September 26, 2004 9:00 PM PDT

Hotmail to wean users from free export tool

As many as 18 million Hotmail subscribers will be weaned Monday from a free service that lets them export e-mail to another mail client, under Microsoft MSN's new spam-fighting plan.

Hotmail, the Internet portal's Web-based e-mail service, has long offered subscribers the ability to use a technology standard known as Web DAV (Web distributed authoring and versioning) to download e-mail from Hotmail into Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express for free.

Starting Monday, MSN will grant use of Web DAV tools only to paid subscribers of Hotmail, which starts at $19.95. However, Hotmail subscribers who have previously used the technology, an estimated 5 percent to 10 percent of its total 187 million customers, will be able to continue to use it for free through March or April of 2005.

"We've seen spammers exploiting this Web DAV protocol, and we're going to make a change to help curb its abuse. New spammers won't be able to set up of free accounts" to send junk e-mail, said Brook Richardson, lead product manager for MSN communications services.

"We felt we needed to make a decision for the greater good, not only for Hotmail users, but also for the whole e-mail ecosystem," Richardson said.

Hotmail users will still be able to import e-mail from third-party services using POP (Post Office Protocol).

The move is only the latest technology front MSN has put up to staunch spam. Previously, Hotmail has started requiring new subscribers to input an authorization code before signing up, in order to prove they're not a spam robot.

Yahoo and America Online have similarly restricted access to e-mail exporting tools to only paid subscribers.

13 comments

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Microsoft fighting spam or forcing subscriptions?
The integration of Hotmail accounts in Outlook is a great feature. Microsoft knows it too. I'm disheartened to hear that Microsoft is using what I feel is an affectation of "fighting spam" to force subscriptions on perfectly good users. Eliminating the free use of the feature is NOT going to stop spam.
Posted by jwhuyck (6 comments )
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Export
From what I gathered from the story. Export from a pop accout to hotmail was the only service effected.

Import from Hotmail to outlook or such will still work jsut fine with no charge.
Posted by Sboston (498 comments )
Link Flag
goodbye hotmail, hello gmail
I recently got a gmail account, but didn't see myself using it
much, even though gmail's web interface is so much nicer than
hotmail's. the reason? WebDAV. Thanks to WebDAV I can check
hotmail on my Mac with Mail.app (thanks to a plug-in written by
Daniel Parnell), on my Windows PC with Outlook Express, and
when I'm away from either of my computers, via the web. It
doesn't get any better than that. But now, without WebDAV,
Gmail looks WAY better than Hotmail. When WebDAV goes
away, so does my use of Hotmail.
Posted by chris_d (195 comments )
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Typical Microsoft
This is lame.

It is SO obviously nothing to do with spam and is just a ploy to make people pay for what used to come as standard (and has the added "benefit" of forcing users to look at advertising and pop ups).

Microsoft has stripped back Hotmail features one by one in a cyncical attempt to screw money out of users. You can't even keep copies of your sent mail for any length of time (even though you are WELL within your storage limits).

How much do you want a bet that they switch off WebDav access a hell of a lot fater than they upgrade accounts to 250MB storage.
Posted by (2 comments )
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The Alternatives
Now that OE's built-in integration with Hotmail is gone (for free anyway) I'll be dropping OE and using a free Webmail Gateway interface with any email client I like.

Goodbye WebDAV - Hello FreePOPs
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.freepops.org" target="_newWindow">http://www.freepops.org</a>

Goodbye OE - hello Thunderbird
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.mozilla.org/products/thunderbird" target="_newWindow">http://www.mozilla.org/products/thunderbird</a>

So in an effort to make more users pay Microsoft is really just cutting the last cord for lots of users of OE during a time when alternatives to both IE and OE are slowly but surely cutting into Microsoft's internet client market share? Smart move!
Posted by (4 comments )
Link Flag
Who are they kidding?
This is not about spam it's about $... $19.95 per each. Microsoft is finding another way to get rid of the people who don't pay them. The ads aren't enough, they want to make money a both ends. You must understand that Bill believes he'll go to heaven, stealing from the poor (us) and distributing it to third world countries via his charities.
Posted by (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Indeed
Funny that Mr. Gates can get tax-right offs for those "charities" and still make money off of them...funny indeed...
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
HotMail Inbox Watcher
We know HotMail and WebDav well.

We wrote a HotMail Inbox Watcher Klip that lets anyone monitor their HotMail Inbox for new messages  and see a preview  without having to manually login to check their messages.

In creating the HotMail Inbox Watcher, we got the strong sense that the only other companies using HotMail/WebDav were spammers exploiting Microsoft HotMail.

We would like to see some Microsoft support an API for HotMail so other sanctioned applications could integrate with HotMail and increase its value for end-users.

The HotMail Inbox Watcher Klip runs in KlipFolio, a platform for intelligent awareness of changes to remote data. KlipFolio is free for personal, non-commercial use and available at CNet Downloads.

You can download it at <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.download.com/Serence-KlipFolio/3000-9227-10283770.html?tag=lst-0-1" target="_newWindow">http://www.download.com/Serence-KlipFolio/3000-9227-10283770.html?tag=lst-0-1</a>

Regards,& Fred
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Good By Hotmail
Once again M$soft has proven they are only interested in money. I have had my hotmail account since 1995, I will not pay. Outlook Express is not worth anything to me anymore. Just one of the many pieces of software put on MY computer to waste HD space ... oh I forgot M$soft owns the software I only have the "right" to use their software as thet see fit. BYE BYE to Hotmail I will not pay for a Hotmail account. www.myway.com is free. I plan on moving over there. They also don't have the ads &#38; popups that M$soft does
"old"devildog
Posted by "old"devildog (1 comment )
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April?
I've been using Outlook and Outlook Express to access my Hotmail account for a very long time, and now I'm being blocked, with no warning. It says, "An unknown error has occurred." In the details it says, "Access to Hotmail via Outlook and Outlook Express now requires a subscription. Please sign up at <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://upgrade.msn.com" target="_newWindow">http://upgrade.msn.com</a>". Strangely, my wife's account, which she got recently and uses only for Messenger, is able to check mail through OE.

I use Hotmail only as a backup and OE only because it lets me use Hotmail with my IMAP amd POP accounts in one app. If I'm forced to use web-based mail, then goodbye Hotmail and goodbye Outlook. I'll go back to Pegasus and Eudora, and check out Gmail.
Posted by (1 comment )
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Another excuse for MS to make money
What a joke...yeah, Microsoft is REALLY out to stop the spammers, not to suck more money from the honest good-paying customers they already have enough of. Where have I heard this before...something implemented by MS to stop the bad people but really all it does is require more money and more work from the honest customers...software activation ring a bell? I'm sure one of the deciding factors in moving to subscription only for OE and Outlook access was that most of their hotmail subscribers finally got a taste of a decent web-based email program in the form of Gmail, and figured out that despite MS's attempts to stop them, they can use OE and Outlook to download their contacts and export them to Gmail (probably the main reason that people stick with hotmail other than not wanting to change their email address). When was the last time that Microsoft did anything good for their users that didn't require a whole lot of money either to be paid upfront or in the long run? I guess I better be careful what I say...big brother is always watching, right? =)
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wait, What?
So Microsoft is moving Hotmail to Outlook? I'm really confused. Does that mean that Hotmail will cease to exist, or just that we'll not be able to download stuff to Outlook? There seems to be a lack of clarity on this particular article: either the author has been censored by Bill and his cronies, or I'm more computer inept than I thought.
Posted by (1 comment )
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