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Outlook Express access to Hotmail is being phased out, as is Outlook Express itself. We'll look at alternatives.
I am an avid Outlook Express user. I love it. I really like the IMAP feature of accessing Hotmail from various computers, plus it grabs my POP accounts quickly and easily. Recently, I got the message below from Microsoft.
"As a valued customer, we want to provide advanced notice that as of June 30, 2008, Microsoft is disabling the DAV protocol and you will no longer be able to access your Hotmail Inbox via Outlook Express. As an alternative, we recommend that you download Windows Live Mail, a free desktop e-mail client that has the familiarity of Outlook Express and much more. This next generation of free e-mail software will allow you to easily manage multiple e-mail accounts, including Windows Live Hotmail, plus other e-mail accounts that support POP3/IMAP. Better yet, Windows Live Mail integrates well with other Windows Live services, and downloads in minutes. After you provide your user name and password, you will automatically be linked to your Hotmail account, providing continued access to your email and contacts."
I tried their "Live Mail", but it's horribly slow and nowhere as easy to use as OE. Please help!
This has actually been happening slowly over the past couple of years. Microsoft is phasing out not only Hotmail access in Outlook Express, but they're phasing out Outlook Express itself.
In other words, the news is not good for all those folks who want to keep using Outlook Express to manage their Hotmail.
Let's look at your alternatives.
Web Interface: Hotmail is, and always has been a web based email service first. That's its original claim to fame, even before Microsoft purchased it. Aside from service problems it's the web interface that will likely always be Hotmail's #1 priority.
When you think about it, it sort of makes sense. Hotmail is free, but the service costs a tremendous amount of money to run, so how does that all get paid for? Advertising. Advertising you only see when you use the web interface. Anything else Hotmail elects to support, or not support, is totally up to them, and it's unlikely that they're going to make major efforts to support scenarios that don't allow the service to pay for itself.
Windows Live Mail: I know you don't like it, but you might want to consider getting used to it anyway. You won't find Outlook Express in Windows Vista, for example and many people complain that Windows Mail, while similar, isn't quite similar enough. You can download Windows Live Mail now, and know that it, or subsequent versions of it, will continue to work, and run on Vista as well.
Now, in light of the advertising argument I made above, you might ask doesn't this also circumvent their ability to display ads? Yes, it apparently does. But they seem to be willing to make that tradeoff in order to get you to use their product, Windows Live Mail.
Microsoft Office Outlook: The only other supported approach to accessing our Hotmail using a desktop mail program is to download and install the Microsoft Office Outlook Connector which then adds support for accessing Hotmail through Microsoft Outlook.
Unofficial Alternatives for Thunderbird: If you switch to using Thunderbird as your desktop email client, there is a Webmail extension that adds support for Hotmail, as well as other web-based email services, directly to Thunderbird. Thunderbird is a good email client - I use it myself - but it does mean switching from Outlook Express.
The other important point here is that this approach is not officially sanctioned or supported by Microsoft. Each time they make a change to Hotmail's communications protocols, the developers of the Webmail extension must reverse engineer it and provide an update.
Other Unofficial Alternatives: There are several, including applications that provide "POP3" access to Hotmail. There are three types of solutions.
The first uses software that runs on your desktop that "converts" your email programs POP3 (and SMTP) requests into Hotmail's private protocol, much like Thunderbird's Webmail extension. And much like that extension, if something changes then the service is broken until it's updated.
The second does the same, but rather than run software on your machine, the software runs on the provider's server. The downside, of course, is that they can see your Hotmail login information and all of your messages.
The third solution involves forwarding services. You give these services your Hotmail account information and they automatically forward your mail to a different email account you specify. The problem? You give them your Hotmail account information.
(Hotmail does allow you to forward your email to another account natively, but I'm hearing that it doesn't work for everyone. You might look into that, though, as an official solution if forwarding would be acceptable.)
Ultimately, I have not found any of these other unofficial alternatives that I would recommend, or even suggest trying. They're simply too risky, and in some cases, too fragile and prone to having issues.
Quit Using Hotmail: Naturally, with all the limitations placed on you by Hotmail, along with all of the problem reports I continue to get, leaving Hotmail and moving to an email provider that actually supports what you want is also worth some serious consideration.
My suggestions? In order of preference:
Leave Hotmail for a service that does what you want. (GMail is a good alternative in the free email space.)
Learn to live with Windows Live Mail for an official solution.
Switch to Thunderbird using the Webmail extension for an unofficial solution.
I know that none of these are exactly what you want, but exactly what you want doesn't seem to be in the cards.
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