The war on graymail after 90 days: Over 100 million sweeps, cleanups and newsletters filtered

The war on graymail after 90 days: Over 100 million sweeps, cleanups and newsletters filtered

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Hotmail introduced advanced features for fighting the war on graymail this past fall, and since then, customers have conquered graymail over 100 million times using features like Sweep and Schedule Cleanup. In this post, I’ll talk about how Hotmail customers are taking control of their email with Sweep, Schedule Cleanup, and Hotmail’s newsletter filter, and we’ll show you how these tools can help you conquer graymail in your own inbox in just 60 seconds.

The best tools for fighting graymail

Graymail—messages  like newsletters, daily deals, and notifications—is filling up inboxes all over the world. Newsletters alone typically make up more than 50% of a person’s email. Managing all that graymail takes time and can be a hassle. Hotmail continues to add innovative features to let you take control of graymail and take back your inbox.

Hotmail’s newsletter category automatically identifies most newsletters and lets you see them all in one place with a single click. One-click unsubscribe lets you get rid of unwanted newsletters instantly.

Schedule Cleanup is a powerful new feature that lets you automatically manage bulk mail. With Schedule Cleanup, you can:

  • Keep only the latest message from a given sender (by far the most popular choice when using Schedule Cleanup).
  • Delete messages as they get old (3 days, 10 days, 30 days, or 60 days).
  • Move messages to a folder as they get old.

Schedule Cleanup not only takes care of the mail you’ve already received, but keeps working for you as you receive new mail. It’s one of the most efficient ways to keep your inbox tidy.

Sweep lets you move or delete unwanted graymail quickly and easily, and can even automatically set up rules for managing new mail as it arrives.

Categories let you organize your mail the way you want. Hotmail automatically categorizes things like newsletters, social updates, photos, Office docs and shipping updates. Now, you can create your own categories and have each one show up as a QuickView.

And of course, these features work well together. Categories can be used together with Schedule Cleanup, making those tools even more powerful. For instance, you can use Schedule Cleanup to delete all newsletters as they get old, just by using Schedule Cleanup on the newsletter category.

100 million actions and counting

It’s been just two months since we finished the deployment of our most recent major release, and we’ve already seen millions of people use these tools to quickly take control of their own inbox. Let’s take a look at some of the numbers.

Since November, 2011, customers have performed over 100 million actions to conquer graymail: Sweeping, categorizing, and using Schedule Cleanup.

  • You’re using Sweep to get unwanted email out of your inbox: 90% of Sweep actions are “Delete all from this sender.”
  • You’re letting Sweep set up rules automatically: When you use Sweep to move mail from a given sender into a folder, you let Sweep automatically set up a rule 60% of the time. That means Sweep keeps working for you as you get new email, even when you are away from your inbox.
  • You’re using Schedule Cleanup to keep only the most recent newsletter or deal: 65% of Schedule Cleanup actions are “Only keep the latest message from this sender.”

And what’s more, we’re seeing an increasing use of these powerful tools. Each month, more people use Sweep and Schedule Cleanup to get rid of their graymail. In fact, we’ve seen a double-digit increase in the use of these features month-over-month since our October release.

Take back your inbox in 60 seconds

The best news is that these tools are quick and easy to use. In this video, we’ll show you how you can take back your own inbox in just 60 seconds.

More and more people are using Hotmail’s innovative tools to fight their own war on graymail, and we hope you’ll give these tools a try yourself. We’d love to hear about your own experience using Sweep, Schedule Cleanup, categories, and the rest.

As always, thanks for using Hotmail.

Dick Craddock

Group Program Manager, Hotmail

60 Comments
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  • Great job HOTMAIL team!  The recent features are only the begining.  I need 500 rules!!!  The current 250 rule limitations disallow me to further manage my graymail.  Advertisers are getting smart, they are instituting a war on electronic media and varying their sends.  Sometimes I get multiple emails from the same agency/department.

    Your team is way behind the power curve on this one.  These features should have been available in 2006, when I first started using HOTMAIL. But at least great minds are running things again.  Lets empower the user!  Give greater tools and capacity to fight this madness.  Thanks, and great job.

  • langware
    154 Posts

    @Karla Larkins,

    On March 16, you posted this:

    "We’re also working on process improvements to help moderators more accurately provide the status of reported issues to customers.  Initiatives to improve the quality of response are under way.  Continuous improvement efforts can take time, but we’re endeavoring to deliver a healthy online community for Hotmail users.  Active participation from MVPs as well as improved moderator responses will help make the community more effective."

