This morning, I opened up my email, as per my usual routine, and my MSN mail account had an email from Microsoft. Normally, I browse those emails for a quick delete. Usually, they are trying to sell me an upgrade. This morning, however, I decided to open the email because a couple of week's ago their service stopped working for me with no explanation. I sent them an email. The service began working again 2 days later, but I never received a reply to my email. Thanks for the customer service, MSN! *shrugs*
Instead of finding some sort of explanation or an upgrade offer, this email contained an extortion letter. Basically, MSN and Hotmail are discontinuing POP3 service for any new accounts opened with them. This means that users who open any new accounts - it doesn't matter if you already have an account and open a new one - will not be able to use either Outlook or Outlook Express to read their mail. Instead, they will be forced to use the web interface OR, and here is where the extortion comes in, subscribe to Outlook online (for the low, low price of only $59.95, but wait! There's more! If you're an existing MSN or Hotmail customer, then you'll be able to subscribe, for a limited time only, to Outlook online for only $44.95. That's a savings of 25%. Can you believe that?!! What a deal!).
Why is this extortion? Well, this line should explain it:
As an Outlook Live subscriber, not only can you get uninterrupted access to your MSN e-mail accounts from Outlook, but you will also enjoy many other benefits.
The implication being that if I subscribe, I'll get uninterrupted service, but should I choose not to subscribe, then my service may be interrupted. So, let me get this straight, Microsoft: One of the reasons that I bought and use your mail software, Outlook (not Outlook Express, mind you, but the big mutha), was because it allows me to connect to my Hotmail and MSN accounts in an interface that also allows me to connect to my other mail accounts. Now you're suggesting that I purchase another version of Outlook in order to continue receiving this service? Oh, and for the record, I bought this as part of your Office Suite of products. The price for "upgrading" my Office Suite is no small matter. If you block my access to my MSN and/or Hotmail accounts because I need to buy yet another version of Outlook, then what is my incentive during the next upgrade NOT to switch to StarOffice or OpenOffice?!!?
Hey, and while I'm at it, one of the accounts I currently look at with my copy of Outlook is a Google mail account (gmail). They don't offer as much storage or throughput, but let me tell ya, it's more than I had a year ago. Plus, their banner ads are not intrusive in the least. In fact, I like their service a lot. What's the incentive to prevent me from switching to an open source client, say, um, Thunderbird (which is very nice, thank you) and taking my paid (yes, PAID) Hotmail business and my MSN account over to GMail and Thunderbird? I've owned the same Hotmail addy since 1996 - before Microsoft owned Hotmail, but I'm more than willing to toss it aside and switch my subscriptions over if you threaten, yes - threaten, my user habits with denying my Outlook access.
To make matters worse for you, Microsoft, I've been in the process of building a new PC for my home. Despite the fact that my partner works for your company, I've been wondering if I actually want to invest in a copy of the Office Suite, including Outlook. I mean, even though she gets a BIG discount at the company store, I've been wondering whether or not the other office products mentioned above might be worth a look. Of course, until today, I've had no great motivating factor to seriously consider switching. It was, until I received your email, just idle speculation. Now, you've provided me with a serious reason to consider switching. I suppose Sun and OpenOffice should send you a box of chocolates as a thank you.
Yea, I'm ticked.