Use Hotmail features without changing your email address

Use Hotmail features without changing your email address

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If you’ve been reading this blog for the last few months, you’ve seen lots of new features added to Hotmail that make Hotmail more efficient, like Sweep or the ability to send up to 10GB of photos in one message. Some of you sent feedback asking if there’s a way to use these features without the hassle of getting a brand new email address.

We understand. You already have at least one email address and you probably don’t need another. You may also use your existing address for things other than just email, such as signing in to online shopping sites, which makes changing even more challenging. Also, you might have an address that you really like, but a similar name might not be available on another email service. So we looked for a way to make it easier for people to give Hotmail a trial run.

Today we begin rolling out a feature that makes it easy to use Hotmail with any existing email address. Just as you can use Microsoft Outlook with an address from any service, you can now do the same with Hotmail on the web.

Implementing this was fairly straightforward given the architecture of Hotmail, our POP aggregation support, and the "Send As" feature that lets you send mail from any validated email address. We just needed to tweak the way we store and look up email addresses, build the first-run experience, and we had it.

To try it out, you just need to register and validate your email address. Over 30 million people have already registered an email address from another service when signing up for a Windows Live ID to use Xbox, Zune, SkyDrive, or Messenger. If you've done the same, then go to www.hotmail.com and sign in with your Windows Live ID. If you don't have a Windows Live ID, you can sign up for a new Hotmail account now and use your own email address when registering.

Use Hotmail features with other email addresses

Hotmail will guide you through connecting to your old service and importing your existing email using POP, and then you can begin sending and receiving mail from Hotmail with your existing address.

As I mentioned earlier, we’re just starting to roll out this change today, so it may take a few days to reach all of our customers worldwide. When it does, please give it a try, and let me know how it’s working for you.

Dick Craddock
Group Program Manager
Windows Live Hotmail

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  • FYI... Hotmail support is looking into the issue of Hotmail only checking your pop3 email account every 30 minutes or so (It would be nice if it would check every minute or two to be really useful)

    See the thread at

    www.windowslivehelp.com/thread.aspx

  • Cheek
    2 Posts

    @Chris

    Thanks for the smart solution! Hadn't thought of that one.. Although it won't work with all my accounts, it works with the most important ones. And emails arrive within seconds now! :)

    Hope there'll be a fix for the 'on behalf of' problem as well. Haven't seen it yet, but I imagine it might confuse some people I'm in contact with..

  • IL
    15 Posts

    @Gandhi Thank you! I was wrong with that. Just mixed up mail client and web service roles. Really it depends on mail server because when I use mail client all mail is marked as read and sometimes even deleted according to filters set.

  • winter
    15 Posts

    Chris:

    As you know, this feature is called "Use Hotmail features without changing your email address". It is mainly for Live ID signed up with email addresses other than hotmail. In this case, each account is randomly assigned a hotmail ID like hotmail_436e316019a13da5@live.com. However, when I try to forward emails to this hotmail_436e316019a13da5@live.com, it shows the address doesn't exist. So, in order to use the automatic forwarding function of other services like gmail, you should make hotmail_436e316019a13da5@live.com a real address that can accept incoming emails. Now it can only work with POP3.

  • @Cheek (and others) -- If your other mail service supports forwarding, you can turn forwarding on from that service as a way to have the mail delivered to Hotmail in real time.

  • Cheek
    2 Posts

    First of all, congrats on the great service!

    I've moved all my email online since this change (previously using Thunderbird) and it has been a great experience. Sweep, multiple pop3 accounts, gmail, exchange. I've never really used hotmail in the past 10 years, but it's been great and even better than a native email app, in my experience.

    The only complaint I have is, like many people before me, the update frequency of the pop3 accounts.

    I'm fine with Hotmail checking my pop3 email every 30 minutes (although 10-15 min would be better), but manually updating your email should check pop3 accounts as well. Just like a native app would.

    If I go into Outlook, it instantly checks my pop3 accounts. I can hit refresh and it instantly checks them again. If Hotmail wants to be a replacement for this, it really needs to emulate this behavior. You can't have people telling you they've send an email to your pop3 account, and you have to wait 30 minutes to get it.

