Hotmail users get hot under the collar after upgrade

Microsoft deletes scores of support messages, suggests users try Chrome

Some users are hot at Microsoft over snafus in the new Hotmail that have locked them out of their accounts, blocked them from viewing mail or kept them from accessing contacts.

Microsoft started rolling out a revamp of its Windows Live Hotmail in mid-June, and said it had completed the upgrade for 350 million users earlier this month.

But since late July, complaints spiked dramatically on the free Web-based e-mail service's support forum.

Some of the threads on Microsoft's support forum have also been heavily redacted, with numerous messages now labeled only with "This post was deleted by a moderator." Other threads have been locked down, and will accept no new messages.

"I'm now going on week 2 and still can not read/write emails," said self-described "Angry_user" in a message on a support thread last week. "I guess this is another way of Microsoft telling their subscribers that if the new upgrade does not work, well, you are SOL and it's time for you to get a new email service from someone else."

Several follow-up messages from Angry_user were deleted by Microsoft moderators.

The number of complaints is difficult to gauge, since they are spread across a number of threads, some that have been archived for what Microsoft has called "technical difficulties."

But users believe the count is significant. "Since July 28, Microsoft has received thousands of complaints in these forums from customers who are having trouble with Wave4 Hotmail," charged "langware" in a thread that kicked off yesterday. "What has Microsoft done with respect to these complaints?"

In that same thread, Angry_user popped up on with another status update on Tuesday: "We are now on week 3 and I still can not read/send email."

Bugs range from the most basic -- an inability to access e-mail or contacts or both -- to the bizarre.

"I open my SENT folder, select a message, and then move it to some other folder ... [and] the sender's name (for the message that was just moved) changes to my name!!" reported langware on Aug. 3.

Much of the advice Microsoft or its forum representatives have given users was to tell them to try a different browser . In a message yesterday , Microsoft again listed the supported browsers, which include Internet Explorer (IE) 6 and later, Firefox 3 and later, Safari 4 and later, and the newest version of Chrome on Windows.

"[The] Hotmail product group is using [user-supplied] information to create hotfixes for the issues reported by customers," Microsoft said in the same message. "We will be making broad updates to this thread as we have new workarounds or fixes related to the issues."

Microsoft declined to answer questions about why it's deleted large numbers of user posts and how the bugs were missed during beta testing.

The company is working on a fix for a problem related to accessing Hotmail over a mobile broadband connection, however, and said it will update the service as necessary. "The Hotmail team will continue to make periodic updates based on customer feedback," a Microsoft spokeswoman said in an e-mail. She did not reveal a timetable for such updates, however, or whether they would be publicly disclosed.

As a workaround, Microsoft suggested that users download the Windows Live Mail desktop client to access their Hotmail accounts. Windows Live Mail, a part of the Windows Live Essentials bundle, is a free download. Numerous users on the support forums reported that they were able to finally access Hotmail using the desktop client.

Microsoft also recommended running Chrome, saying users had reported that they were able to reach their Hotmail accounts with Google 's browser after rivals had failed them.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
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