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Users Being Migrated To New Version of Hotmail 215

An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft has started work on migrating Hotmail users to a new version after testing the new system on select customers for almost two years. Microsoft stated in the article that more than 20 million users provided feedback to the new-look Hotmail. 'For now, Microsoft will give Hotmail users the option to continue using the old version if they don't want to switch to the upgraded version. However, at some point, everyone will be unilaterally migrated over to Windows Live Hotmail ... New users will be automatically signed up for Windows Live Hotmail but, like any user of the new service, they will get to choose from two user interfaces: a "classic" layout that closely resembles the old Hotmail; or the new interface, which was designed to look like Microsoft's Outlook e-mail and calendaring desktop application.'"
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Users Being Migrated To New Version of Hotmail

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  • by hudsonhawk ( 148194 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @12:43PM (#19038531)
    ...and none of them asked for a "Mark as read" button?
  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @12:46PM (#19038583) Journal
    Two years ago, the company I work for began offering MS Outlook through the web to employees. At first I was skeptical, I didn't think it would be that useful. But, a year after that, it was seriously fully functional Outlook over a website. I also use Hotmail for my personal life and had wondered why in the hell Microsoft didn't apply the same great ideas from the web-based Outlook client to their Hotmail site. I don't think my company would drop its control of its Exchange Servers if Hotmail offered the same look and feel. I didn't think Microsoft would lose any business at all but they would have cornered the market in e-mail.

    Sometime between a year ago and today, it's become fully compliant with Firefox 2.0--I'm pretty impressed and actually don't mind using web-based Outlook when I'm out of the office.

    Why did Microsoft sit on their hands as Google slowly built up their capabilities to match those of Outlook? Why didn't Microsoft work on porting what they had done for Outlook to their Hotmail servers? I guess server load could always be the answer to those questions but I'm starting to think that Microsoft thought Hotmail would always be number one in personal e-mail. Thankfully, it looks like the competition is putting the pressure on them to improve their service.

    I used this tool two years ago, way to drop the ball, Microsoft. You could have beat Google to a calendar application and solidified Hotmail.
  • by EvilEddie ( 243404 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @12:47PM (#19038613) Homepage
    Too little too and yahoo mail must have stole alot of market share.
  • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @12:52PM (#19038677) Homepage
    I don't think that Hotmail was ever number 1 in online email. I think the only reason that anybody signed up was because they wanted to use MSN messenger, and it's extremely hard for most people to figure out that you can use a non-hotmail address, let alone figuring out the process for actually doing so. I've always found their spam filtering, amount of space (2 MB up until google's huge storage made them upgrade it) , and entire interface to be lacking. The biggest missing feature is an option to "Mark as read" as another poster pointed out. The only reason so many people have signed up, is because they think it's the only way to get on MSN Messenger.
  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) * on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @12:53PM (#19038685)
    I havent seen a hotmail account in ages. They seem more rare then emails. The bulk of emails I have seen are either or
  • pocket msn (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BewireNomali ( 618969 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @12:55PM (#19038699)
    i was part of the beta. seamless integration with windows mobile is the killer feature for me. i've had my motorola Q for about 8 months and i've needed to log into pocket msn twice (because I switched from original battery to extended life). mail is pushed to my phone and I get IMs etc. - as well as Live Search/Maps etc out of the box. I can honestly say that - having both a gmail account and live hotmail account - that gmail is down way more - which - coupled with the fact that I do most of my emailing and IMing from my mobile unit - have caused me to migrate back to being a dual user from being a gmail user exclusively for a while. i can imagine some of gmails problems are because of scale - so it'll be interesting to see how hotmail reacts when the service is sufficiently wide to test infrastructure.
  • by pilgrim23 ( 716938 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @01:08PM (#19038873)
    I currently have some 8 or so email addresses. One of these is Hotmail. One is Yahoo, I also use Eudora, Outlook, and Macintosh Mail. Oh, and Pine and elm on two systems. To me interface is just eye candy. I DON'T CARE what Hollyweird scandal, or flashing ad for a airline ticket/ car/ toothpaste/, is displayed next to some email that is an advert for Nigerian investments (that is as valid as the ads/articles) -which is what 90% of my Hotmail contains..
    I also do not try to juggle my life via some online calendar that can crash/die and leave me all a twitter where I am suposed to be at 10:00.