    I hope this will possible in the future. For the rest, great work!

  • winter
    15 Posts

    I have used my gmail as the Windows Live Messenger ID for a long time, this feature is really useful. It can be more useful if the following problems are addressed: (1). when I send emails to my work email and open the emails in Outlook, all the mails show something like "sent from hotmail_eff3g54556b5@live.com on behalf of jsmith@gmail.com". This annoying thing is also shown if emails are sent to another hotmail account, but not in Yahoo or Gmail. (2). emails can only be retrived via POP3, which may work once every 1 hour or so. In many cases, this interval is too long. It seems that my account has been assigned a virtual hotmail ID hotmail_eff3g54556b5@live.com. But when I try to send email from another account to it, it shows this account doesn't exist. Please make hotmail_eff3g54556b5@live.com a real ID, so emails can be forwarded from gmail directly.

  • controlz
    145 Posts

    Another great feature that makes Windows Live Hotmail miles ahead of Yahoo Mail, Gmail and MobileMe Mail.

  • @Dick Craddock

    I've set my work email up using this.  But web Hotmail only checks the pop email account every 30 minutes or so.  So, I don't get emails right away.  Is there a way to speed up the frequency of checking for new emails?

    thanks

  • Gandhi
    5 Posts

    @IL: It is not Hotmail that marks messages as read on the remote server after pulling in the messages via POP3. That is controlled by the individual service when messages are accessed by a POP3 client.  For example, Gmail does not mark the messages as read; Yahoo marks the messages as read.

  • IL
    15 Posts

    I love that new feature but shall use it for archive purposes currently. I still use original web mail server checking my mail. But what?! Now all new mail is already read by somebody! How? Oh, of course Hotmail aggregator got it and marked it as read :)

    Seriuosly speaking, could you give us an option to leave aggregated mail unread on source mail server? And option per mail account?

  • BTW, is there a way to test this SSL/HTTPS to see how well it works ?  Maybe some with that Firesheep extension could test their own secure and non-secure hotmail to see if there's a difference (assuming Firesheep works on non-secure Hotmail).

  • Thanks, langware, for the *very* helpful input !  :-)

  • langware
    154 Posts

    @MondayBlues:

    I believe the error message you are seeing ("Your Windows Live ID can't use HTTPS automatically because this feature is not available for your account type.") is due to the session HTTPS feature not being fully rolled out. Once that feature is rolled out, I suspect we will be able to select "Use HTTPS automatically" and the error message will not be displayed.

    Until the HTTPS feature is rolled out, it appears that those of us trying to use that feature now will have to bypass that message. Here's how ...

    Sign on to hotmail via this URL:

    https://www.hotmail.com

    The very first page you see (after signing on) will have this title:

    "Trying to use Hotmail with HTTPS?"

    At the bottom of that page, you will see a button. Don't click that button now (because the HTTPS session feature is not fully rolled out). Instead, look to the right of that button, you will see this link:

    "Continue to Hotmail."

    Just click that link, and your Hotmail account should be opened in SSL (you can verify this by looking at the address bar of your browser .... the address there should begin with HTTPS and be followed by the name of the Hotmail server that hosts your account.

    Of course, none of this is supported by Microsoft (yet).

  • I tried accessing my free Live.com email account via the https links provided in the comments above.  When I chose to connect "automatically" by default, I got this error message:

    Your Windows Live ID can't use HTTPS automatically because this feature is not available for your account type.

    Exactly what "account type" do I have that disqualifies me from using https automatically ??  (I'm connecting via the webmail interface, not an offline client of phone.)  Is this only available to paying customers or something ??!  I **am** able to connect with https as long as I do it manually.

  • avensog
    8 Posts

    nice work langware you should make it publicly available through the firefox addon greasemonkey.

    Feature I like:

    If you are browsing hotmail with full ssl session enabled your Chat conversations will be encrypted .  Its about time they added this feature.

    To the developers:

    Are you going to add encryption to chat conversations through the windows live pc application?  Without it, chat conversation could easily be read in plain text by anyone connected to your network.

    Timestamps are not added to the messenger web application, or at least not for offline messages.

