back to article Facebook fails webmail tests

Consumer organisation Which? reckons Facebook provides one of the worst free webmail services available. Researchers looked at seven different sites, including AOL and Excite for history fans. Microsoft's Windows Live Hotmail came out in top spot with an 83 per cent score. Researchers liked its 5GB of storage space and easy …


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  1. Lamont Cranston

    Facebook do email?

    That's news to me.

  2. HansG

    What utter sh***

    Being a self confessed Gmail fanboi, I must protest!

    The features suggested as being good about Hotmail are all included in Gmail and more. I don't understand how they justify them as making Hotmail "better".

    5GB of storage? Gmail is currently about 7GB (and counting....)

    "Group messages into conversations", errrr, yeah, OK

    Advertising is also, in my opinion, lesser in Gmail

    Just my thoughts anyway, the whole host of contacts, calendars, tasks also adds to the mix, but most likely not reviewed by Which?

    Google also recently announced that they were upping the limit places on the number of contacts you could store from 10,000 to 25,000, no idea how you could use that many though

    1. Ian Yates


      Have you used Hotmail?

      I'll confess I haven't, but from what I've heard from friends who do, the refresh a few months ago (teething problems aside) was remarkably good.

      Yes, they've "borrowed" features from Gmail (who borrowed them from lesser known services), but they've implemented them well (so I'm told).

      I don't use either, though I have accounts with each, but I'm tempted to fire them up and have a gander.

      If MS really have done something good, well done to them.

      1. Bilgepipe


        >>> If MS really have copied something good from someone else, well done to them.

        Fixed that for you.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Down


          Hotmail is still fecking awful. I use my hotmail address as a spam box for untrusting sites now. The whole thing is one sloppy behemoth of java script that, incidentally, only works properly all the time in IE.

          Hotmail is as bad as it has been for the past 5 or so years.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Advertizing? What advertizing?

      Haven't seen much of that kind of thing since I installed the adblock plus and blocksite addons on firefox.

      FTR, I wouldn't use MS-anything unless it was written in my job description, so cannot comment on Hotmail.

    3. Beatnyama


      and counting..?? Having an animated counter at the Gmail screen does not meaning they are actually increasing it.

      Besides that, self confessed Gmail lover

  3. Nazar
    Thumb Down

    Teh Title

    >Microsoft's Windows Live Hotmail came out in top spot with an 83 per cent score

    Stopped reading after this line....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Me too

      I stopped reading at "It actually feels like part of the operating system"

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gmail below Hotmail?

    Really? Perhaps its an 'IT Pro vs Average User' thing

    1. Little Poppet

      An ITPro vs Average user thing? Yes, probably


      You are most probably right, and by and large, most ITPro users are so stuck up their own ars*s, they are incapable of seeing how things really are!

      Everyone knows (except the IT fangirl) that it's the end users opinion that matters. As it is, Hotmail IS superior to Gmail - saying it isn't so, doesn't change that fact! lol... Also it would be well advised to open a new hotmail account and set it up properly like a good IT fangirl does normally and give it a try. :)

      For people who laud openness and the spirit of competition, I find it perculiar to see posts that are so closed and unwilling to change - even to the extent that they will refuse point blank to give something a try that has an M$ logo stuck onto it. lol...


  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just proves my theory...

    ....that Which is the last place you should go for consumer advice on technical issues.

    1. Elmer Phud

      Gave up some time back

      I gave up a while ago - it's often the small things that indicate they don't necessarily live on the same planet as the rest of us.

      They often seem to be very careful in selecting which products to test and overlook what people are already buying.

    2. PerlyKing

      Which? advice on technical issues

      They're quite good for inverse advice - when I bothered with Which? I'd go for the item with the lowest ease of use score ;-)

    3. Rob Davis

      Which should review things to *buy* - save u wasting money, not free webmail - try yourself!

      "....that Which is the last place you should go for consumer advice on technical issues."

      - this could be taken as a good thing or a bad thing. In the case of their marketing tagline is "the last place you want to go" - a savvy nod to the crticism they received as a high street chain but also meaning its where you will want to make your purchase - last - because you won't go to any place after doing that.

      If you get 5 seperate pieces of advice on something, does the position of each determine its value, not really.

      I do think this Which review wasn't a very useful review, especially given that the services are free - Which should be reviewing stuff you want to buy, i.e. help you spend your money.

    4. Reg Varney


      Why anyone bothers to keep quoting Which? surveys is beyond me - they are the most clueless consumer organisation in the face of the planet.