    Mail is mail. you toss the junk mail, you read the interesting stuff, grimace at the bills, and rememeber you need to send that birthday card to Mom.
    Online is no different then the paper kind. Hotmail's change of interface is like when the Electric company changed to smaller envelopes (and didn't bother to adjust their sorting machines). Better eye candy means more annoyance, Big Deal, Somehow, in spite of it, I supose I can still delete the spam. Thanks Microsoft for all the improvements.
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @01:32PM (#19039251)

    Right click and hit "Mark as Read"

    The fact that there is a mechanism for this does not refute the previous poster's point. Right-clicking should never, ever be the only way to get to some functionality. I'm not sure I've ever seen a interface design or usability book that did not mention this. I think even MS's own UI design guidelines mention it. Right-clciking and selecting a menu option is a lot slower and less learnable than a button, but aside from that the important thing is relying upon multiple buttons breaks the interface for a wide variety of alternative input methods. Try doing that using a screen reader for the blind, or a stylus on a tablet, or even using MS's own voice recognition interface. Try it on a touch screen kiosk, using a control stick for people with palsey, or using a browser that does not support that function for one reason or another.

    When people are lower level developers and don't have any real UI training and are creating an application for internal use or for a special purpose with limited audience, I can forgive this sort of thing. When one of the largest software development houses on the planet does it for a program they plan to roll to millions of the general public it is just fucking absurd. I want to know. Where does MS hire their UI people and why can't they manage to avoid basic mistakes that have been known to the industry for decades now?

  • by joconor ( 889441 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @02:38PM (#19040359)
    This illustrates how Microsoft has taken User Interface development down a very bad path.

    The original Mac OS UI standardized on a single location to find actions: The Menu Bar. Whatever you had to do, you knew where to look. This was in direct contrast to command line applications where you either had to keep the commands in your head, or look them up in documentation. Now, we have a proliferation of places to look for actions in a graphical interface: Menu Bar, multiple Toolbars, contextual menus, etc. This proliferation of places to look for actions is leading to greater UI confusion, and back to the UI problem of command line applications, as evidenced by the poster who didn't realize there was a way to mark an email as 'read' in the new Hotmail. The graphical interface is supposed to show you what you can do, you're not supposed to have to 'just know'. I find contextual menus particularly egregious, as there is no 'affordance' to indicate to the user that there's anything to look for. Does one just randomly right-click on everything to see if it has a contextual menu associated with it? Bah. UI design at its worst.

    Unfortunately, due to the monopoly position of Windows, even the Mac OS has been forced to go down this path of providing toolbars and contextual menus. One mitigating trend I've observed in some (not all) Macintosh software is the use of contextual menus to duplicate operations presented in the menu bar.

    UI design needs to return to a single canonical location to find operations (the Menu Bar). If UI designers want to use Toolbars and contextual menus, use them only as shortcuts for operations that are already presented in the Menu Bar.

  • by SleepyHappyDoc ( 813919 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @03:06PM (#19040869)
    Is that graph measured in 'millions of unique spammers'?
  • by A_Non_Moose ( 413034 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @03:10PM (#19040919) Homepage Journal

    Does anyone have any other comparative features or info or corrections for the above list?

    Only got my gmail account now (webmail wise) and haven't had hotmail for about a year.

    Spam: Gmail doesn't spam like hotmail does, IIRC. Hotmail announcements and crap like that you can't block.
    I mean, really. I don't give a fuck, and don't wanna see that trash. I think I had a filter that moved them
    to trash, but sometimes they'd still be in the inbox for one reason or another.

    Uptime/Access: Main reason I don't have hotmail is I checked it once every 3 weeks, and hit the "system down
    for maint" blather several times over the past several years (can't recall how long I had it, but I hated
    the interface after MS's purchase...that's how long). All it took was forgetting for 30.1 days, and all the
    mail was gone and account still active. You gotta be kidding me...fucking assholes.
    Gmail, IIRC, allows for 9months before action such as above. 30days vs 9months.

    (Is it odd that I just now notice MS's time frame is a menstrual cycle, and Gmails is a human's gestation
    cycle? Oddly says a lot about MS Hotmail, doesn't it? Considering how often MS is plugging holes...ok
    I'll stop now)

    Folders vs tagging/labels/conversations: Personally I'd like folders in gmail, to sort conversations in a less
    confusing way...heck I had to explain to a gmail user how to use "conversations/threads/whatever they call them"
    a while back...they're like folders, but they're not. Say you have a few listservs that you pay attention to.
    Seperate folders for each vs "listserv tag(s)". IIRC, you can make subfolders, but not sub"tags" say for
    win/lin administration. Folders are easy for sorting, not so much filtering, but the opposite is true for
    labels/convo's (IOW "thread view").
    All 3 together would rock the email world, I think.

    Easy way to archive: Gmail wins, IMO. Pop, Thunderbird and (text).mbx format vs OE integration/tricks and outlook's binary format (not easily shifted to other clients).
    See uptime/access time; granted I didn't lose anything I would miss terribly (now ex-gf's email included, for
    amusement only/reminder/spank bank material) but the principle of the thing; Short sighted, tight fisted,
    unyielding rules they'll blast your mail away in a heartbeat, vs 3/4 of a year? If you can't think to
    check email more than once every 3/4 of a year, stick with snail mail and DVD/USB thru the post.