    There should be an option to view offline users, and the ability to right click on them and do certain functions such as delete them etc.

    There should be messenger settings available through the web application, maybe a future task.

  • Using Hotmail in this new way would be much easier to set up if there was a proper migration logic that takes my mail and folder structure from the old host and copies it over into Hotmail. This might indeed require Hotmail to support IMAP aggregation. Like it is now, it is a very tiresome process to copy over folder after folder using a client e-mail program as proxy (such as Outlook with Hotmail Connector).

    Best, Klaus Neumann

    Microsoft MVP - Windows Live

    http://mynetx.net/

  • kcrannie
    31 Posts

    Microsoft should concentrate on removing all ads from within the interface pages of Windows Live Hotmail.  When you consider that Zoho.com, GMX.com, Burntmail.com are free web-based email programs and are not funded by any form of advertisements.  Why is it that Microsoft does not respect the privacy of their subscriber's?  If Zoho, GMX and Burntmail can respect the privacy of it subscriber's by being ad-free, why not Microsoft?

  • langware
    154 Posts

    @Dick Craddock:

    Thanks for your reply.

    I realize that SSL support (for full session) is not yet officially "rolled out", but apparently it is possible to use full SSL sessions in Hotmail now (depending upon which cluster hosts ones account).

    Look at my posts and also look at the posts from avensog for details on how we are able to currently able to use session SSL in Hotmail.

    My only complaint is the intermediate window that appears each time one signs on and asks the user if SSL should be used automatically or not (let me know if you'd like screen shots of this window).

    This intermediate window may be useful for the first week after the session SSL option is rolled out on a given cluster, but in the long run .... the intermediate window should go away and the customer's selection (to automatically use SSL or not) should be made persistent.

    @avensog:

    I agree with your "easier solution" ... I created a java script (for use in Firefox) that automatically clicks the "Continue to Hotmail" link in the intermediate window. As mentioned above, I would prefer that once session SSL is officially rolled out, Hotmail just remembesr my preference and the intermediate window no longer is displayed. But for now, my script automatically clicks the "Continue to Hotmail" link for me (dismissing the intermediate window and taking me to my Hotmail inbox). If you use Firefox and want my script, just let me know.

  • avensog
    8 Posts

    Easier solution:

    1. Login from https://www.mail.live.com

    2. Click on the hyperlink "Continue to hotmail"

    Thats it.

  • avensog
    8 Posts

    In reply to Langware:

    Its probably a bug, I had the same problem, ignore it.

    Once you sign in from https://www.mail.live.com, you are able to browse back to your inbox page which is ssl encrypted. (look at the top of the page, click on the hotmail link)

    I noticed not all pages s are encrypted, but the important pages that matter are encrypted.  

    Another problem I noticed when browsing an un-encrypted page from hotmail, then browsing back to an encrypted page ssl becomes broken.

  • @orcmid: currently Outlook Connector does not support Send As - that’s a feature we’re considering for a future release.

  • @Peter Hoyer:

    Peter, sorry you are experiencing issues with Outlook Connector> I would be interested in understanding more of the problems you are experiencing. Please let me know how I can assist.

    Alessio Roic

    Microsoft Outlook Program Manager

    Microsoft

  • can you increase the frequency that Hotmail checks the pop email account for new mail?  That would make this the perfect setup for me. Right now it seems to take between 15-45 minutes for a new email to arrive. (Does it check it every 30 minutes??)  It would be nice if it would check every minute or two!

  • @langware and others – we’ve announced support for SSL, but we have not yet rolled it out. It’s coming soon – we appreciate your patience.

  • @usctrojan98, @ckincincy, @MondayBlues – your mail is sent “on behalf of.” We’ve gotten feedback from some customers that this is a limitation, so we’re considering a future feature that would remove the “on behalf of.”

    @MondayBlues – Good feedback about creating “aliases” for using with shopping, newsletters, etc. That’s a good feature we’re considering for a future release.

  • langware
    154 Posts

    @avensog:

    When you use    https://www.mail.live.com    to sign on, and after entering your ID and password, do you first see an intermediate page that is titled " Trying to use Hotmail with HTTPS?" and has a button that says "Always use HTTPS (recommended)."

