Microsoft's new Hotmail: Not a smooth transition for all

Microsoft's new Hotmail: Not a smooth transition for all

Summary: Microsoft rolled out to all of its Hotmail users the newest version of its Web-based e-mail program in early August. Since that time, a number of users have been reporting problems accessing and composing their mail when using the latest release.

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Microsoft rolled out to all of its Hotmail users the newest version of its Web-based e-mail program in early August. Since that time, a number of users have been reporting problems accessing and composing their mail when using the latest release.

“During the Windows Live Hotmail rollout, we discovered some customers are having issues. We are working quickly to resolve these issues and apologize for any inconvenience this may be causing our customers. If a customer is experiencing an issue, they should check the Windows Live Solution Center to report their issue and find potential solutions," said a company spokesperson I contacted via e-mail.

Since the end of July, hundreds of numerous complaints have been added to the support forums. (Update: Users in the forum say there are hundreds, but it's hard to get a real count as Microsoft has restarted the support threads, claiming "technical difficulties.")

On August 10, company officials added to the forums a few suggestions to head off some of the issues.

Microsoft is advising users to try using browsers other than Safari 3 and Firefox 2 as a solution. According to Microsoft, the new Hotmail seems to be working well with:

* Internet Explorer 6.0+ on Windows * Internet Explorer 6.x * Internet Explorer 7.x * Internet Explorer 8.x (Standards mode) * Firefox 3.0+ on Windows and Macintosh * Safari 4.0+ on Windows and Macintosh * Chrome on Windows – latest major version

Microsoft is advising Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 users who are having viewing problems to make sure their high-contrast options are off. They're also asking Hotmail users experiencing problems to let them know which ISPs they are using.

I asked Microsoft officials whether they had any further plans to remedy the reported Hotmail problems. I was referred by a company spokesperson to this blog post announcing the availability of the new Hotmail to 350 million users. In that post, Microsoft Program Manager Mike Schackwitz says:

"We’ve already gotten lots of feedback, and we’ve already made some changes based on the feedback we’ve received – for instance, we no longer sign you into Messenger by default. We’ll continue to go through feedback, and we’ll continue to make improvements and updates. So, keep the comments coming and thanks for using Hotmail."

Hmm. So does that mean the Hotmail version that we Hotmail users are running now is not the final version, but a beta/test build? Microsoft takes pains to make it less-than-clear as to whether releases of its Windows Live services are in beta or final form. No word back from company officials yet on that point.

Update (August 11): I think the team is acknowledging that the worldwide rollout is not final and will be updated again before it is considered to be so -- which is good news for those unable to access their mail. However,it's hard to tell from this statement, delivered via a corporate spokesperson:

“As a web service, the Hotmail team will continue to make periodic updates based on customer feedback and its desire to be the most efficient email service. The blog post you referenced was written to share the global availability of a significant update to the new (Wave 4) Hotmail.”

I've had no problems accessing my new Hotmail account (using IE 8 or Firefox 3.6.8) and have found the new Sweep feature to be useful. Any other Hotmail users out there have specific problems to report?

Topics: Browser, Collaboration, Microsoft, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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52 comments
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  • RE: Microsoft's new Hotmail: Not a smooth transition for all

    Absolutely no problems here. Using IE8 and it works great!
    wjohnso587
    • No issues here.

      @wjohnso587
      Dumped gmail a month or so before the new hotmail hit my inbox in preparation for it. Haven't looked back. Gmail is now my junk mail account.
      ericesque
      • Bahaha

        @ericesque

        Still use AOL for my junk. :)
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • RE: Microsoft's new Hotmail: Not a smooth transition for all

    Same
    jarrichvdv
  • So basically...

    ...if you're using a really old web browser, in addition to having a bad Hotmail experience, you have about a million other reasons to upgrade your browser already.
    GoodThings2Life
    • ISP problems, too

      Hi. Seems like there are ISP issues too. Qwest is being named in the forums. Also: MS is acknowledging there are problems beyond the browser and said they are trying to fix.... Thanks. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
  • RE: Microsoft's new Hotmail: Not a smooth transition for all

    I love the new Hotmail interface. With the Plus version it is nice to be 'add free' as well. I may abandon my Outlook connector.
    ClickHouse
  • Seems to work okay here...

    Works fine under Firefox 3.6.8 on an Ubuntu virtual machine. Works more reliably than the former Hotmail version had been for me with Firefox. In the past I often had to wait for Hotmail for upwards of 2 minutes if I tried to 'move' a mail from one folder to another, as well as having the same issue with selecting a mail and hitting the Delete button, would just give me a 'Loading' yellow box in the bottom left of Firefox, and just sit there... So while the new 'Windows Live Hotmail' thing may be problematic for some, it's solved problems for others/me...

