ditching hotmail/msn

I remember when I got my first e-mail from a hotmail account. It was in late ’97 or early ’98 I believe, and it was from my mate Phil in Budapest. Before then, pretty much every e-mail address I’d seen came from some paid service or institution and was sent using some special mail client. yet here was something that was FREE and could be accessed from any browser. We all thought it was pretty cool. Then microsoft bought it and so on.

There are many technical arguments against hotmail but I’ll just tell you a little of my own experience. Like the time I didn’t check into my account for a while. My account filled up with spam, much of which hotmail actually identified as spam but still counted towards my quota. To release the pressure, it left the built-in spam folder and deleted the contents of other folders, such as the one marked ‘Personal’. The only remains of these is in the occasional print-out. Thanks, hotmail!

My brother tells me he still has a 2 meg quota on his account. The front page claims either 25 or 250 meg. In any case, this is quite obviously taking the piss and defies logic in the face of falling storage costs and robust competition unless you consider a single explanation:

Hotmail realises that people are only staying with it because it has been made too difficult to leave. Hotmailers either don’t know how crap the service is or they are too lethargic or anxious to make the break.

This frames the hotmail user base as a finite resource to be exploited as vigorously as possible before it finally, inevitably, leaks away. This is why hotmail is pumped full of ads and links to other microsoft services and affiliates with a future. It knows its customers are ready to carry on clearing their inboxes or stumping up for ‘plus’ or ‘premier’.

This ‘lock-in’ is the one crucial issue that you should consider when checking out different e-mail options. Of course, the maximum freedom comes from paying for your own domain name (I use lunarpages) but, short of that, you should look out for a webmail that lets you leave easily by forwarding on your mail. Yahoo will, for a fee, forward mail to another address of your choosing if you go elsewhere. Gmail will do it for free. This means that if I ever decide that, for whatever reason, I take a disliking to gmail I can just go elsewhere with no fuss. This shows extreme confidence on the part of gmail.

I deleted my old hotmail address, simonham, a long time ago but got a new one, spankysimon, just so that I could communicate with those people that still insisted on using MSN messenger. I’m now, perhaps irrationally, making a stand. With something like trillian, I can cover many yahoo messenger (simonham) and ICQ (193585162) . For video, I’d use skype(either sixball or simonham) but my preferred method is google talk (sixball), especially since it works within the school and integrate nicely with gmail.

There are plenty of ways to get in touch with me but from the 1st of March you won’t be able to do it via hotmail or msn messenger.

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