    Even though I have previously clicked the button to always use HTTPS, I continue to get that intermediate page (see my previous post above for more details).

    It appears (at least for my account and/or the server cluster I use: COL101) that the conversion to HTTPS is not complete. My Hotmail session is indeed SSL, but the intermediate window is a pain to click through each time I sign on.

    Waiting for a response from someone in the Hotmail Product Group to explain this issue .... waiting .... and waiting ...

  • I am having serious problems with the sub-folder feature of Hotmail: Outlook Connector looses messages im upload and folders get randomly moved on the server (web interface) whereas still displayed in the correct order in Outlook (even on a different PC), plus minor issues with Live Mail.

    Live forum support does not care.

    I am using Hotmail for more than 10 years and I really like it but a mail service loosing messages is inacceptable and a support team not understanding to distinguish between general use questions and critical issues is a shame and dangerous.

  • avensog
    8 Posts

    Well its about BLOODY time https has been added.

    To get this working:

    1. Login from https://www.mail.live.com

    2. Start browsing from that page

  • Why does it take 30 minutes for the email to come though into Hotmail??? Is there a problem? or is this just the way it is... don't expect to receive emails right away?

  • JimJim
    4 Posts

    If, at any level, you don't want strangers reading any of your Hotmail emails, looking at your contacts, sending email from your account then the only reasonable recommendation is to *not* log onto Hotmail at a public wifi hotspot such as those at Starbucks/an airport/the mall, etc until this hole with Hotmail is resolved.

  • I've added my company email to my hotmail, going to a new folder.  On my mobile phone (6.5 Windows) with ActiveSync, the folder is showing up, but it's not being populated with any email.

  • langware
    154 Posts

    When I signed on to Hotmail this morning, I received a page titled:

    Trying to use Hotmail with HTTPS?

    The page stated "For the most secure connection, we strongly recommend that you change your settings to always use HTTPS" and included a button that said: "Always use HTTPS (recommended)."

    It appeared that the long waited for full HTTPS session feature had arrived. I clicked the recommended button.  Another page appeared that appeared to be from the "Account > Connect with HTTPS" option. This page stated "Using HTTPS will help keep your account secure from hackers-especially if you commonly use public computers or unsecure wireless connections." ....  and had two choices:

    * Use HTTPS automatically

    * Don't use HTTPS automatically

    I selected "Use HTTPS automatically" and clicked the SAVE button.

    The page refreshed and a red error message appeared stating:

    "Your Windows Live ID can't use HTTPS automatically because this feature is not available for your account type."

    I then clicked the CANCEL button and my account was opened. The URL in the browser's address bar began with HTTPS .... so it appears that in spite of the misleading error message I received when attempting to set the HTTPS option, my account is using SSL for the full session .... but the process of enabling this option appears to be flawed.

    Also, please note that I get different results depending upon which URL I use to initially sign-on to Hotmail.

    I get the above results when I use this URL to sign-on ... https://www.hotmail.com

    If I use this URL ... https://login.live.com ... then I am signed on to my Hotmail account without SSL (i.e., the address bar does not begin with HTTPS but instead begins with HTTP).

    Can you please tell us what the correct URL is for signing on to Hotmail, and can you have someone look into the flawed process that is currently displayed when ones account is converted to having the HTTPS option available.

  • JimJim
    4 Posts

    Google went to all SSL encrypted traffic last January and they found the extra computational effort was negligible. Given the big Firesheep security risk to Hotmail users over public wifi connections at airports/coffee shops/etc where is default full-encryption for Hotmail users?

    www.imperialviolet.org/.../overclocking-ssl.html:

    "In January this year (2010), Gmail switched to using HTTPS for everything by default. Previously it had been introduced as an option, but now all of our users use HTTPS to secure their email between their browsers and Google, all the time. In order to do this we had to deploy no additional machines and no special hardware. On our production frontend machines, SSL/TLS accounts for less than 1% of the CPU load, less than 10KB of memory per connection and less than 2% of network overhead. Many people believe that SSL takes a lot of CPU time and we hope the above numbers (public for the first time) will help to dispel that.

