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Hotmail only moves forward! If you don't like their service, there ARE alternatives!

Hotmail now has made another "improvement" and messed up our contacts list. Oodles of complaints have been sent to Hotmail's help site. Some of us cannot access our contact list at all. Some of us cannot add names to our contact list. Some of us cannot add names to a particular category of our contact list. The solutions that they offer do not work as shown by the myriad of responses of users. Most say that they will change to another email provider. Do you know what's going on and would Hotmail listen and get back to its former working method?

In this excerpt from Answercast #50, I look at the possibility that Hotmail might roll back recent updates and go back to an old version.

Hotmail improvements

I don't have a solution for this particular problem. I do not know what's going on... in the specific sense of what's going on with contacts.

I will say this: my experience with Hotmail (in the last nine years that I've been doing this) tells me a couple of things:

  • One is no, they're not gonna move backwards.

  • Hotmail only moves forwards.

They will fix things... eventually. Typically not as quickly as people would like. But when something is this broken... if it's because of a feature addition or because of a change that Hotmail is making as they move forward, they're not gonna roll back:

  • They're not going go back to a previous version of Hotmail.

  • They're not going go back to previous versions of the contacts list.

So, my expectation is that the problem you're experiencing will eventually be fixed. But it will be fixed in the context of continuing to move Hotmail forward with whatever new features and new user interface that they're planning on providing.

You get what you pay for...

Now, ultimately, I have to point out that Hotmail is a free service... and you are getting exactly what you paid for in terms of customer service. Nothing.

That means that, while you can be concerned and report these issues to Hotmail support, ultimately they have no real responsibility to resolve the issues for you. You're not paying anything!

I would guarantee you that the "Terms of Service" that you agreed to many, many years ago probably called this kind of stuff out explicitly... that says:

  • Ultimately, they have no responsibility for anything,

  • And that the service doesn't even need to work.

So ultimately, I think that many of the people who are moving to other email services actually have the right idea. If you're not happy with the free email service provided, that you're using, then by all means, find another one.

Alternate email services

I've got articles on Gmail, which is the free service I recommend these days. I have articles on what "for pay" email providers you might want to consider simply because they have kind-of a responsibility to make things work for you; given that you're paying them money every month. But there are various alternatives.

There are so many alternatives to Hotmail that I really don't see there being an incredible need for people to remain as frustrated as they are with any email provider. Any email provider may end up having frustrated users. But since it's free, that's kind of what you get.

It's a good idea to consider some of the alternative providers that are out there to see which ones will or won't work for you.

Download your Hotmail

Now, I do want to point out one other thing and that is that Hotmail can be accessed using an email program, like Thunderbird.

That is one way that would isolate you from Hotmail's user interface... by having that user interface be that of an email program running on your PC.

Again, that's a different change:

  • It's a more significant change as to how you might use your email;

  • But it is one way to isolate you from the various changes that Hotmail typically does make to the user interface as they move forward in time.

How you move forward

So, that's my recommendation:

  1. Definitely continue to report the problem to Hotmail customer support.

They do need to know about it and I do believe that they will eventually fix it. It's not just the kind of a thing that gets fixed overnight or as quickly as most people would want.

If that's a problem, if Hotmail is continually frustrating you, life is too short to be frustrated:

  1. Find another email provider that works for you.

If you don't want to lose your address:

  1. Consider using an offline or PC based email program like Thunderbird or Outlook.

That's one way that will isolate you from these random user interface changes and also allow you to control your own contact list on your own PC.


Finally, I have to say since you're using Hotmail, a free email service, please, please, please back that thing up.

Download your contacts. Download your email one way or another so that if the worst happens and Hotmail really screws it up or your account gets hacked or something else happens, you don't lose any of your important data; you don't lose any of your important contacts.

End of Answercast #50 Back to - Audio Segment

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If you take away only one lesson from anything I ever say, please let it be about backing up. It comes up in every AnswerCast as an answer to somebody.

Nothing can save you from almost any disaster like a proper and recent backup.

Please do realize that all answers are based on my own personal experience and should be used entirely at your own risk. I don't know you, your abilities or the specifics of your machine and those kinds of details can make all the difference.

The Ask Leo! AnswerCast is a production of Ask Leo! and is copyright 2012. Thanks for listening. I'm Leo Notenboom and I'll be back soon with another Ask Leo! AnswerCast.

Article C5783 - September 6, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

AG Wright
September 6, 2012 12:22 PM

What about checking Hotmail with Gmail? Haven't tried it but I use Gmail to check my mail from my old ISP so I can get their better Spam protection.

Ed Boyd
September 7, 2012 8:26 AM

One way that I have used to keep continuity in my emails is that I got my own domain name at Go Daddy and set email up there. The cost is really chump change. I can't remember exactly but you can afford it! Then whenever I use email, my email address is always All the email is run through Go Daddy and I have Go Daddy forward to whatever email system I'm using. I don't like Go Daddy's email might? I use Hotmail/Win Live and have most of my mail forwarded there with "have email copies retained on Go Daddy!" That way you use what you want and also backup emails at the same time. Go Daddy has been very reliable. I go in there and weed out most of the junk every once in awhile. It's a great solution.

I strongly recommend this approach in general. My email addresses on my own domains, for example, happen to run through Gmail. if Gmail ever breaks, goes away or pisses me off, I just change to use some other service, but my email address on my own domain never changes.

September 7, 2012 9:30 AM

Microsoft is gradually phasing out hotmail and going to and is in the process of replacing it with Outlook.

September 10, 2012 7:33 AM

Perhaps the uptake of is not as great as Microsoft wanted. Maybe they broke it on purpose?

Ed Boyd
September 10, 2012 1:52 PM

Sep 10, 2012 "GoDaddy says sites are down; hacker claims responsibility." So much for my recomending Go Daddy's reliability!?!

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