    The Windows Live Solution Center currently has this sticky post:

    "We are excited to let you know that we will soon be moving the forums in the Windows Live Solution Center to the Microsoft Answers forums and the solution articles to the Microsoft Windows site. At the end of the move, we will retire the Windows Live Solution Center."

    Can you comment on how this change from the Windows Live Solution Center site to the Microsoft Answers site helps address your initiatives "to improve the quality of response"? Will this change result in Hotmail customers having access to moderators who are better trained to actually troubleshoot customer's specific problems and less reliant on scripted responses (that frequently do not provide much help)? Will customers be able to report bugs and enhancement requests, and get actual status on their requests (rather than "you problem is under investigation")?

  • @pkalellis  We understand that there is demand for this, but don't have any new news for you at this time. Thanks for pushing.

  • @Dick Craddock Hi Dick!  Several months ago we exchanged a couple of messages regarding hotmail access through Outlook 2011 for Mac.  You indicated that this was in the works in light of the availability of hotmail though iOS using ActiveSync.  Is there any update on hotmail access through Outlook?  It is such a immense inconvenience and disservice to loyal MS Hotmail customers who use Macs.  Thanks for any info.

  • I tried to sign up for a new Hotmail account and in the first field (i.e. Hotmail address field) I put the ID(i.e. address) that I wanted but it did not show whether that ID wanted is available or not. I assumed that it might be available and filled all other fields. But when I finally clicked "I accept" at last on the sign up page it showed a message that this ID is not available. Whats wrong?? Why it did not show at the very beginning and where are other ID suggestions that are available?? This is very bad. This feature is present in every other email service. They tell us in the beginning whether our required ID is available or not. And actually this is necessity which was there in Hotmail, but don't know whether you people removed it. If yes, then it would create a lot of problem for new users who want to sign up for Hotmail. Their first experience with Hotmail would become bad....

    Hope you will ponder upon this..

  • @Reshia98. We're sorry that you've had this experience. Your issue should be resolved now. Please let me know if that's not the case. Thanks, David

  • langware
    154 Posts

    @Dick Craddock,

    I'm sure that you prefer that Hotmail customers use the Windows Live Solution Center (as opposed to your blog) to request help. We customers would also prefer to use the Windows Live Solution center to get help. But as you can tell from the comments posted in this (and many of your other blogs), the Windows Live Solution Center all too frequently does not provide the help that your customers are requesting. Instead we get generic replies that do not solve the problem.

    Here you have a customer (Reshia98) begging you for help because the Windows Live Solution Center is unable to solve her problem.

    Please, do not ignore your customer's plea for help ..... please have someone address Reshia98's problem.

  • Mr. Craddock,

    Imagine how you would feel if you stepped into your office and could not log into your account.  I am sure you would have every IT professional at your beck and call.  Well, consider how I feel.  There is no number to call, no person to talk to.  How can we tell you about our positive experience with new features if we can't get into our own accounts?

  • Still unable to sign into my hotmail account.  What do I have to do to get a consultant to want to help me fix my issue?  Emails and accounts don't just disappear.  They are somewhere on YOUR server.  I have done all the updates to everything I can do on my end.  Why is it that I am told by a moderator that they don't see where my account ever existed, but if I try to log into my hotmail account with the wrong password, it says wrong password.  If the account doesn't exist then how is that possible.  Also, I have (or had) a Skydrive where my husband and I have shared pictures.  Why is it he can go to the Skydrive and still see my user name and send emails to my account.  Come on take the time to do a little investigation and research and recover my account.  I have had experience with Systems techs being able to go back to the last day a user was able to log into their account and recovering their email, so why is it that an organization like yours can't?  Unacceptable!!!  Now, please have one of the people inbox me with a fix.

  • I am trying to figure out how I have had a Hotmail account for 14 years that has worked flawlessly, and now for the past seven days I have not been able to log into my account from any computer.  This has wreaked havoc in my life and is about to cost me my job.  I am a USAF veteran and an online instructor.  My VA documents as well as my teaching files are all locked in my account.  I have tried to no avail to unlock this account several times.  Please tell me this is not the best you can do.  I need my account unlocked YESTERDAY!!  Please help the account affected is auriesheaua@hotmail.com.

  • langware
    154 Posts

    @Karla Larkins:

    Thank you for your response.

    I agree that "Continuous improvements take time".

    Please see this thread ...

    windowslivehelp.com/thread.aspx

    ... I reported a bug on January 19, 2011 (yes, that date is right, a year and two months ago). Since then, WLSC moderators have stated that it is a known problem and the Product Team is working on a solution. But after 14 months, a solution has not been implemented.

    Improvements do take time, but after 14 months, is it too much to expect an accurate update on the status of a reported bug from the WLSC? If this is another case of the Product Team deciding not to fix a bug, then please inform the WLSC so they can inform their customer.