    If you stop reading now you only need to remember one thing: SSL/TLS is not computationally expensive any more."

  • aspokes
    1 Posts

    Its great your adding features like this, but you should be focusing on SECURITY, you promised us a full SSL encryption session many months ago.

    To the people who do not understand the consequences of this, microsoft is putting you AT RISK EVERYDAY they do not implement this.

  • I'm trying this (from my non-hotmail.com Windows Live ID acount), but I still get the "You don't have an inbox...yet" message.  Any ideas???

  • langware
    154 Posts

    Thank you for this new feature, but it does bring up several questions ...

    Currently, there are many known bugs and design flaws in the Hotmail interface. Here are a few ...

    1. With the Reading Pane sized to occupy the bottom 30% of the screen, when a message is selected (and appears in the reading pane), and the Actions (or Reply) option (top right of the message) is clicked, the drop down list is truncated (cut off by the top of the reading pane's frame).

    2. When the reading pane is on the right, the number of messages in a folder (usually displayed on the left side of the footer) is not shown ..... the left side of footer is truncated.

    3. When reading a long message, the Next and Previous arrows are scrolled off screen .... requiring the user to scroll in order to view and click the Next/Previous arrow. The Next/Previous arrows should be placed into the "frozen" menu at the top of the page.

    4. In IE8, if an Explorer Bar (Favorites, History, Feeds) is displayed, the User name, profile, and sign out selections are truncated off the right side of the screen. This is on a monitor set to 1280x1024.

    5. The previous version of Hotmail allowed one to navigate the inbox (and all other folders) by page number. The ability to navigate by page number has been removed from Wave4 Hotmail.

    6. After selecting "Show Cc & Bcc" and then canceling the new message, the setting becomes permanent until a new message is sent.

    7. An UNREAD message that is deleted from the inbox is moved to the Deleted folder, but is NOT CHANGED TO READ.

    ... more can be found in this thread (with over 500 replies) ...

    windowslivehelp.com/thread.aspx

    Shouldn't the known problems with Hotmail's User Interface have been fixed before opening the interface up to new customers?

    Also, what about the issue of Hotmail account hijackings? While Microsoft has made some recent improvements in Hotmail's security, the frequency of complaints about account hijackings does not seem to have significantly decreased. Not all of these hijackings can be blamed on customers practicing unsafe computing. It appears that the hijacking problem is still impacting many accounts. Will new customers with non-Hotmail addresses now become subject to the same hijacking issues as current Hotmail customers are?

    Finally, will there be an increase in staff levels at Windows Live Solutions Center in order to handle the increase in posts from new customers using the Hotmail Interface, or will the Moderator response time just grow even longer due to an increased volume of posts?

    Adding this new feature is nice .... but there are a lot of loose ends that also need to be tied up. Can you address these for us?

  • AlexD77
    9 Posts

    guys, it would be better, if you make two REALLY necessary features for the live domains: "catch-all" box and aliases.

  • That's a really interesting feature. If only my Yahoo Mail had support to POP3, I could use Hotmail as my unified inbox.

  • hdw
    25 Posts

    @Mike

    Thanks for the clarification :)

  • A few clarifications here...

    For a long time, Hotmail has had the ability for you to create a Hotmail address, sign in, and aggregate mail from other services over POP. Nothing has changed about that feature -- it works the same as it always did, and if you're happy with your setup, then you don't need to change anything.

    The key change here is that you don't have to create a new address to try Hotmail. If you've already got an address from any other email service, you can now use that to sign into Hotmail. And, when you set up POP aggregation from that other email service, you now can use Hotmail essentially as a client.

    For example, if you have the address, "abc@company.com", you can create a Live ID for this address by following the signup link above. After you verify that you own the address, you can then sign into Hotmail using "abc@company.com". To view your company.com email, you can set up POP aggregation from @company.com.

    Emails that you send will be sent "on behalf of", although different email services display that header in different ways. In Gmail and Hotmail, it will look like "From: abc@company.com" by default. If you view the advanced header details, you'll see the Sender field is something like, "hotmail_9cbcc674b5c4195e@hotmail.com".

    Hopefully that's a little more clear!

