Microsoft to charge Hotmail access via email clients

Microsoft will start charging for a Hotmail feature that allows users of the Web-based e-mail service to access their e-mail using the Outlook e-mail client.

Microsoft is making the move not to increase the number of paying Hotmail users but because the feature is being abused by senders of spam, says Brooke Richardson, lead product manager for MSN at Microsoft.”Essentially what spammers do is create scripts so they can rapid-fire e-mail from Outlook or Outlook Express and pop off a hundred e-mails from each of those Hotmail accounts in rapid succession,” Richardson says. “On certain days we have seen tens of thousands of Hotmail accounts set up and spamming in this matter.”

To prevent abuse of the feature, Microsoft will stop making it available to new users of free Hotmail and MSN mail accounts starting this week. Current users can continue to use the feature but will be asked to become Hotmail subscribers over the coming months. By April next year, the feature will no longer be available for free, Richardson says.

News source: PC World The Hotmail and MSN mail feature is known as WebDAV, after the Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) protocol that enables it. It is enabled on about 5 percent, or 9.4 million, of the 187 million active Hotmail accounts, according to Richardson.

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