  6. Mark C Casey

    Hotmail better than gmail?

    Sure, if you love spam... And hate IMAP.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Just webmail?

    Isn't Facebook a complete and total FAIL anyway?

    <-- look, a joke icon. Yes. A joke.

  8. Andrew Jones 2

    I'd agree with that.

    I would most certainly agree with that - facebook mail has a number of things wrong with it.

    1) Chat and "email" are now the same thing!!

    2) Frequently Facebook doesn't tell you that you have a new message....... I find out days and days after someone sent me a message when I pop into the messaging bit looking for something and notice I have 3 or 4 messages marked in blue (unread) that I have not received any notifications for.

    I don't even get a gmail message or a notification on the Android app anymore either!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Which? run by idiots

    I signed up for the trial subscription, thinking that they could help me choose a washing machine. Then I saw that they'd reviewed no more than about 12 washing machines total, all of them old models that no one sells anymore. Wow thanks for nothing.

    So I had a look at their other product categories, all of them similarly hopeless. Low numbers of reviewed items, old models, shockingly low levels of detail or elaboration on any point "It's good because... our reviewer liked it" yeah whoever he is. (Considering you pay to see them, you might expect someone to put some effort in... I guess not).

    So I'm not really surprised at basic misunderstandings here, such as assuming that Facebook messages are a webmail service (might as well claim that this comments section is a webmail service), or failing to grasp the reasons why people would use Hushmail.

    £1 for the trial subscription, I might as well have shoved it up my ass.

    1. 88mm a.k.a. Minister for Misbehaviour

      Steel hinge & catch

      May I recommend a Miele. It is the only brand to my knowledge where the door release doesn't break after 12 months and require a teaspoon to open.

      1. Still Water
        Thumb Up


        Absolutely. Even people like Unilever use them for developing their washing powders as they hardly break down and are built like brick shithouses.

      2. The BigYin

        I have found...

        ...Indesit to be very good (just don't buy the cheapo models). Miele do have a good rep., as do Bosch.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          +1 for indesit

          They are, after all, made by Hoover, for which you'll pay another £200 for the 'hoover' logo on basically the same machine.

          Even our cheapo one (about £200 or less I think) bought when our first was born is still going strong, no repairs ever needed (yet). Considering its been on at least once almost every day since we bought it (about Aug 2006) thats not bad going.

          Who needs Which? when you have The Reg forum comments!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Not Hoover..

            Indesit are part of the same group as Hotpoint, not Hoover. Hoover and Candy are part of a group which is an entirely different business.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Thumb Up

              Beg y'pard

              Hotpoint it is (don't know why I thought Hoover). Argument about 'add £200' still applicable though!

      3. Magnus_Pym


        Love my Miele. As soon as I tried to pick the bloody thing up to get t over the threshold I knew it was better built than the rivals.

      4. PerlyKing

        Miele washing machines

        Just don't put a large single item in them. Ours has just broken for the second time in two years, once on a large dust sheet and once on a sleeping bag. They turned into unbalanced loads which have knackered something or other. And because they "don't break down" there are no independent technicians. Other than that, it's great!

    2. David Haworth 1

      Re: Which? run by Idiots

      > £1 for the trial subscription, I might as well have shoved it up my ass.

      Didn't you see the special report: "Which? Suppository"

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I would have thought

      That when you pay for reviews and consumer advice, you would want it to be up to date.

      Anybody can go online and get any number of reviews for a 3 year old product. It's somewhat more difficult when the product is brand new because all you get then is speculation and "reviews" from rabid fanbois who have either not seen the product at all, or who had only just finished unboxing it when they wrote the review. Not useful in my opinion. This is where a service like Which? should step in to help, but evidently, it doesn't (nor does it seem interested in doing so).

      To be fair to the rabid fanbois, "unboxings" are fairly useful to answer the age old question; "is that metal, or have they just photoshoped the cheap plastic to make it look like metal". Many products boast "metal construction/case" then they wonder why you're upset to find out that it's just grey plastic that will scratch and fade the second it's observed by human eyeballs.

      These are the sort of questions I want answered when I pay someone to review something. I don't really care about remedial advice and vague concepts that can be broadly applied to any product at all. It should be assumed that if the reader is planning on purchasing something, they already know what it does. Skip the foreplay and just tell us if it's good or not, and not 2 years after the fact when anybody who cares has already found out the hard way.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Which? Computing said: "It actually feels like part of the operating system. They also liked the way you can group messages into conversations. It said Hotmail's advertising is unobtrusive compared to rivals and it has good spam filters.

