back to article Microsoft slips ads into Windows 10 Mail client – then U-turns so hard, it warps fabric of reality

Microsoft was, and maybe still is, considering injecting targeted adverts into the Windows 10 Mail app. For a few, er, lucky folks, ads would appear at the top of their inboxes, they were using the client without a paid-for Office 365 subscription. The advertising would be tailored to their interests. Revenues from the banners …

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  1. Magani
    Facepalm

    WTF?

    'Only' $16bn profit and they need to do this?

    Foot? Meet loaded gun.... again.

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: WTF?

      Sure for you and me $16bn is a lot. Per year, for a company the size of Microsoft? Not so much.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: WTF?

        It's still a lot. But "shareholder value" and so executive bonuses depend on doing better than before (whatever that was). And better than the others. Not better for the punters, far from it. Selling less for more is the way of business.

        1. Kris Sweeney

          Re: WTF?

          They might have done better if they had only released windows 10 for mobile and gaming devices rather than trying to force the adoption of an incomplete hash of an OS (mangled for touch only devices) on traditional desktop's.

          Of course the Store, Bing and Edge would be optional if they had simply added them into Windows 7, it needed a full new version to really bake them in.

          Shiny and New is not always better, especially where Microsoft is concerned, you think they would have learnt from ME, Vista and the IE antitrust cases, sadly there has been a bit of management churn and lessons have been forgotten.

          The only reason i'm using Windows 10 now is that I don't have the time to get all my tools working under a linux variant and a windows update borked audio output driver registration. After a backup-restore and windows update, the audio was knackered again so I had the choice of up-to-date and silent or working audio.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: WTF?

      Poverty is relative.

    3. A.P. Veening

      Re: WTF?

      More a case of open mouth wider and insert other foot as well.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WTF?

      Sadly, you are wrong. Users have been fucked over by Google, Facebook, and Microsoft - in exchange for FREE. Bilions of users, many, many times. So, how's that foot v loaded gun for them, eh? :(

      1. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge
        Megaphone

        Re: WTF?

        Isn't it time for the used to start a union and demand better pay?

    5. ForthIsNotDead Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: WTF?

      Why is it okay for Google and Yahoo, but not Microsoft?

      1. fandom Silver badge

        Re: WTF?

        MS spent years critizing Google for 'reading you mail' in order to display ads, they called it getting 'scroogled'

        So now they are doing it themselves.

        But,of course, nobody thought they actually believed in what they were saying

      2. Zakhar

        Re: WTF?

        @ForthIsNotDead

        The difference between Google/Yahoo and MicroShaft is that you do not pay anything for a Google O.S. (Android) whereas you do for Redmond's crap. So it's double sentence: pay when you buy the machine + pay with ads. At least, online papers remove ads when you pay!

      3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: WTF?

        "

        Why is it okay for Google and Yahoo, but not Microsoft?

        "

        Because you don't pay to use Google and Yahoo. Micro$oft charge for their main products.

        1. aks Bronze badge

          Re: WTF?

          Microsoft have handled this in a cack-handed way but it looks like they're exploring the concept of Office 365 for free (with ads). This business model certainly seems to work for Google, Facebook, etc.

          The target markets they mentioned are presumably places where few users are actually paying for the current product.

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: WTF?

            "This business model certainly seems to work for Google, Facebook, etc."

            The business model may "work" in terms of generating revenue, but it has societal downsides that seriously outweigh the benefits. Google, Facebook, etc., shouldn't be doing this (in the way they are) either. We don't want others joining this awful trend.

      4. nevarre

        Re: WTF?

        It's not OK because they are including ads in a product that was paid for. Mail is a bundled application that ships with the OS.

  2. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Flame

    Why would anyone tolerate this?

    There are plenty of good freeware email clients out there. I have to use Outlook at work, but have never used any MS product for email personally. We're all bombarded with enough pointless, soul-killing advertising daily. And does anyone actually buy any of the services or products offered? Or is the revenue just from 'delivered' ads?

    I suspect the only people that would use the 'free' MS email client are those that just don't know any better.

    1. billdehaan

      Re: Why would anyone tolerate this?

      Why would anyone tolerate this?

      Inertia.

