back to article Admins accuse Microsoft of Draconian Hotmail cap

Life can be tough when you're one of the globe's biggest email providers. Just ask Hotmail. Users get upset enough when come-ons for Viagra slip through the cracks of the Microsoft-owned service. But there's just as much hell to pay when its war on spam snuffs out legitimate emails. In May, we reported on a proprietary …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    5gb mailbox

    The limit on hotmail is 50 recipeients last time i tried...well on 'Windows Live Hotmail' anyway....gota giv it to em tho...they quietly upgraded my mailbox size to 5GB! If this was google they wud be making a big deal about looks like Microsoft's going for the cool screw you google style!

  2. Tom Simnett
    Gates Horns

    552 Too many recipients?

    From the RFC:

    Errors due to exceeding these limits may be reported by using the

    reply codes. Some examples of reply codes are:

    500 Line too long.


    501 Path too long


    452 Too many recipients (see below)


    552 Too much mail data.

    Methinks even the error is being reported incorrectly. Come on Microsoft. Email has been a standard since before you even existed!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thunderbird? Forget it.

    If I try to send mail to Hotmail users from Thunderbird, they simply do not receive it, nor do I receive any error. If I resend the same mail from Outlook it reaches the users just fine.

    If you're a Hotmail user you should understand that you are losing legitimate email thanks to Microsoft's dubious, heavy-handed, enforced 'anti-spam' measures.

    I've created brand new test Hotmail accounts using random localparts - not guessable and completely unlikely to have ever been used before (eg s2f8du8xbgaaz@...). Some of them have started receiving spam within one minute of signing up (literally read the 1 new welcome email and deleted it, inbox refreshed, still with 1 new unread email now for pills). There was no malware or trojans or cross-scripting going on in these tests.

    Somehow, new accounts were being slurped off in places and put straight onto spam lists. On the other hand many of the test accounts never received a single piece of spam (my gut feeling was load-balancing and a publicly accessible weakness on some but not all of the relevant systems)

    As ever, Microsoft were not interested and didn't respond or else gave useless form responses. Their slapdash, heavy-handed approach in dealing with spam, and again in dealing with viruses via MSN, is an allegory for their sloppy attitude towards their users - mere fodder to drive the real revenue-making systems, treated with contempt and kept in the dark, or else kept dumb with marketing spin.

    It's not just a case of Hotmail being technically very poor as an email system these days - Microsoft frankly don't deserve that user base any more. They certainly haven't done anything great with Hotmail, and compared to other offerings it's piss-poor. Protecting us from evil spam by throwing half the email away isn't what we expect by "driving innovation".

  4. Jeremy
    Gates Horns

    Without looking it up.....

    ...isn't 552 supposed to be for 'Mailbox full' rather than 'We're being pissy so mailing list admins can bog off' ?

    Not at all like Microsoft to mangle a standard to their own design, huh?

  5. Alan Donaly
    Dead Vulture

    I stopped using them altogether

    About four years ago a high activity mailing list bounced a bunch of updates off them and closed my account in that case it was because mailman had stopped making allowances for ms-hotmail which insisted on it's own eccentricities and resulted in bounced emails so they canceled delivery to hotmail email addresses about 90 people I think we all went to Yahoo. Microsoft can't do anything by the book they always just expect everyone to make allowances it doesn't work in this case, it should never work. As to spam one a day from five million sources is still too many.

  6. David Wilkinson

    Thunderbird and Hotmail play nice

    I access hotmail exclusively via Thunderbird on a daily basis, sending and receiving.

    If you are having problems you probably need to update Thunderbird and your WebMail extension.

    BTW if they want to enact a policy like that, they should be open about it.

    Change add to the error message to say something like "do to a recent policy change...."

    Also is there a specific code for too many recipients? If not "too much mail data" might be the closest match.

  7. Andy Jones

    Ref: Thunderbird and Hotmail play nice

    To David Wilkinson,

    Maybe you should re-read Chris's post again. He is not talking about accessing a Hotmail account via Thunderbird but sending mail to Hotmail users via Thunderbird and these emails disappearing without trace.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reply to David Wilkinson

    ..."RFC 821 [30] incorrectly listed the error where an SMTP server

    exhausts its implementation limit on the number of RCPT commands

    ("too many recipients") as having reply code 552. The correct reply

    code for this condition is 452. Clients SHOULD treat a 552 code in

    this case as a temporary, rather than permanent, failure"...

    RFC 2821, Page 56. (

  9. Alastair Dodd

    Hotmail for a mailling list?

    Using that is just moronic. Mind you Hotmail is rubbish and has been for years - use a decent mail provider.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Working for me (sort of)

    I sent an email to a large group yesterday and didn't receive any overt errors. On the other hand, I recieved a larger than usual number of 'undeliverable' messages from hotmail addresses.

  11. pctechxp
    Gates Horns

    What can you expect

    from a free mail provider.

    I know at least one paid for provider that does an outstanding job of blocking spam and allows you to tune the spam protection, has proper AV and all for 20 quid a year.

