Ok, so skimming the news a few days ago, you might have noticed that you soon won't be able to use Hotmail from Outlook or Outlook Express:
Of course, I didn't get an email from Hotmail about this. My Hotmail account in Outlook 2003 just. stopped. working.
The last email I got from Hotmail was yet another piece of self-aggrandizing SPAM about "the great new MSN Toolbar" (for those of you who have been under a rock for the last year, MSN has a toolbar now that blocks popups).
This was followed by an ad for "Hotmail Plus" which mentioned the "virtually unlimited" space of 2 GB. (Um, could someone please explain to me how a fixed, finite size of 2 GB is "virtually unlimited?") The ad also said "Hotmail Plus" had "freedom" from the 30-day Hotmail account expiration policy, as well as 35 "custom filters," which will no doubt allow you to neatly separate your Hotmail spam from your Expedia spam from your MSN spam.
NO WHERE did this email say, "By the way, we're turning off access to your Hotmail account from Outlook. Starting tomorrow."
The only way to "fix" this problem, it seems, is to fork over $20/year for "Hotmail Plus." That will allow you to read your Hotmail messages in Outlook again.
This is a quote from the InfoWorld article:
Microsoft is making the move not to increase the number of paying Hotmail users but because the feature is being abused by senders of spam, said Brooke Richardson, lead product manager for MSN at Microsoft.
"Essentially what spammers do is create scripts so they can rapid-fire e-mail from Outlook or Outlook Express and pop off a hundred e-mails from each of those Hotmail accounts in rapid succession,"
Richardson said. "On certain days we have seen tens of thousands of Hotmail accounts set up and spamming in this matter."
In other words, Hotmail is asking you to fork over $20 per year, NOT because they really want your money, but because those darn spammers are just making life so hard for everyone.
It obviously never occurred to anyone at Microsoft to FIX the problem with Hotmail such that spammers couldn't abuse it. Like:
- Only allowing a handful of messages to be sent per hour from Outlook through Hotmail
- Requiring some kind of human-readable code to be entered when signing up for Hotmail (as is commonly used all over the Internet)
- Throttle the number of allowable Hotmail account signups from the same IP, so people can't sign up for "tens of thousands" of Hotmail accounts
Instead of implementing some kind of fix, Microsoft instead is charging people who don't send spam $20/year for the privilege of accessing their Hotmail via Outlook or Outlook Express.
I don't think I'd mind so much if Microsoft had just "changed their mind" and said, "Guess what folks? Hotmail is no longer FREE." Or if they had simply said, "We've decided that accessing Hotmail from Outlook is no longer free. We want to make money off that." That would be mean, but I would respect their desire to make money.
Instead, they are disingenuously pointing the fingers at spammers and stating that the spammers are MAKING them do this. They can't FIX Hotmail to keep spammers out, so instead they'll just keep EVERYONE out and charge admission.
Sender ID and now this... What happened to the Microsoft that used to make cool stuff? Someone tell me it isn't all overpriced crappy bloatware and giant patent lawsuits from here on out... please...?