      Back in the old days, I was astounded at the number of blatantly obvious scams that people fell for in email. Never mind the atrocious grammar and spelling of the scam emails, a casual look at the sender field would show you "From: Bill Gates <asdh98y423j4k32hh89@9a7dasdlkj34234.cn>".

      And then I saw a mundane friend's PC, where she used Outlook Express. Everyone I knew was running was running the Eudora, or the Bat, or Thunderbird, or Agent, or the like. Even the most unsophisticated user I knew was running the Mozilla mail client. I didn't know anyone who ran Outlook Express.

      And yet this mundane did. As did all of her friends. Why? "It came with the computer". When she got a dial-up ISP, the instructions for email were for OE, and so she used OE. And in OE, those spam emails appeared as being from "Bill Gates"; the email address didn't appear.

      There are more mundanes that software people. Most will simply use what comes with their machine, or phone, or tablet. Most use webmail now, either GMail, or Outlook, or their ISP. But those that don't will mostly use the first thing they find. And since Windows 10 includes a mail client with it, that's what they will use.

      1. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: Why would anyone tolerate this?

        Back in the old days, I was astounded at the number of blatantly obvious scams that people fell for in email.

        But that is the method they use. They are after the unsophisticated people.

        If you know to look at your mail headers when you get an email from Bill.Gates@microsoft.com, to see that none of the "Received:" headers include any routing through any microsoft.com domains, and can see the "Return-Path" header is to a completely different email address than From, well, they don't want you. In fact, they make it easy to see because they are actively trying to avoid you.

        This, of course, doesn't apply to spear-phishing attacks, that is a different class entirely.

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Why would anyone tolerate this?

          These days, it won't come from microsoft.com, it will come from some newly registered domain that looks a bit like it could be a microsoft domain.

          Examples from the last three days:

          lloydsbankonline.co.uk - 14th Nov

          sageonlineservices.co.uk - 15th Nov

          lloydsbankdocs.com - 16th Nov

          Does anyone know how to get Exchange to reject emails from domains that were registered less than 48 hours ago?

          1. bpfh Bronze badge

            Re: Why would anyone tolerate this?

            If you have your own mail server, post process the maildir, find to get all files in the last x minutes, grep and awk, pull the from domain, Whois (yep it still works), get registration date and sed the header to add [SPAM], then let your grep “[SPAM]” * | cages mv /foo/bar/user/maildir/cur/spam or somthing of that ilk...

            1. katrinab Silver badge

              Re: Why would anyone tolerate this?

              That sounds very unixy, and I'm not sure it would work on Exchange.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why would anyone tolerate this?

        "When she got a dial-up ISP, the instructions for email were for OE, [...]"

        When I first went onto the internet from home in the 1990s I used a small local ISP. The guy came along to set it up - and installed the Pegasus email application. Several ISPs later it still does everything I want - including the facility for a "raw" view of the headers and contents. It also doesn't render HTML picture content by default.

        I send a donation every so often in appreciation.

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: Why would anyone tolerate this?

          it still does everything I want

          I still do 80% (falling, but still) of my email on my RiscPC using Messenger :-)

          M.

          1. Agamemnon

            Re: Why would anyone tolerate this?

            (al)Pine if I'm on my servers because it's convenient.

            K9 on my Droids.

            Kontact on my Laptop.

            No Ads.

      3. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Why would anyone tolerate this?

        Which should be OK. Or even right. It isn't. because the bean counter lead corps. all take the piss. But this default, built-in "app" ought to be good enough for the causal user. That's what it is there for, supposedly. And Wordpad is probably good enough too, come to that.

      4. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: Why would anyone tolerate this?

        Wow, Memory Lane. I've used Eudora, Thunderbird, and I still use Agent for home. (I only use Outlook at work because I have to.) I don't think I've used The Bat but I'm pretty sure I've looked at it.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why would anyone tolerate this?

        you assumption that " Everyone I knew was running was running the... " is just as good as mine, i.e. " Everyone I knew was running was running the...", wait for this, Outlook Express (obviously some ran Outlook, at work). And while intertia played a part in my choice, it wasn't the main reason, I simply found that OE was the easiest BY FAR to be used from - I admit it, only a few - mail clients I tried as alternatives. And yes, OE had some deadly flaws, and yes, the live mail revamp also has some annoyences, yet in the day-to-day operation, I find it MUCH EASIER to handle than the (...) thunderbird, which is a drag, whenver I venture byond the basic "read e-mails". While I would not touch W10 mail client, which is, I heard, brutally stripped version of OE / live mail, and comes with free spying, I can understand that for many people, as it looks familiar and provides known features (presumably), this is THE client of choice, regardless of how poor _you_ think it is. Just like, bilions of people consume daily portion of facebook, regardless of how poor a life choice _I_ think it is.

