July 20, 2001 1:40 PM PDT

Hotmail's face-lift spurs complaints

Hotmail came out with an upgraded service Thursday after it aborted attempts to launch it earlier this week.

The Microsoft Network experienced glitches Tuesday after the company implemented the new upgrades. But by Thursday, Microsoft said that the issues had been resolved and the new version was available.

The upgraded version of Hotmail has an interface similar to MSN Explorer, with new buttons, icons and tabs. The Web site also introduced a new junk mail filter and added two languages--Dutch and Swedish. In addition, the service has a quick address-list function that provides Hotmail members with fast access to their five most frequently used contacts.

Although the new upgrade is Microsoft's latest attempt to provide consumers with an easier way to manage e-mail, some Hotmail members complained about the new design.

"I have used Hotmail as my main Web-based e-mail for some time, although now it looks like I am going to have to change that," Norman Hansen of Concord, Calif., said in an e-mail to CNET News.com.

Hansen complained of minuscule font sizes and crashes to his computer when he tried to print. He also expressed irritation at the amount of unrelated content such as the ever-present MSN banner.

Another Hotmail member who has been using the service for several years agreed with Hansen, saying that while the new service is "more sophisticated, and everything is much more accessible," the automatic signature and other new features annoyed him.

"My biggest nightmare is that I'm going to get locked out of Hotmail, or I'm going to wake up and they're going to be charging me," he said.

Clamping down on spam
Despite complaints, Microsoft is still touting the upgraded service, particularly its new spam filter. The company said the filter enables people to choose three different options for stamping out unwanted junk mail. One option is similar to the previous version, while another option has more stringent methods of reducing spam such as routing suspicious e-mail to a bulk folder. The exclusive level will enable people to receive e-mail only from people listed in their address books.

Two years ago, when Hotmail implemented a new spam filter, it was met with criticism after consumers complained that the flow of "spam" to their in-boxes did not slow.

However, Sarah Lefko, MSN product manager, said the company is now using a variety of tactics to block junk mail, including keeping track of words commonly used in spam, patterns of words and numbers, as well as looking for mail that is not addressed to the specific Hotmail user.

"While the tactics of spammers get increasingly complex, we continue to enhance our filtering capabilities," Lefko said. "Fighting spam is a constant battle and one that we're committed to."

Christopher Stutheit of Laguna Niguel, Calif., applauded MSN's efforts, saying that the added features combined with "a more intelligent spam filter" make the service more enjoyable.

"It's hard to see why anyone would have a problem with this new package," Stutheit wrote in an e-mail. "Everything is smoother, sleeker and more user-friendly...It's the best free service out there by far."

However, Jason Catlett, president of Junkbusters, said that no filter system is flawless. While Hotmail's new junk mail filter offers people the ability to control the setting on their spam filters, with filtering there is always "an inevitable tradeoff."

"There's no perfect technology for filtering," Catlett said. "You either are not deleting some spam or you are deleting real messages. It's an intrinsic problem in automatic categorization of text messages--you get false positives and you get false negatives."

17 comments

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hotmail change
Have had multiple freezeups and more ads. Both my wife and I preferred the old format and will consider moving to another email service. I like gmail but will have to notify many contacts, newletters, etc.
Posted by d_wildemann (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I do not like the new hotmail look. I donot have space to read anything and it is so crammed up.
Posted by lasteraivao (2 comments )
Link Flag
I liked the old Hotmail. It didn't make me feel that I was so dumb that I had to have the new hotmail clutter up my mail. I waste a lot of time clicking that I never had to do before. Let's get the old hotmail back. It was better.
Posted by bigbeaudoll (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I heard about Hotmail up-dating stuff. I received an email purporting to be from hotmail's staff saying that I had to up-date my information or I would be disconnected, so I gave the information asked for. That was yesterday.

This morning, I had no hotmail account, I could not access it no matter what I tried. My cousin called me about an email she had received. It said I was stranded in London and wanted me to send her money, so I could get home. This was not so.

I knew then that I had been scammed. I tried to contact Hotmail to let them know about it, but there was no way to contact them. I lost everything and I had no way to warn others that it could happen to them.

Elizabeth Hill
Posted by ehill0788 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
The new hotmail look is crammed up. No Space and confusing. Go back to the old hotmail. Once said,
" If it is not broken don't fix it "
Posted by lasteraivao (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Enlarge your resolution to 1024x768 and you shouldn't have any problems being crammed.
Posted by boozip (2 comments )
Link Flag
I CANNOT READ MY COMPLETE MESSAGE AS THE WINDOW IS NOT LARGE ENOUGH
Posted by lmarlen56 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Increase your resolution settings. And please learn to use your caps lock key correctly =-)
Posted by boozip (2 comments )
Link Flag
I cannot get to everyone in my contact list, as it will not scroll down far enough. Also, under My Contacts the names are alphabetical by last name, first name. When I click on TO: the contact list comes up alphabetically by first name, and I can't get to the bottom of the list. Why do my contacts come up different ways. I want them to remain sorted the same way, by last name first. How can achieve this? Also, if I go to my contact list and put a check mark after several friends names, then click on "Send Email", only one name appears on the email I wish to forward. I am not happy with the new face of Hotmail. I was very comfortable with the old one. It wasn't broken, so why did we have to fix it?????
Posted by mwinter39 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
The new hotmail made me throw up. I am not feeling well and the ad that keeps coming up on the right hand side is so disgusting, a huge, flabby, stretch marked gut just hanging there, actually turned my stomach. I went to check my email and my husband said, "oh gross, what are you looking at?" I am embarassed to check my email. Then to add insult to injury, my email messages are now being cut off by the oversized ad which I believe is being marketed to me because hotmail knows I am a female in my 30's. Well, I am a very fit 30 something old who is insulted by marketing...to the point that I think I will just move on to gmail.
Posted by svollack (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Hotmail Face lift? What about Hotmail functionality? How about blank e-mails . . . all blank (send to, receive from, subject . . . and all are 199KB in size . . .

