Hotmail Not So Hot

Not too long ago, the HoTMaiL phenomena managed to get millions of users to signup for a web-based email account. This popular service was designed to work in any browser, and it essentially solved the problem many users had when switching ISP’s. Flash-forward a few years, and this has since transformed into Microsoft Windows Live Hotmail and undergone a complete transformation.

During that time, the Windows browser has gone from a dominant marketshare to a virtual split for first place. Currently, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has a cumulative market share of approximately 50% while Firefox now has around 40% of the browser client market. This means that Microsoft needs to be increasingly sensitive to the nuances of at least these two web browsers, so one would expect Live Hotmail to behave fairly well on the extremely popular Firefox.

Not so fast.

One of the first things you will encounter is an annoying reminder that you need to update to the latest version of Firefox even if you are already running the latest version. Fortunately, you can easily get past that by clicking to proceed anyway and at first glance everything appears to be working.

Fortunately, the solution is quite straightforward. Signup for GMail.

Your next impediment might be a little more challenging, the message entry box appears to be grayed out and you cannot apply focus to this so that you might begin typing an email message. Fortunately, this can also be worked around by installing the Firefox User Agent Switcher and pretending to be Safari on the Mac.

The next problem might surface when you attempt to use the Attach option, at which point the Hotmail site will do nothing.

All of these difficulties seemed to coincide with the September 2008 update for the site, at which point Microsoft proudly announced the Classic and Full versions had been united:

Our clever developers figured out how to take the performance of the Classic version of Hotmail, and combine it with features of the Full version, in a single experience. Now everyone gets the same features.

In reality, Microsoft has deprecated the Classic interface in favor of a richer “Full” version. While the enhanced Hotmail version isn’t nearly as slow as the torpid Yahoo! Mail, it suffers from these interface bugs that make it virtually impossible to use.

Fortunately, the solution is quite straightforward.

  1. Signup for GMail. Visit Google and create a GMail account for yourself.
  2. Forward Hotmail to GMail. Signup with IzyMail and configure your Hotmail as a POP account. Logon to your GMail account and add a POP account that points to the IzyMail host to receive all your Hotmail.
  3. Export Contact List. From Hotmail, export your Contacts to a CSV. This is easily imported into your GMail address book.
  4. Copy Saved Email. Using Outlook Express, create a Hotmail inbox and also setup an IMAP connection to your GMail account. Copy all your Hotmail folders to GMail.

That’s it! Now your email to Hotmail is being routed into your GMail inbox. You have kept all of your contacts and any historical messages you might have. Best of all, your web browser will let you write email messages and create attachments without having to unearth a Windows computer running IE.