    Prestiege/Spam(again): No kidding, the gmail invites *increased* the desire and heightend the profile.
    Hotmail, in addition to spamming itself was spamming everyone else and the spam was increased by the
    likes of aol/yahoo/msn and such. Before spam filtering in hotmail was added (much less worth a damn)
    the first thing I did was use the regular filters to send *, * and * and
    the like to the spam, and then whitelist the one or two people with those addresses that I'd care
    to hear from.

    It all comes down to what if I lost my account for either?

    Hotmail: Mumbled "Fucking assholes" and moved on, not even bothering to reinstate the account/name.

    Gmail: Would not be happy, but would think similar to what I stated above. MY FAULT for waiting more than
    3/4 of a year, barring coma, abduction, or being stuck on an island with a bunch of fedex packages, there'd
    be no excuse that would not sound hollow.
  • by 3choTh1s ( 972379 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @03:11PM (#19040947)

    Right-clicking should never, ever be the only way to get to some functionality.
    Bullshiz. Lets just use Live Hotmail as an example. I've been a beta tester for it since a month after beta testing started. I've asked for a lot of things and each time after the next revision I got them(after of course they started supporting firefox). Not bad in my opinion. But the one thing I didn't ask for was "Mark as read." I have literally used that function twice in my life. And never in Hotmail/Live Hotmail. So lets just say that a good majority of people are like me and use that function only a little in their lives. Should we clutter up a interface just so that we have a function that we will only use twice a year? How about "Use as template" or "Add sender to Contact List." I'm sure there is no end to the buttons you could add to a interface but having the context menu for little used items are fine.

    Btw. If you switch the interface to "Classic" the Mark As Read buttons are placed up in the toolbar , obviously since you can't use the right mouse button. Good enough for those other cases when you don't have a choice in the matter.
  • by massysett ( 910130 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @03:24PM (#19041199) Homepage
    Yeah, they're competing on features, but I think Google realized something entirely different. Yahoo and MS were in the business of extracting cash from the user base. That's why they charged for disk space upgrades, extra filters, POP access, and so forth.

    Google realized they're in the business of extracting cash from advertisers. To do that, Google mines data. They scan emails and search for patterns so they can sell ads to those who are most likely to want to see them. In order to mine this data, it benefits Google if they see as much email as they possibly can. I think that's what explains the original 1GB size limit while others were doling out a measly 2-4MB: with all that space, you're encouraged to horde mail, and Google is free to mine information from it.

    Same goes for your mail forwarding. Google sees every single message that is forwarded through their servers. They can keep that data and use it for marketing. Even if you're not using Gmail and seeing those ads, they might one day use that data to give you ads in another context.

    Perhaps this is not a bad bargain, but few seem to realize that Google's goals are not altruistic here.
  • What's wrong with contextual menus? I think they're completely straightforward with "manipulate the object I'm clicking on" functions. Right click on a web page, and you get options relating to the web page. Right click on a graphic, and you get options relating to the graphic. Right click on highlighted text, and you get options relating to that text.

    Everything has its place:

    Menu bars: Control this application.
    Contextual menus: Control this object.
    Toolbars: Quick access to commonly used functions (almost always redundant with the other two).

    I can't find anything wrong with that at all, as long as you grasp the application/object difference.
  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @04:03PM (#19041929) Journal
    Right-clciking and selecting a menu option is a lot slower and less learnable than a button

    I don't buy that. Context menus allow you to pare down the available functions to what's appropriate. Buttons are always there, so there's going to be a lot more of them, most of which are irrelevant. They could also be anywhere on your screen, a context menu is linear. So it's going to be a lot easier and faster to find the option on the context menu than pretty much anywhere else. As for less learnable, how do you even quantify that?
  • by vorpal22 ( 114901 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @04:22PM (#19042267) Homepage Journal
    I'm just baffled at how bad the design of the new Hotmail was done. For example, say I want to read a message in my junk folder. To do so, I click on the junk folder and select the message. This brings the header information onto the screen. A yellow bar at the top of the e-mail informs me:

    Messages in the Junk folder never get opened automatically.

    and invites me to click an "Open message" link to have the message load in full. I do so. This presents the message, but any links contained therein are disabled. This is indicated by another yellow bar at the top of the e-mail saying:

    Attachments, pictures, and links in this message have been blocked for your safety.

    with a link saying "Show content", which finally brings about the message how I desired it, which should have happened in the first place when I clicked on it.

    I don't like being treated like I'm a severely brain damaged five year old.

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