    2. SMITCH79

      Re: Why would anyone tolerate this?

      I know a small business owner (contractor) who paid £50 quid or so for targeted advertising on Facebook. Reckons it got him £5k worth of work.

      Depressing. It's definitely here to stay.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Why would anyone tolerate this?

      Proverbial frogs in a pot of slowly boiling water, don't notice it getting hot and don't jump out to save themselves, until it is TOO LATE and they're cooked.

      1. Zakhar

        Re: Why would anyone tolerate this?

        Why would anyone tolerate running any of the not-free (as in you have to pay real money) crapware from Redmond?

      2. IceC0ld Bronze badge

        Re: Why would anyone tolerate this?

        until it is TOO LATE and they're cooked.

        ===

        bit of a typo there matey :o)

    4. WolfFan Silver badge

      Re: Why would anyone tolerate this?

      I use Outlook on Windows, Mac, and iOS for business email, 'cause we have Exchange Server around here and every ever so often Something Happens(tm) which causes other clients to hiccup. I use Thunderbird on Windows and Apple Mail on Mac and iOS for personal email. There is no Thunderbird on iOS, and Thunderbird on Mac is even more neglected than Thunderbird on Windows. I'll be replacing Thunderbird soon enough, preferably with a cross-platform Mac/Windows client. I have been testing Edison on iOS; there are a few issues, some of which are allegedly being addressed. We'll see.

      I do not use Microsoft Mail, or whatever they call it. I do not use Google Gmail client. I do not use Yahoo mail. Apple doesn't care what users do with Apple Mail. Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo do care. Deeply. Microsoft doesn't appear to be slurping Exchange Server. Yet. I think. In theory Apple Mail can access Exchange Server accounts; Thunderbird can't, unless IMAP is turned on, as Thunderbird doesn't speak Microsoft Weird Mail Thingie(tm). In practice, Microsoft tweaks Exchange Server regularly and just by accident the tweaks might, just might, break Apple Mail. Not every time. Just often enough to be Very Annoying(tm). If Microsoft would stop doing that, I'd use Apple Mail instead of Outlook on Macs and iOS. The two facts may be connected, which is why I only think that Microsoft isn't slurping Exchange Server.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why would anyone tolerate this?

      while I don't use W10, so can't comment directly, I can say, that I suspect you're a jerk. My suspicion is as sound as your suspicion (equally pig-headed).

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "There are plenty of good freeware email clients out there."

      I'm afraid the number is instead close to zero. Even Thunderbird didn't go far, and it has an ill-thought GUI that is far from intuitive (i.e., why you have to drag a file to a small are of the screen to attach it???). Its account management is still a complex mess for most users.

      Pegasus was nice years ago, but its author put itself in a dead end trying to reinvent and rewrite several wheels (and almost starving because of it). Pegasus version 5 was promised years ago. Now he's happy he wrote his own help system.... while he's still trying to use its own HTML rendering engine - good luck (you may not like HTML emails, but you still may need to read them...).

      The Moldovan The Bat looks to be still alive, while I never used Mailbird. The former is not free, the latter has a free edition with some limitations. It doesn't look "plenty" - is there something I forgot which is still actively developed?

      1. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge
        Trollface

        Re: "There are plenty of good freeware email clients out there."

        There are Elm and Mutt. How many more do you need.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: "There are plenty of good freeware email clients out there."

        "Even Thunderbird didn't go far, and it has an ill-thought GUI that is far from intuitive (i.e., why you have to drag a file to a small are of the screen to attach it???). "

        While it has plenty of faults (although the attachment issue you cite isn't one of them -- I've never attached anything to my emails that way), Thunderbird remains one of the best email clients around. That's not praise for Thunderbird, it's condemnation of the state of email clients these days.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: "There are plenty of good freeware email clients out there."

