Anticipated and Unanticipated Packet Loss

24 February, 2005

I've been away for a couple of days. It's been a combination of spotty internet access (Speakeasy, my service provider, was having some kind of problem with "unanticipated packet loss in Seattle, Portland, and surrounding areas", that first made service intermittent and then wiped it out all together) and life busy-ness. Anyway, I've got a couple of posts in the works here, but I thought that, for now, I'd just give a quick update on a running issue here at IDFDZ: my problems with Hotmail.

They seem not only to continue, but to become ever stranger. Tonight, I received an email from Microsoft thusly:

In order to improve customer experience and reduce spam and junk e-mail abuse on MSN services, Hotmail will no longer allow new e-mail accounts to be accessed via Microsoft Office Outlook and Outlook Express.

We are pleased to inform you that because you are an existing and valued customer, at this time your current Hotmail and MSN account(s) are exempt from this restriction and you will be able to continue enjoying access to those accounts from Outlook or Outlook Express. However, any new Hotmail or MSN accounts you create will not be accessible via Outlook or Outlook Express.

I don't understand how abandoning remote access, even by their own products, will improve the "customer experience" (I also don't know how much these restrictions would even affect me if they applied since I use httpmail to access my account from Mail, which they never supported in the first place). Are they trying to prevent spam from being sent from within Hotmail? How does not accessing your mail through a client help prevent you from getting spammed? What's the point?

In the meantime, the other friend that I'd mentioned in the last post has also dropped his use of his Hotmail account with Outlook and, therefore, his account altogether. I don't know why anyone who uses a mail client would do otherwise. Since they paired this email with a pitch for something called Microsoft Outlook Live ("Because you actively use Outlook or Outlook Express to access one or more of your MSN Hotmail or MSN e-mail accounts [ed.: I don't], this could be the ideal time to consider subscribing to our powerful new e-mail service - Microsoft Office Outlook Live [ed.: or to cease using our service in any way whatsoever and reluctantly join the vast chorus of outrage that follows our every move]."), it feels to me like Microsoft is trying to use the spam issue as an excuse to try to monetize their email service. Which, besides being a morally grey area, seems like a pretty tough sell with a bunch of strong and openly accessible free service in the running all of which have, in my experience, much more effective spam filtering (Fastmail and Gmail, for example). Anyway, I'm surprised I haven't seen any comment about this rather shocking change in policy elsewhere. Are there really no geeks with Hotmail accounts? Including the ones who work for Microsoft?

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