    Hotmail has a horrible interface and the adverts are in the way.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    It actually feels like part of the operating system.....

    Well that would depend which operating system you were using wouldn't it!!

    Typical Which

  12. Anonymous Coward


    That doesn't seem quite right, how exactly is Hotmail that far ahead? Gmail offers more storage, an easier (IMO) to use interface, effective spam filters, and minimal advertising. Hotmail doesn't even support IMAP, and even adds advertisements to your emails. Does feeling like part of the operating system apply to non-windows systems?

    1. Tim Bates

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      >Does feeling like part of the operating system apply to non-windows systems?

      Pretty sure it doesn't even apply to non-IE users, let alone non-Windows users. It all still looks like a crap website to me.

  13. Studley

    Hotmail: Unobtrustive advertising and good spam filters?


    (a) Hotmail has had a serious overhaul recently and has fixed what was previously its biggest flaws by a country mile


    (b) Which? Computing are shockingly underqualified.

    Gmail, of course, has 7GB of storage, an easy interface, it groups into conversations by default, advertising which can be hidden with even the simplest of adblockers, better spam filtering, and it has the added advantage of not having been cripplingly useless for the past 10 years.

  14. JDX Gold badge

    inability to receive mail from other accounts

    Seriously? SERIOUSLY?!

    No doubt most people will be too busy slagging MS to talk about FB, but seriously?

    1. Ian Yates

      Of course

      Why would they want you to leave the fb ecosystem?

      You have to admire their gall to call it "email".

  15. Silo Spen

    Hotmail - Really?!

    Really? It sucks ass for me. The JS they run for going back and forward is total pants.

  16. GeorgeTuk

    Really? Who did the research?

    I like GMail but understand this is personal preference it does the grouping they mention as thats how I use it, I have got 7.5GBs of storage.

    I also don't get the SPAM I do with my work testing email account (which has never been advertised and only used to bounce test our mail server). Its better than it used to be but far too many scammers get through!

    1. Havin_it

      Who did the research?

      No, Who is the president of China*. Which? did the research.

      (Or is it When? I forget)

      The one with the Little Red Book in the pocket, ta.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, right

    Hotmail _is_ a good spam filter, not _has_ a good spam filter. As long as you never bother signing in. But that's 'Which' for you. Do they do a periodical called 'Which' My Arse ?' Or is it just 'Which? Arse'

  18. Annihilator
    Paris Hilton

    Who knew?

    FB does webmail?? I had no idea.. But why you'd want to give them any more information about your social interactions, I don't know.

  19. poohbear

    all the advantages?

    Like, for example, making it much easier for the Spooks to get access to your mail without you knowing? (Let's ignore Echelon for the moment ...)

  20. Elmer Phud

    Which planet are Which? on?

    Since when has Facebook been seen as doing webmail?

    I've got several webmail accounts and I've got a Facebook account.

    Facebook requires an existing email address - I've not been offered one with '@facebook' or anything similar.

    Next -- 'Bloggers are highly experienced social commentators' ?

    Which? has been losing its way for some time now.

    1. John Burton

      Quite a few don't seem to know...

      A few people saying that facebook doesn't do email...

      Yes it does. You'll have been asked to choose a page name for your pages. Then you can just email and it works,.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      You fail at googling;

      1. Elmer Phud

        there is one?

        Thanks for that - still won't use it.

        I don't remember being told there was one available when I got a FB account. It's secondary to having a FB account rather than needing one to do anything else on FB.

        Not surprising I missed it then, they don't seem to punt themselves as a major email provider.

        I don't think I need to use it unless I want to pose as a clueless clicker ;-)

        1. Anonymous Coward


          To pose?

  21. Skippy


    "It actually feels like part of the operating system"

    Really? I'm not sure what OS which use, but I really hope I never have to experience an OS like that.

  22. mt_head

    Hotmail wins? I don't think so!

    I've had a Hotmail account for years and years, and I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread... until Gmail rolled out.

    The researchers cite four quantifiable features (I don't know what to do with "it feels like part of the operating system", except perhaps shake my head in disbelief.)

    - 5GB of storage. First of all, Gmail rolled out with 1.5-2GB of storage when Hotmail offered 100MB; second, as I write this my Gmail account has 7.5GB.

    - Messages grouped into conversations - Gmail had this feature first, and Hotmail still doesn't do it very well. In fact, this was the first thing I loved about Gmail.