          I think TB's way of storing the mails in the profile is pretty annoying. (As with Outlook's .pst files, but that's no excuse). I want my actual profile, i.e. settings and the like, tucked out of the way. But my data ( the actual folders full of message) I want in a user folder, Ideally on a different partition. Easy to isolate/backup/reclaim.

          Maybe it's just me. But I like settings/programmes and data segregated.. You can replace software. Data is different.

          1. LDS Silver badge

            "storing the mails in the profile is pretty annoying"

            For most users it's the correct default, but it should be modifiable (Outlook .pst can be moved). Many users won't have different partitions, while profiles have automatically correct permissions (you can't access another profile directories unless you're an admin) - people creating folders around rarely set the correct ones. Again, reasonable defaults are OK, as long as power user can modify them. The issues arise when dumbed down applications remove any chance of personalization - and most applications are following this path.

    7. oiseau Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Why would anyone tolerate this?

      Hello:

      Injecting adverts into a desktop email client may be a little too much for Microsoft's traditional users and loyalists to swallow, though.

      Think so?

      Really?

      There are literally millions of these traditional users and loyalists you refer to and they have been shafted over and over (and over) again and yet, they're still MS fans even though things get muddier every year.

      Just wait and see ...

      Cheers,

      O.

  3. Nathar Leichoz

    Windows Mail gets worse and worse

    I wouldn't mind the ads if Microsoft delivered a feature parity product.

    Outlook Express -> Windows Live Mail -> Windows Mail -> Mail

    With every iteration of their free product, features get dropped.

    Windows Live Mail removed the ability to customize the toolbar buttons and forced different email accounts to have separate folders.

    Windows Mail removed the ability to have different email accounts altogether.

    Mail was just crap.

    1. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: Windows Mail gets worse and worse

      With every iteration of their free product, features get dropped.

      Think of using Windows as being like owning an elderly car in roadsalt country. Every Spring when temperatures rise and salt water attacks the vehicle's joints, a few parts fall off.

      Actually, I don't really quite understand why features vanish. It's not like old features increase raw materials cost or some such. Seems to me like the more normal problem is feature bloat. The subset of features one needs and uses slowly gets buried in cruft becoming harder every year to find and use.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Windows Mail gets worse and worse

        "I don't really quite understand why features vanish. It's not like old features increase raw materials cost or some such."

        I think a lot of this comes from the "simplicity" fad that's all the rage right now, by developers who confuse "simplicity" with "eliminating features".

        That said, every feature a product has does have an ongoing cost. More features mean more lines of code, and every line of code comes with an ongoing cost in terms of maintenance and increased complexity of the code base (which makes future changes more expensive to implement).

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Windows Mail gets worse and worse

          But also, there seems to be an element of adjusting the package to fit how they think people ought to be using the system. So they quite literally "deprecate" a function. Because it's not what we're meant to be doing. And the other side of the coin is to impose unwanted "features" to the extent of making them difficult or impossible to remove from the machine and even their alphabetical place in the start menu, Paint 3d/Maps/Connect/etc.

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: Windows Mail gets worse and worse

            "there seems to be an element of adjusting the package to fit how they think people ought to be using the system."

            Excellent point. This also seems to be turning into an industry-wide problem.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Windows Mail gets worse and worse

      The next iteration will remove the capability to send and receive email altogether.

      1. DJV Silver badge

        Re: Windows Mail gets worse and worse

        "The next iteration will remove the capability to send and receive email altogether."

        And MS will promote that as a feature to keep you safe from spam.

        1. VinceH Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Windows Mail gets worse and worse

          "And MS will promote that as a feature to keep you safe from spam."

          Well, spam other than their adverts, anyway.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Windows Mail gets worse and worse

        The next iteration will remove the capability to send and receive email altogether.

        unless you pay MS £9.99/month for the 'honour' of using the basic functionality of an email client.

        MS are really trying really hard to piss an awful lot of people off ATM.

        Please carry on and your Windows as a Paid for Service 'cunning plan' will fail.

        {proudly windows free for three years}

      3. Smoking Man

        Re: Windows Mail gets worse and worse

        And instantaneously MS will get sued by Apple claiming a patent violation.

      4. Florida1920 Silver badge

        Re: Windows Mail gets worse and worse

        The next iteration will remove the capability to send and receive email altogether.
        That will definitely be a feature, not a bug.

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