OK, turn off RTF . . . Where in Hotmail? In Outlook?

And just where is the compose tab? I have not seen that in a while!!!!

Thanks Hotmail . . . for your lack of help and your equivalent lack of caring about your customer.

You don't even have a reasonable mechanism set up to respond to these kinds of issues. I wonder IF you have any technical response ability at all . . . And I am not paying for help when it appears to be rampant in Hotmail!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is your issue, not mine!!!

You are chasing your customers away
Posted by rbeyer11 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I agree with a lot of what precedes this post. For the last 10 to 14 days, I can't access Hotmail from FireFox; but I can get in from Chrome. I have not idea how to contact MSN re my problem; and I am totally baffled about what's going on. I see a lot of other responders having similar frustrations.

I hate MS! They foisted the the abortion known as Vista on me when I got a new box in '08. Now they want to charge me a couple of hundred bucks for Win 7. They ought to pay me for doing beta testing on their miserable system (Vista) instead of wanting $$ for an upgrade.

I've heard said of MS that it is the "robber baron". That's not to far from the truth. I have no idea how to get help with getting Hotmail accessible again. Fortunately, somehow, with Chrome, I can get in. Years ago, I abandoned Hotmail except as my "spam trap" because it collected so much B.S. that was uninvited and unrequested.

Down with the Robber Baron, up with Google, yahoo, just about anybody else!

Amen,

AAW
Posted by Zsnark (3 comments )
Link Flag
I have just sent this suggestion to Hotmail:

Yes, I have an idea - get rid of your new format! Since you changed it this month, I have nothing but complaints about it. Why do Sent emails and historical emails now have to appear in my Inbox - it gets mighty confusing when I think I have a new email/have to delete in 2 places now! And tonight I couldn't pick up and forward a particular thread in an email conversation - Hotmail would only show the last email I received from the sender - nowhere was to be found the email which he sent to me 2 minutes before!

I also deleted an email tonight and it still appeared in both my Inbox and Sent emails and I had to delete them both again!

Why do sites always have to 'make improvements' which just end up as the opposite?! You are just cluttering us Hotmail users up and making the site user un-friendly! I would have recommended Windows Live Hotmail to others before - but not any more.

(and when I returned to my Inbox after sent in this comment, emails from 2007 were at the top of the list!! )
Posted by dulally1 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
WHY HOTMAIL SUCKS

My wife?s hotmail account was hijacked several days ago. If you expect Microsoft to help get your hijacked hotmail account back via their Recovery Center, you are wasting your time. My advice is to dump your hotmail account. I gave M$ everything piece of information I have that might help recover the account to no avail. I even offered to use my credit card to purchase the paid version of hotmail for MY hotmail account to prove who I am. I told them that I am an MSDN subscriber and even sent them an email from my work email address, and much more, but M$ would not help me. I bet if I was Bill Gates, I would get the account back. In summary, M$ service sucks.
Posted by CIAOVISTA1352 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I have had hotmail for over 15 years!!!!!
I was able to auto log in from my messanger which I can no longer do and from my browser but thanks to these so called improvemnts I can no longer do that because hotmail has changed it.
I cant use my secret answer question because it doesnt work and just send a reactivatyion to an old isp.
The only help is from a public forum (nice and secure not you clowns) and then you have to be logged in....HELLOO!!!!!!
I even rang microsft out of frustration and after speaking to someone from alpha centauri I was put through to the front help desk and an amercian voice listened carefully checked himself what I was saying and agreed there was no way I could contact hotmail to try and get it resolved.
So now after 15 years of being a faithful customer I have walked. I have had no choice at all.
I would strongly reccomend that every one do likewise before you are locked out like I am.
Microsoft even advised me to try and use the abuse report and spam report because that is the only way to contact them. I even emailed channel ninemsn here in Perth WEstern Australia and you guessed no replies from all parties.
I am furious beyond words that a good service has been turned in to a shambles.
When the changes were announced and 3rd parties got involved I could see this happening a mile off.
Vote with your feet and make them listen and then laugh because you will have found something with some integrity because hotmail has nothing but I whole pile of fascile information and no service.
Posted by clivewilk (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oh and the coup de grace' is I had just received a thank you note from hotmail for over 10 years of faithfull service....do they always send accolades just before they sodomise you! How ironic eh!
Posted by clivewilk (2 comments )
Link Flag
Hotmail needs to prevent others from hacking into the accounts, 7 people I know, including myself has been hacked, also they need to fix their hotmail accounts to make it easier to cancel. Sometimes when its link to microsoft points, people already canceled it but hotmail still hasn't update their systems. It's frustrating that there's no one to help sort out the issue. All of my family and friends has cancel with hotmail due to the hacking and cancellation issue. Very horrible service.
Posted by Trinity_Luu (1 comment )
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