    - Unobtrusive ads, my Aunt Fanny! If I turn off Adblock, Hotmail has a giant flashing column occupying the right fifth of the screen. Gmail has a single line of text at the top - which disappears from view if I scroll down to read a long message. Far less distracting, far less annoying.

    - Spam filtering - I only have anecdotes, not statistics, but Gmail's filter feels much more intelligent to me. Far less spam gets through, and far less bacn gets falsely flagged as spam. I've kept my Hotmail address as my primary contact with Microsoft, and every once in a while a newsletter from MSDN will end up in the Junk folder. That always makes me smile.

    As you can tell, I love me some Gmail, and Hotmail... not so much anymore. But I reserve my true scorn for Yahoo! Mail - chat-spam hell, clown vomit design, noisy ads everywhere, and still no HTTPS option after all this time. Burn in Hell, Yahooligans!

  23. Anonymous Coward


    ...well looks like people here still don't know how to do a search.


    in the little box type Facebook email.

    Click search

    Look at the results.

    1. Elmer Phud
      IT Angle

      not obvious

      If you have to Google for it then . . .

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Facebook email google search

      I didn't take it that people were doubting that Facebook has a messaging facility, just that when you do a Google search, the Facebook spin is that this is not email as email is past it and will be replaced by their idea.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "...well looks like people here still don't know how to do a search."


    4. Annihilator

      re: Facebook

      "...well looks like people here still don't know how to do a search."

      Nobody says Facebook doesn't do email, they (including me) just noted their surprise. Should I be Googling to see if Twitter do email? McDonalds? BA?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Which? Well, not their advice.

    "Hotmail feels almost part of the operating system" should immediately tell you what O/S they're using -- and thus how hotmail ends up on the top spot. Not by virtue, but by bias. Not flagging that themselves says some pretty bad things about this outfit.

    Similarly, elevating HTML to be a requirement means their focus is solidly on the low, dancing rodents appreciating, end of the market. The part easily duped with (HTML) mail starting with DEAR VALUED FREND or somesuch. And, er, how did they actually test those spam filters? Did they send themselves offers for "herbal blue pills" and the like, or is this more of the "well the buttons look shiny 'nuf, guv" type "testing"?

    Actually, I don't want to know. Failure to spot their own bias here warns me about poor testing. Since that means this poor testing practice will likely persist in other fields where I can't spot it nevermind correct for it for I don't have the required knowledge, this warns me to stay well away from all of their reports.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Do Yahoo and/or Hotmail offer free pop3/imap forwarding? Or do you still have to pay?

  26. Drefsab
    Thumb Down


    I guess this shows that the witch advice is for the little old grannies who are not quite as IT savy as the rest of the world. I've had a hotmail account from back in the days before microsoft bought them out, I also have a gmail account and its the gmail that I use by preference as its by far the better service.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Which? Haven't Got A Clue About Anything Technical

    Which? are complete and utter morons when it comes to anything vaguely technical. In this case, they appear to have confused e-mail with a site's internal message system. Why not compare a PHPBB user to user messages with Yahoo! Mail while they're at it?

    Other gaffs include sending me my online password in an e-mail and in the post (at least they didn't print it on the outside of the envelope). And comparing different MP3 players WITH the bundled headphones - so basically, a £20 player sounded better (according to their tests) because a £200 player bundled crappy headphones (which most users replace anyway). Idiots, I tell you!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Other gaffs include sending me my online password in an e-mail"

      Oh yeah, I almost forgot. They do send you your password (without you ever having requested it), which means of course that they store it in plaintext. I was not at all happy when I saw that.

      In an ideal world my choice would have been a totally unique password, but in the real world it was not. Luckily I am at least sensible enough to use unique passwords for banking and so forth, but I still don't appreciate my security being blatantly compromised like that.

      I probably should have changed it to "hashmypasswordyoubastard" but hindsight is always 20/20.

  28. Juan Inamillion

    Not Which? but Why?

    Years ago, pre-www, when starting out on the family route, I subscribed to Which? to help make decisions on white goods, electronics, cameras and the like. I can't recall one major review which helped particularly.

    As others have noted here the reviews often included old kit or simply bizarre choices. On the strength of one of their 'featured tests' I bought a Philips TV... I had more trouble with it than any other TV I've owned. (The last one being a Sony 20" Trinitron, which I still have, still works after 20 years, although isn't used anymore now I have an Elgato Tuner...).

    As for Hotmail beating Gmail... <face/palm> I go to the foot of our stairs... Why would 'it feels like part of the system' be a plus point? Surely the whole point of WEBmail is that it's system agnostic.


