back to article Microsoft updates Hotmail to deal with grey spam

Microsoft is making a series of changes to its Hotmail service aimed at cutting down the amount of old mail stuck on servers, falsely labeled spam. Redmond reckons that only about two per cent of inbox email is actually bona fide spam, with the bulk unwanted newsletter deals and alerts that were signed up for and are now …


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  1. Russ Tarbox

    Every time I log onto Hotmail (simply because MSN messenger tells me I have a new message from time to time) it seems so overly complicated / non intuitive.

    For starters, when I log on I'm not immediately actually faced with my e-mail, instead a bunch of nonsense including status updates from friends (why?). Then when I do hit the e-mail section, there is no colour coding - everything is grey and white, all the same font - it just strikes me as odd.

    I use Google Mail and never seen to have problems with it, it integrates well with any device I've thrown at it to date and the anti-spam feature is pretty much spot on.

    Hotmail was brilliant back in the day when free e-mail accounts were a novelty (remember 2MB storage?) but as your article points out, it's becoming increasingly irrelevant. Frankly I'd delete my account if it weren't linked to MSN messenger.

  2. Shannon Jacobs

    Microsoft wearing a white hat?

    I still don't trust them, but you have to acknowledge that Microsoft appears to be the only big player that has really been serious about fighting the spammers. Tired evil company decides to shut down the semi-pro amateur evil spammers?

    I'm not sure of the storyline here, but I think it's time to reconsider which email system I want to use... Several years ago, I quit using Hotmail even in a secondary throwaway capacity. My concern was mostly intrusive privacy things, but Google has become a whole lot more intrusive since then...

    Also, the Google has stopped listening to peasants. Maybe the Microsoft is listening?

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Like how Stalin defeated Hitler.

      Or maybe how we got Saddam Hussein to fight the Muslims for us. And we sold him all that poison gas and stuff.

    2. William Old

      Hotmail - the Genesis planet for spammers...

      "Microsoft appears to be the only big player that has really been serious about fighting the spammers."

      Are you KIDDING me? FIGHTING the spammers??? Hotmail FEEDS the spammers! Try this simple experiment:

      (a) Set up a Hotmail account such as using a browser on an (uncompromised!) PC;

      (b) Don't actually use the account or even give the address to anyone;

      (c) See how long it takes for spam e-mail to start to fill it up;

      (d) errmmm... that's it.

      My guess is either that Microsoft's systems are even more broken than Windows itself, or that selling lists of customers' e-mail addresses provides a useful end-of-month bonus for lowly underpaid MS IT staffers.

      The ONLY step that I've known Hotmail to take in order (allegedly) to address spam was when they suddenly decided unilaterally to reduce MAX_RCPT on their SMTP mail servers to 10 from 100 without telling anyone (or even admitting it), despite 100 being the minimum according to IETF standards... see here:

      Oh, and if you access that link, note that Hotmail admitted that 90% of their inbound mail was spam... 4.5 billion messages out of 5 billion! No wonder, if some insider is flogging off address lists...


      * This doesn't actually affect us, as we run our own mail servers and block** all e-mail from the Hotmail and Live domains.

      ** In this part of the known Universe, senders using such accounts should of course get the polite "550 rejected" message from us explaining why. But as Microsoft ignores all open standards in favour of their own home-brew versions, it looks as though MS doesn't bother delivering these... :(

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not that I disagree, but...

        Purely out of interest - and not to troll or argue, but....

        1) Do you also block landline calls from carrier x because they pass numbers on to cold calling agencies?

        2) Do you block GMail because it is the prodcut of a privacy-intrusive ad agency?

        3) Do you block Yahoo because of their spam associations?

        etc. etc.

        Personally I am surprised, given your opinion of Hotmail, that you do not say you also have GMail blocked or Chrome listed as malware (oh yeah, Microsoft did that didn't they - probably the only thing they have got right for quite some time!)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I set up a Live ID 6 or 7 years ago to use as a test account for Windows Messenger. The address was actually a "non-mail" hotmail account - there was no mailbox associated with in. At some point in the last year, as part of the Windows Live updates, a mailbox was associated with the account, and I've verified that I can receive e-mail at that address. But I've never seen a single spam e-mail sent to the address, and it's considerably less obfuscated that the example you gave.

        Whatever about 4 or 5 years ago, I think Hotmail is probably a lot less spammable now.

  3. Craigness

    Sounds like what Gmail does. Maybe they could repeat the Android deal and give Google $5 per user.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    yesterdays email

    Did I miss something? What is todays email? surely there cant be inference to that joke I call gmail? even now I dont have a fecking clue how to use that thing.

  5. Grendel
    Paris Hilton

    Grey mail... I thought this was "ham"?

