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Are forced upgrades a bad thing?

Like Hotmail users, sometimes you have no choice but to upgrade. Sometimes that’s ok, sometimes not. But you should expect it.

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This is Leo Notenboom for

One of the hotter topics I’m hearing about lately is the migration of MSN
Hotmail’s interface to the new “Windows Live Hotmail”. Same service, same
email, but a different user interface. From what I can tell Hotmail is
migrating users over to the new interface whether they want it or not. For a
while, particularly during Windows Live Hotmail beta, there was an option to
revert back to the old interface, but that’s apparently disappeared for most

It’s fairly clear that the old “MSN Hotmail” user interface will someday
soon be a thing of the past. “Windows Live Hotmail” is the future.

And of course, that upsets some people who find the old user interface more
intuitive, easier to use, or who just don’t want to learn a slightly new way of
doing things. It doesn’t help that some features of the old interface are
either not present in the new, or are very well hidden.

“… if you don’t like the new user interface, use this
as an opportunity to take your business elsewhere.”

My reaction, of course, is that if you don’t like the new user interface,
use this as an opportunity to take your business elsewhere. In fact,
particularly since it’s a free service, that’s about the only leverage you
have. Go get a GMail or Yahoo email account, or better yet, use this as an
opportunity to get a real email account and start using a PC-based email
program to manage your email. The list of choices is long, and after the
initial transition in the long run you’ll likely be much happier.

The question, though, is this: is forcing you to upgrade a bad thing?

In my opinion, usually not. Particularly for web-based services, improvements
should be getting made all the time, and you should absolutely expect things to
change. And doubly so for free services. Sometimes it’ll happen slowly and
sometimes more dramatically. The fact that Hotmail might have both old and new
user interfaces available for a while is nice and all, but it’s a costly
support burden for a service that, quite frankly, you’re not paying for. I’d
certainly expect the old interface to disappear.

Now, you don’t always have to change, at least not for some things – I know
of folks who are happily running desktop email programs nearly a decade old. To
a large degree you can control what you put on your desktop. But when it comes
to web-based email services – or almost any web based service – expect it to
change. In fact, I’d start to worry if it never changed, wondering if the
service wasn’t doing very well.

I’d love to hear what you think. Visit and enter 11822 in the go
to article number box to access the show notes, the transcript and to leave me
a comment. While you’re there, browse over 1,200 technical questions and
answers on the site.

Till next time, I’m Leo Notenboom, for

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5 comments on “Are forced upgrades a bad thing?”

  1. The worst is when you paid for a software and a few months later an upgrade comes out.. Now you have to pay again to get the upgrade because the older version loses support…. Bastards know how to get ya!

  2. Where it’s really bad is when you’re being forced to pay for an upgrade that contains important bugfixes and security patches.

    It’s a sad fact about the world of software that vendors can put out a defective product and then make you pay for them to repair the defects.

  3. I upgraded to Live Hotmail early on and there were problems, e.g. only the first page would print. I don’t know if it has been fixed yet. You disparage Web based, but I use it for security reasons: only the stuff I really want gets downloaded. Although I save lots of stuff in the folders for convenience as history, nothing is that vital. Again if it is I download it.

  4. Rec’d notice from MS that they will convert my hotmail and msn premium (PAID) account in next two weeks if I don’t convert NOW! MSN was forced on me as part of a Quest bundle. I will download their LIVE mail program on to experimental Vista machine but not on three important computers. Don’t like M$ and do not trust M$.

  5. Concerning MSN and “forced upgrades”. What you aren’t recognizing is that MSN is pulling the plug on its “Premium Browser” and giving us crap.
    If you sign up for service from QWEST you are given MSN as your premium browser LIVE does not Qualify.
    As much as you may love “LIVE” I find it annoying because of the lack of ability to turn of the annoying crap by the user. What annoyances?? MSN messenger constantly signing you in even when you have set all the preferences to not sign in.
    “Quick Add” the space gobbler that does nothing but promote MS garbage that I don’t use … the old MSN version has something useful “contacts”.
    The (as I call it) “Network Nag” every time you send an email with LIVE up pops the NAG to ask you if you want to include this person in you network… MS give you no expanation of what it means, what does it expose you to or the people listed in your networks. and then there the New Help… IT states in the Hotmail Live help that MS understands that the user wants to fix their own problems so they basically bail on customer support and couldn’t care about the feedback about the bad choices they have made for the user.
    Windoze LIVE may be the future but only if they start listening!


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