  29. copsewood

    WHICH evidently don't know the first thing about email integrity

    I've looked into several instances where Hotmail's SMTP servers sent 200 OK response codes to my Sendmail client SMTP relay and this was logged on my system. These were saying Hotmail had accepted responsibility for the message my system was sending and Hotmail were receiving. Then they dropped the message on the floor, no undeliverable/bounce received by my sender, but the recipient never saw it.

    Other evils include removing envelope information from the mail and cutting off headings from the actual message. It's a bit like having a postman open and discard your envelopes of the messages the postman chooses not to bin, and then take a pair of scissors to them. OK, I know most people don't want to see full message headers that often, but they should still have the option when they want to trace these postmarks, or see other significant metadata such as how to unsubscribe from a mailing list they confirmed subscription to, but no longer want to receive.

    A conventional snailmail postie would go to jail for similar behaviour. Hotmail just get criticised by the rest of the email standards and antispam development communities for failing to keep to the relevant RFC standards.

  30. Giddy Kipper

    Even easier

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting how terms change over time

    Email as we know it today is very modern. Being able to send emails universally is a fairly new concept (relative to the lifetime of email). Originally, email was a single system thing; then it became multi-system (as long as they were homogenous); then it started crossing architectures using a variety of address kludges; finally, it became the modern internet email we're all used to. However, there are still plenty of the older variations around.

    1. Steve X
      Thumb Down


      The "modern internet email we're all used to" dates from 1982, with RFC821, but UUCP goes back many years before that. Single-system email really only dates from perhaps the mid-60's, so the email that we know today has been around for about 75% of the lifetime of the concept. That's hardly "fairly new" in my book. I can remember sending network emails via DECnet/X.25/IP in the early 80s, and it wasn't an especially new concept then. I seem to remember that HRH QE2 sent her first email back in the 1970s.

  32. poobumwilly
    Thumb Down

    Just wanted to join in with the Which? / Hotmail battering...



  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ....requires some degree of intelligence/technical knowledge to even know it exists, never mind what the purpose of it is.

    Which? wouldn't know anything about that if it repeatedly slapped them in the face.

    We've recently been looking for a builder so mother-in-law (who subscribes to Which?) goes and gets a list of builders from somewhere on the Which? site.

    She got a list of the ten most recommended in our area.

    Of that ten, six no longer exist (and haven't for years); one never seems to have traded; one is a sparky, not a builder; one looks well dodgy (fake NHBC/FMB/VAT/Company numbers); last one is retiring in the summer and doesn't want more work.

    Before the masses flooded onto the internet Which? may have provided a useful service. It doesn't now and IMHO is an utter waste of time and money.

    1. Daniel B.

      Hushmail, indeed.

      Whoever knows about Hushmail knows that it isn't for common stuff.

      The paid-for version offers much more space at 10GB. Yes, Hushmail did lag on the space options, it used to be 250MB but they've recently upped that cap to 10GB. It's totally worth it.

      Which? fails to check what Hushmail is used for.

  34. calagan

    V-Zug kicks Miele's ass

    V-Zug, with it's Swiss quality definitely kicks Miele's ass.

  35. Swarthy

    All thiss webmail stuff

    I use gMail, and I am genuinely happy with it. I haven't looked at hotmail in years, but it would have to have been massively re-written to beat GMail in any aspect.

    But really,

    I miss RocketMail.

  36. Jean-Luc
    Gates Horns

    Spam and Hotmail?

    Does Hotmail now autoflag spam, without your intervention?

    For me, the biggest win with Gmail is easily that most crud gets routed directly to my spam box. I don't need to filter anything. I assume it's a combination of heuristics and, mostly, other users flagging incoming mail as spam.

    If enough people "vote" that something is spam, it shouldn't be too difficult to treat it as spam going forward.

    Does Hotmail Live do that or not?

    Using Outlook 2007 at work feels like getting my teeth pulled out by a drunken blind plumber with Parkinson's so I am having a hard time reconciling that with any notion of MS competence on Hotmail (even if they did run the service on BSD servers in the past).

    Pretty good article for assessing Which? though.

  37. Nick Pettefar

    Not So Hotmail

    I am a moderator on a very busy Yahoo! group with thousands of members and have seen that Hotmail accounts are the most hacked of them all. AOL and Yahoo! are close behind. Gmail hardly ever. I think this may be mostly the fault of the popularity and types of users i.e. the hoi polloi to whom security is another country. In guess Gmailers are more IT savvy or more security aware.

    Yes, Miele for everything! Sehr gut!

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