Hotmail users revolt against new interface

Complaints mount about new design, slow speed and other problems

As Microsoft continues to roll out its redesigned Windows Live Hotmail, angry users are pushing back by complaining online that the new interface is a step backward and the Web-based e-mail service runs slower than before.

Most of the complaints stem from the revamped look and feel of Windows Live Hotmail, which Microsoft started to unveil September 22. The new interface does away with what had been two options: the years-old "classic" interface and a newer "full" interface that was first offered in 2006. Instead, Microsoft tossed those choices in favor of an interface that merged elements of both, and that the company claimed was much faster to render in a browser.

Users weren't amused.

"It's a big step backwards," said a user identified as "Dave the Red" in a message from late October on a Microsoft support newsgroup. "I want my old Hotmail back!!"

"Don't like it!!! Don't like it!!! Don't like it!!!" added an anonymous user in a comment posted Thursday to a short Microsoft FAQ on the new interface. "Everything seems to take up more space on the page. I feel like I'm looking at a book in large print for old folks! Please put it back the way it was!"

Others commenting on the same blog were a lot more blunt. "The new version is the biggest bunch of s**t, ever. I can't do anything, I mean anything at all," said another unidentified user.

Although there were some positive comments on the Microsoft FAQ, they were greatly outnumbered by gripes. By Computerworld's count, only three of the 100 most-recent comments applauded the change. The FAQ has collected more than 850 comments so far.

Some users reported more serious problems than an awkward interface, claiming that they weren't able to read, delete or print messages; couldn't access some of their folders; and were unable to compose and send new messages. "Come on Microsoft! First Vista, now this!" ranted a user labeled as "Joey" in a message Thursday. "I've used Hotmail for 8 years and never experienced any problems till now," he added, then ticked off nine problems, ranging from fuzzy fonts and missing contacts.

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Gregg Keizer

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