints but it becomes a part-time job just contacting them about the spam leaving their network."

Granted, that's all old news, but still informative coming from an admin.

Still, what I'd love to know is... never mind the spam _originating_ from hotmail; what about all the spammers out there _spoofing_ hotmail with "from" addresses claiming to be from hotmail? Is there anything at all that MS has done about _that_? Or _can_ anything be done about that?

For the record, I have addresses at gmail and yahoo as backup addresses on those rare occasions that my main address -- a _real_ email address, on a real mailserver at a real domain which I _own_ -- goes south on me. I only use either of them when I can't get to my main address, and keep the inboxes empty (especially gmail, knowing their attitude towards privacy). I have two other gmail addresses, connected to blogspot blogs I run; one of them gets next to no spam at all, but the other one is clobbered fairly regularly.

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