    That said, I still prefer the older Hotmail, minus the weird Firefox issues I had had with it. It was...faster... And didn't have 'Windows Live' cheesily tacked on to the name too.
    KOS-MOS
  • works like a charm !!

    the new hotmails pretty awesome !

    as i understand it ... hotmail is not beta for public. they "add" or "upgrade" features regularly, thats normal for any webservice.
    dokteriq
    • upgrading hotmail

      Yes, they do add minor features regularly to Hotmail. But this new "wave 4" release was advertised as a major upgrade and one that took about 2+ years since the wave 3 one. I am curious if what was rolled out is considered "final" or a test build... If a test build, bugs are to be expected. The public shouldn't unknowingly be beta testing something though, imho. Thanks. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • RE: Microsoft's new Hotmail: Not a smooth transition for all

        @Mary Jo Foley - When I downloaded Wave 4 it CLEARLY stated I was installing a BETA version.

        I only use Hotmail through the Windows Live Mail program, and have not had any problems except for getting used to the ribbon interface. Actually, my only problem with that is the location of some of the buttons which can't be moved.

        If Wave 4 was updated to final, it did it quietly.

        Speaking of ISP's, several years ago mine (Intrstar.net) totally blocked messages to their server from Hotmail, stating spam overload as the reason. They have since seen the light of day and lifted that restriction.

        I use Windows live mail to check my Hotmail, Gmail, Intrstar, and my personal website email accounts, for a total of 6 accounts all at once. Works great.
        babyboomer57
      • RE: Microsoft's new Hotmail: Not a smooth transition for all

        @Mary Jo Foley: I don't appreciate opening my Hotmail one day to find a strange and unfamiliar interface without any warning. Neither did I appreciate not being able to access my Sent and other boxes, at first.
        Springing this on me, and not being able to roll back till later, are not appreciated by me.
        I hope that this time the font and text size buttons will be operational, at long last.
        This having been said, I do like Hotmail overall, regardless of room for improvement.
        PreachJohn
  • RE: Microsoft's new Hotmail: Not a smooth transition for all

    The new version of Hotmail no longer works with the Opera browser, my browser of choice. In the first stage of the upgrade, I could at least access my inbox, but no longer.

    I can understand MS being a tad bit upset with Opera due to the objections the company placed with the EU. But to alienate their mail customers by essentially blocking Opera users is a dumbheaded move IMO.
    M.R. Kennedy
    • RE: Microsoft's new Hotmail: Not a smooth transition for all

      @M.R. Kennedy
      That's weird, because I'm using Opera to access my hotmail account and it works fine. In some specific operations though it says that the page might not be designed for my browser, but I still continue anyways and all works fine (I'm using Opera. 10.60 btw). But I guess I can't speak for all cases, and I don't think I've tried to perform all operations to generalize; this is just my experience so far.
      artstate
      • Opera support ?

        @artstate
        Did you see Opera in the list of supported browsers ? I didn't.
        levilan@...
      • RE: Microsoft's new Hotmail: Not a smooth transition for all

        @artstate
        I'm still using 9.65. I had been able to access my inbox, but wasn't able to generate a new message. Now, all I get is the "you need to upgrade your browser" message.

        And no, Opera is *not* listed as a supported browser by Hotmail.
        M.R. Kennedy
  • Safari 3 & Firefox 2 users

    Safari 3 & Firefox 2 users would be the cousins (in spirit) of the same people who might use IE 6 at home (vs. IT corporate policy forcing it upon them). They are likely anachronisms in their way of working and thinking but specifically incredibly marginal with respect to browser market share.

    Tough dodo. Get with the rest of the world and upgrade already.

    -M

    PS: "This app doesn't work on Windows 2.0!!!" Yeah. Tough dodo.
    betelgeuse68
  • RE: Microsoft's new Hotmail: Not a smooth transition for all

    As to report , "for instance, we no longer sign you into Messenger by default." that is bull crap! As we speak it still does so and is very annoying feature.

    Yes it is a beta program thrown together where the left hand does not know what the right hand did... Was to have been not for XP Wave 3 users but it updated those machines as well!
    CustomComputers
    • RE: Microsoft's new Hotmail: Not a smooth transition for all

      @CustomComputers If it still does it, there is a way to turn it off. It does not start messenger automatically on my machine, either with the web app or Windows Live Mail.

      It does seem to me like it did, but apparently I found the option to turn it off, because it doesn't now.

      And you are correct, Messenger is very annoying when it starts unexpectedly.
      babyboomer57
  • Hotmail blues

    A perfect case in point of taking something simple, agile and effective, and mucking it up beyond belief. Staggers around more like a drunken sailor on extended shore leave these days.

    Can no one in the industry learn a thing from the premise and success of the Google portal?

    Gawd if only we could to go back a dozen years. :( Aye yea yea.
    klumper