    So, what Microsoft are callsing "grey mail" is actually "ham", as in "here is the ham you ordered, sir"... or to put it another way - one person's spam is another person's ham...


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah but...

      ... most people know spam now as junk email... and only nerds and people he read the register call greymail ham. no normal person is going to. MS's term is much better & meaningful

  6. Muhammad Imran/mi1400

    Stop dictating what we need in inbox

    instead of dictating what user should be left with after few days... bith hotmail and google should avoid giving shitty search algos inside email .. thought they pretend its same enterprise search algo. i often miss emails while searching on people names. another example while typing in TO field autocomplete works for starting part of address book not between, even ancient nokia sets do an instring/substring while typing key words to find in phonebook. After this algos enhancement and bringing true bing/google search into inboxes.. they should put an Organizer-Tool to swiftly on fly create folders and throw around emails as we do with files in hdd. Lastly a tool like for Disk storage/mapping/charting like Xinorbis, GrandPerspective. Finally a frightening discovery a while back ... viewing a mail in gMail can be like sitting on that website, gmail preview-pane ran all scripting from that site and i even got a certificate error from that website into my gmail mail-preview-pane... my luck that i had deleted DigiNotar certs from my browsers just few days back.

  7. Parash


    As a long time user (opened 1998) of Hotmail with two accounts, I consider that Hotmail is most relevent to my needs. And I intend to continue using it for many years to to come. In the early days there were some organisations like PayPal and Ashampoo that initially refused to accept Hotmail accounts, but they do now.

    I have gone through five different ISPs since 1991 and have never used their email offerings, except for Compuserve, thus saving myself the hassle of changing email addresses during all this time.

    Currently I have started to use Gmail as I have an Android mobile and could not get Exchange to work on that device.

    So, I am happy to continue using Hotmail and the Skydrive service.

  8. Russ.T.Starfish
    Thumb Up

    Yesterdays Mail.. merely one component in a rounded package

    Whilst it could be a faster, and slicker interface on the mail component. I have yet to find a service that:

    Integrates single sign on with multiple accounts on the same physical machine that also functions with other physical machines.

    (Windows 7 and XP both support the tie in with a account)

    Has that same single sign on for a chat program

    A parental monitoring package that is very granular with white lists, black lists and DNS monitoring per account.

    I'll put up with a slightly clunky interface and the spam, and the grey mail for the convenience of the entire package thank you.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    strange how thing have changed

    For work I use email

    For personal use I FB or Twitter for, the recipient is more likely to read it in a timely manner.

  10. Dirk Vandenheuvel

    It is an email client people... what is "relevant" or "not relevant" about reading some text from other people on the planet? Seriously.

    What seems to be relevant is the need for internet people to be "edgy" and "emo" about just anything nowadays.

    At least Hotmail is not an excuse to ad-spam me (yet).

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Hotmail. Gmail... all shite. I don't understand the over-reliance on this crap. I mean, c'mon, don't tell me that running ones own email server is in any way difficult.

  12. PeterM42

    Warm Mail?

    At least Hotmail is better than the useless google mail as used by Virgin Media - now, that really is CR@P.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IMAP Support

    What's the point of hotmail? I can't read it on my mobile phone.

    Until IMAPS is supported: hotmail is nothing.

    1. Boothy

      Already works on mobile devices

      at least on some.

      Currently accessing my Hotmail via default email clients on both a Tablet and Mobile phone. Both are Android and all I had to do was select to add a new MS Exchange account from the Android Settings/Accounts page, tap my details in, and it set everything up fine.

  14. Tsu Dho Nimh

    I'm still waiting for them to figure out how to screen out the HotSexSpamWithWordsRunTogether emails.

    And the solution to the newsletter spam is for those offering the newsletters to make "NO" the default option, and sending the first one with a "Yes, I really signed up" way to respond. Instead they sign up everyone by default and I report them as spam.

  15. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    "as a result of having signed up on a legitimate website"

    Or as a result of that "legitimate website" automatically opting you in to a newsletter without asking you, or because a site you *did* sign up to then sells your details on to a site which you *didn't* sign up to, or as a result of some spammer using your e-mail address in their list which then gets harvested by another list or by...

    In other words if I, personally, didn't sign up to it willingly and knowingly, then I reserve the right to call it spam!

  16. DJ

    After 10+ years of using Hotmail, I'm reasonably satisfied with what it offers, especially for the price. There's just one thing that drives me mad about it, though; has anyone EVER been able to successfully receive a forgotten password reminder from...anywhere?

    Simply infuriating when you just want to get on with things. :(

    (Yes, I've played with all manner of filter settings, etc.)

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