    And having your own domain name looks so much more professional than a hotmail address, particularly on things like CVs.

  12. Richard Kay
    Thumb Down

    Hotmail do look after their customers

    Those who don't pay for their email are not Hotmail's customers. The attention of Hotmail users to advertising is the commodity which is sold to Hotmail's customers. The latter are those who pay for the right to spam Hotmail user with advertising messages.

    Those who want to be a commodity which is sold by the hour and by the million need look no further. Those who require a reliable mail delivery service have to go elsewhere. When Hotmail users on one of the double confirmation opt-in mailing lists I host complains to me about not getting messages which other list users receive (Hotmail are known to drop these silently with no rejection or bounce information) I have to advise them to find a reputable email provider.

  13. SpitefulGOD
    Gates Halo

    Blah Blah Blah

    If it offends you that much go get a different ISP, geeez, I have never had any problems with hotmail, it works better than Gmail & AOL in my opinion and suffers no more than any other mail provider when it comes to SPF filtered mail.

    P.S. Thunderbird is a shit client anyway, though I suppose it matches the whole (Linux/Mac/other obscure OS) experience.

  14. Chris Cheale

    WRT SpitefulGOD

    I think we need a "troll" icon.

  15. druck Silver badge


    A typical hotmail user if there ever was one, and exactly why no one should give a frig if mail doesn't gets through to them. Now if only Microsoft would block them from sending any mail, the world would be a better place.

  16. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Pay to play?

    While Microsoft could employ more sensible technical means for reducing spam to its users (such as rejecting SMTP connections outright from dynamic IP addresses) that will not generate additional revenue in the future. The size of the userbase is simply staggering: one list we manage with thousands of subscribers is at least one third hotmail/msn addresses and Microsoft's preferred approach seems to be to encourage people sending e-mail to sign up to an expensive marketing vetting service. I remember Bill Gates punting the idea of a 1 cent charge per e-mail a few years back and not getting anywhere but once they have enough users it might become feasible to implement something like this themselves. Faced with the choice of a small charge to inform prospective customers or to lose them outright I suspect many "information" providers might seriously consider paying.

    From a user's perspective: anyone who uses a "free service" should think carefully as to whether that isn't an oxymoron.

  17. Kevin Thomas



  18. Jon Green
    Thumb Down

    @Blah Blah Blah

    It's posts like that that make me long for those "Was this post useful to you?" dohickeys that other W2.0 systems use...

  19. vgrig

    That's what you get when you choose wrong tool for a job...

    Anyone remember leaked MS paper about hotmail's switchover from freeBSD to windows? "Eat your own dogfood" was the catch phrase - they're eating it indeed, having to reinvent the wheel just cause they can't use all those tools available for *nix

    Plus, MS is just very bad at doing email - always was, always will be. I mean, what - hotmail's postmasters never heard about greylisting?

  20. Bernadette Newburg
    IT Angle


    Embarq is ditching earthlink and starting up their own "free" email...which I refuse to use. Aside from the fact that switching for me is logistical nightmare (too many damned mailing lists, etc, plus I do all of my financial stuff online) they "inform" all of your contacts of the switch. Inform? How? I send them the address book or they just merrily rummage through my computer (like hell)? I would rather use Gates et al than subject myself to the idiocy of Embarq formerly Sprint, despite whatever inadequacies Hotmail may have. I won't use Gmail, not enough storage space (I keep too much stuff) so I may need to find another US based free email service if I don't win this war. I may own the equipment, but I don't pay the phone bill and we have no other high speed option. Any suggestions?

    PS - I use Thunderbird, and Firefox, almost exclusively. Except for one or two glitches in Thunderbird during an update, they've both worked fine. I'll probably go open source entirely when I finish with grad school, because they use MS based products almost exclusively, and I need to be compatible with them.

    PSS - I think the thing that looks like a hairdryer on Bill Gates' head is supposed to be a halo...

  21. Slaine
    Gates Horns

    @ druck

    I must assume therefore that I am NOT a TYPICAL hotmail user, and thank you very much for the compliment ;-)

    Regarding Hotmail, my account has been active now for about a decade, with the odd mishap here and there. My main gripe to date is the fact that, no matter how many times I set up a friend's "supanet" email address, m1cr05h4ft, for their own reasons, ALWAYS put his emails in the junk folder.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Microsoft war with ISP

    I am from MO and I can send only 1 email to a hotmail or msn addy and Microsoft will kick it back. I have now sent a letter and complaint form to the Attorney General of MO, and have the email address for the VP of custermer service at Microsoft, whom I will keep bugging until this stops! His name is Mr. Kaplan and his email address is: for anyone who would like to also give him a piece of your mind. Why should anyone have to change their addresses because these jerks think they are so high and mighty. After all didn't we all pay for the products to begin with and expect them to work when we set them up. Besides we would have to call everyone on our email list to tell them of the problem if we want to ask them to change their addresses. Do we all have that kind of time?? I don't.......Signed...Fed up in Missouri

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