New look Hotmail and dud ideas

A few years back, Google entered the web-based email market with its product "Gmail". Though not formally offerred for public use, invitations to join its Beta testing became so widespread that it might has well have been a free-for-all.

Despite all this, and numerous offers to join Gmail, I stuck it out with my Hotmail account, one that I have had since 1997. There is no doubt in my mind that Gmail is the superior product - more storage space and a search function see to that. For me, though, the switching cost (well, effort really) of moving my contacts and stored emails from one to another, as well as informing all and sundry of my new address, made it too much effort. Besides, I concluded naively, the free market should surely dictate that Hotmail would have little choice but to add on the services that Gmail was offering in order to stem the tide of Hotmail refugees.

Yesterday upon logging in to my Hotmail account, I thought for a moment that my patience would be rewarded: I was invited to participate in a Beta testing for a 'new and improved' Hotmail (nothing particularly exclusive about it, since I presume participation is open to all users). Finally, Hotmail was making it's move.

Alas not. The new Beta-testable Hotmail is a regression from where Hotmail was previously, and involves a misguided attempt to merge Microsoft Outlook with Hotmail. The web-based Outlook is slow, clunky, and cluttered and barely usable. The problems with the new version are so fundamental that there is no way that this product could become the mainstream Hotmail product without severe reengineering. Or starting again.

Whilst the weaknesses of the new product are several, I think I'll start with a top five:
1. Inability to move multiple emails from one folder to another, or to mass delete them.
2. The strange attempt to search through my address book each time I type an address in the "To:" field, a process which slows down the entry of data to about one character per three seconds.
3. The massive tower ad and banner ad which occupy 40% of the screen.
4. The inability to include a standard 'signature' in each outgoing email.
5. The constant "Working on your request" message each time a simple request is made.

After less than 24 hours I've reverted back to the old-style Hotmail (which itself is a long way from perfect). If this is the best that the collective minds at Microsoft can come up with, I think I'll do my best impression of a West Papuan and head out on the boat.

Anyone else have any thoughts on the email war?


Anonymous said…

Gmail is a completely superior product. It is a pleasure to use. It is better than both Outlook and all webmails. As well as the search function and the capacity, it groups emails in conversations (like a manilla folder of faxes in the old days) which is really great.

To swap painlessly:
1. Sign up and email all your contacts that you have changed to Gmail.
2. Forward that group email to your Gmail address.
3. Save all the addresses from that email in your Gmail contacts.


You'll find that checking your old hotmail becomes highly infrequent in a surprisingly short time frame. Ask Nadav, he made a very similar switch.

Anonymous said…
Thanks for the reference Tafta. Of course, I agree with you.


I put off joining gmail for a while despite being aware that it was superior. Having made the move, I now don't know why I waited so long. It took me no more than about two hours to do all the work fo switching contacts, forwarding stuff and sending out a group email alerting contacts of my changed address.

Sharpy, you and I both resisted mobile phones for longer than most people. We gave in, and now we can't live without them.

Don't use laziness as an excuse. Sign up to gmail, and you'll never look back.
tlaloc said…
GMail is pretty close to flawless. I access it seamlessly through Apple Mail as an inbox additional to my ISPs mailbox. It is at least eqqual to my ISPs offering and it sh*ts on Hotmail, Excite and Fastmail from a very great height. Take an hour or two and make the jump. You won't regret it for a nanosecond.
Yahoo! mail (on which I am still using a 10 yr old account) has also just launched a beta version. It too looks like a Outlook account and now has a big f@*$-off tower banner down the right hand side.

In response to GMail they expanded the storage out to 1Gb (more than I'll ever need), and the search function is adequate enough.

For the time being, I'm with Ari in the "can't be bothered switching" camp - assuming he's still there, of course :)
Dan said…
Hey Ari

You may remember that I transferred from Hotmail to Yahoomail a few years ago. This was before the advent of Gmail (of which a lot of my geek friends are users). I made the jump to get away from spammers and have to say it has been mostly successful. I like you feel that the 'cost' in effort of changing to Gmail is too great for me. Also those competitive forces you refer to worked for me - the moment Gmail appeared Yahoomail increased my capacity to 1 gig (which is 100 times more than I am using). I guess Gmail is like Aldi - if it moves into my neighbourhood I benefit even if I still shop at Coles or Safeway.
Anonymous said…
To select multiple mails for deleting/moving to new folder just press control while you select them. Same as outlook

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