    @hdw -- A lot of Hotmail's spam filtering is done based on the IP address of the sender. When you POP aggregate, we can't tell what the sender's IP address is, so we can't do the same filtering. If you have the email sent directly to Hotmail instead of going through Yahoo, then we could filter it more effectively.

  • jvd897
    8 Posts
  • JimJim
    4 Posts

    What about the Hotmail security "feature" that anyone that can run a browser can download a Firefox extension called Firesheep that came out last week and then if you are both on the same wifi network (at a coffee shop, work, hotel, etc) this other person can view *your* Hotmail mails, send mails as you, etc on *their* computer!. This is because Hotmail only has a secure SSL logon and leaves pages after that open to be read by others over wifi with this software and your logon co-opted by them.

    This CNN article is just one example of hundreds on the subject in the last week.

    edition.cnn.com/.../firesheep.wifi.security

  • 1.  This will/would be great if as others have mentioned Hotmail will avoid revealing the main Hotmail sending address.

    2.  In some case I would prefer to send from another HOTMAIL address (shopping online, newsletters, message board sign-ups, etc.).  Perhaps the Windows team would consider creating the ability to have aliases for such purposes ?  That way the main account name can be for more personal use (or even used only for logins !) and the aliases could do most/all of the real email 'work.'  :-)

  • As others have mentioned, shouldn't the announcement have been centred around IMAP support rather than POP3? Unless I'm missing something, POP3 support doesn't really help with multiple mail clients. I don't see that this gives me any valueadd whatsoever.

  • orcmid
    3 Posts

    I basically abandoned MSN Mail (back in the day) and Hotmail since I could not do a Send As ... successfully.  Can I do this with Outlook Connector as well, using my Hotmail account.  (I keep Hotmail and my only-ever Live ID for emergencies and for properties that accept LiveID, and it matter if I am traveling and I need to use an Internet Cafe).  I suspect it might matter when I get a *Phone, too!

  • How is this different from adding an additional account before? I already have 5 external accounts added to my Hotmail, so is anything changing for me?

  • SDBob
    1 Posts

    Until Hotmail supports IMAP, it will continue to be the red-headed step child to that other service that shall remain nameless. POP is nice but as has been mentioned above, it's limits still make Hotmail a second choice for those that want to access their emails on multiple platforms.

  • jvd897
    8 Posts

    This sounds like a great feature, but I wish it didn't rely on POP.

    As I'm sure most people here are aware, the famous drawback to POP is that you can really only use one email client with it at a time -- since it only downloads new messages from the inbox, and any folders have to be stored in the client. If you want to use a second email client with the same POP account, either the same emails will appear as unread, or they've already been deleted from the server and you end up with your emails split across two clients.

    So this feature is a good start if you want to permanently replace your existing webmail interface with Hotmail. But I think it would be even more powerful if it would let you have a unified online inbox, with all your POP3, IMAP, and Windows Live email accounts viewable separately or mixed in together, similar to the unified inboxes in the Windows Live Mail desktop client or the iOS mail client.

  • I can't use this until I get the ability to use my own smtp server.

  • TechPro
    1 Posts

    I really like the new improvements to Hotmail. I would just like to see the auto-refresh feature enabled by default, not only when I am signed into messenger. Trust me when I say it is confusing and most people don't know about it.

    Keep up the good work.

  • That is a great feature, but I have 2 request:

    1) Could you please increase the number of aggregated account to 10 (at least)?

    2) Could this "send as" feature be replicated also in Windows Live Mail?

    I have an hotmail account that aggregate 5 other accounts: when I use Windows Live Mail there is no way to select from what account I want to send the email.

    This cause lot of confusion to the recipients because they see a mail account (@hotmail.it) that is not the one they used to send me the email.

  • hdw
    25 Posts

    I have my yahoo account connected to live ,but it's getting a lot of spam. Why doesn't hotmaill's spam filters work on my yahoo inbox?

  • EvilEls
    4 Posts

    Is this POP aggregation similar to the existing "Sending/receiving email from other accounts" feature?

    How many POP accounts can be aggregated? Still just four?

  • will this end up going with "sent by abc@company.com on behalf of xyz@hotmail.com"?