Monday, November 06, 2006

How not to do Web 2.0 (aka Windows Live Mail Beta* Sucks)

A few weeks ago, in my rush of excitement about web 2.0, I signed up for the upgrade from hotmail to Windows Live Mail. Today I’d like to thank Microsoft for proving that not all web 2.0 application are amazing, someone had to burst the bubble and you guys really stepped up to the plate, that takes cojones.

At work we have tons of permanent open developer positions (send me your resumes, I could use the referral bonus) so I know finding talented geeks is not easy but I have to believe it is somewhat easier if you’re backed by a big name and big bucks. So please explain to me why Microsoft can’t get someone to build them a decent web mail system. It has gotten to the point that I find myself considering giving Microsoft pity points for *trying* to get up to speed on web 2.0 but honestly should we be handing out gimmies to a company with a global annual revenue of US$44.28 billion and 71,553 employees?

Microsoft has had 2 years to cheat off of gmail and their new mail offering is still abysmal. The update seems to consist mostly of design changes that don’t improve my user experience. A lot of effort was put into making the web site look vaguely like Microsoft Outlook, they stole all of the icons and most of the functionality which would be impressive if anyone was using Outlook out of choice instead of because their company mandates it. I can also choose from a myriad of ugly color schemes should I feel the need to permanently damage my eyes. A couple of other egregious design flaws:

  1. The system logs me out at least once a day forcing me to sign back in. The “sign back in” link spawns a new window. I just looked for a way to change this and after 5 minutes looking for a “Settings” option found that I can change the way my mail is laid out (ugly, uglier or ugliest) but cannot ask it to load links in the parent window.
  2. I have to use the light version of Windows Live Mail when I’m at home because the regular version won't ever load. My network has no trouble supporting other applications (gmail works fine, I’ll just use gmail).

As someone who works in software development I’m fairly certain that should anyone at Microsoft ever read this post (as soon as this blog gets really famous and people start caring what I think – rough guess: Thursday) I’ll be dismissed as an end user who is too stupid to use their product. Fine. I’ll be over on gmail if you realize that if no one looks at your huge ads you won’t make any money.

At college graduation (6 years ago! Dear god I think the stress of typing that statement may serve as a catalyst to trigger early onset senility) I remember joking with friends that if you didn’t know someone's email address was probably a good guess. Today all of these email accounts are being used as spam filters.

In conclusion: Microsoft, thanks for updating my spam filter, it’s marginally better than the spam filtering you were offering in the past but still so ridiculously bad that I will never use it for real email. Congratz, you have raised the bar from lame to pathetic.

* caveat: it’s a Beta… maybe the real version will be awesome….


Joe said...

One nice things I've noticed about the new hotmail is that I do seem to get a lot less spam than I do on my gmail account (though there it does go straight to the spam folder I never open)... although this might just be because even spammers know no one uses hotmail anymore...

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