    I'm sure you see my point .... the WLSC needs to have direct access to current and accurate status of their customer's reported issues. Without that information, all they can do is provide generic responses that only frustrate your customers. Have you considered going back to the old method of assigning a unique case number to each reported incident ... so the WLSC moderators can access current status by case number and provide that to their customers?

  • @langware.  I appreciate your observations and comments!  We are listening.  As David Dennis mentioned, we’re working on initiatives to improve messaging on status.live.com when there is a service outage and publish consistent messages in the forums.  We’re also working on process improvements to help moderators more accurately provide the status of reported issues to customers.  Initiatives to improve the quality of response are under way.  Continuous improvement efforts can take time, but we’re endeavoring to deliver a healthy online community for Hotmail users.  Active participation from MVPs as well as improved moderator responses will help make the community more effective.  Thanks again!

  • langware
    154 Posts

    @David Dennis,

    Thanks for your response.

    First, I think status dot live dot com is an excellent idea. As you mentioned, please continue to improve its accuracy. I also suggest that you find ways to better advertise the site's existence. Doing so can possibly relieve the Windows Live Solution Center (WLSC) of some of it's load.

    My main concern is the poor support provided by the WLSC and the apparent disconnect between the WLSC and reality. A recent example:

    On Feb 14, Hotmail experienced an outage between 9:05 pm PST and 11:55pm PST. The status and cause of this outage was clearly posted on status dot live dot com. Yet, at late as Feb 15 at 12:22pm PST the moderators on WLSC were posting a standard generic reply: "optimize your browser" in threads that were complaining about the outage. Apparently, 12 hours after the outage had been solved, the WLSC's moderators were unaware as to the status and cause of the outage (i.e., information clearly available on status dot live dot com).

    The WLSC serves as the primary support interface to your customers; yet it's moderators can often only provide generic answers such as "it's under investigation" or "optimize your browser".

    Please, please, please find ways to make the WLSC more effective. The moderators need better training in technical troubleshooting (they are good at "how to" questions but not so good at second level troubleshooting), and they need internal access to more current and more comprehensive status of customer's complaints.

    Thanks for listening!

  • @mnm4e, @trulyindian & others

    I see some other Microsoft folks have reached out on several of the issues you've mentioned, I just wanted to touch on two of them.

    First, the one regarding messages from the blog and WLSC going to the junk folder. I apologize for this and can say that it is something we're working on and that the right teams inside Microsoft are aware this is happening, but I cannot at this time promise when it will be fixed. I will commit to getting a timeframe and responding back to this thread. In the meantime you can prevent the messages from going to junk by adding the sender (or better yet, their domain) to your safelist. This is just a workaround to ensure you don't miss anything until we have the underlying issue worked out.

    Second, the red bar suddenly showing up on messages from senders you trust. When we're processing an email for delivery to a Hotmail user, the message goes through a number of checks including a test that looks to make sure there are no dangerous URLs in the message. Early Tuesday morning (PST) and through part of Wednesday afternoon, the system responsible for these checks had some bad data that caused a small number of safe URLs to be flagged as suspicious.

    When we began seeing user reports of incorrectly flagged messages, we debugged and resolved the problem, deploying a fix early Wednesday afternoon. That had the effect of stopping any more messages from being incorrectly flagged, but messages already delivered and on the way to being delivered will still be affected - including messages you may not have opened yet.

    However, it is important to note that after about Wednesday 5:00pm PST, no new messages were affected. I will note that we're working on a change to that system that will prevent this from happening again.

    If you think you're still seeing new messages with this issue, please send me a private message with the details. Thanks!

  • @langware, we're working on a few different initiatives right now to get even better at closing the loop with regard to issues and ideas our users report to us. And, we're continuously investing in status.live.com to make that as accurate as possible...and process changes to make sure forum moderators have the latest detail. As you can imagine, though, outages are never planned so we don't always perfect information that we can use to keep our users up-to-date.

  • @mnm4e

    Thanks for posting your request for help on the Windows Live Solution Center.  I believe we've already resolved some of the issues that you reported.  Let's continue to troubleshoot your remaining issues through your forum post and private conversations to insure that Hotmail is performing as efficiently as possible for you.

  • @mnm4e  I've sent you a friend request.  If you accept, I'd be more than happy to assist you.

  • @mnm4e: I completely agree. MS has been a part of my life (hope will remain also but not quite confident whether in this way they can keep me) but my loyalty for that is slowly but surely declining.

  • langware
    154 Posts

    @Dick Craddock,

    Five months ago (Oct 2011), I posted information about a bug in Hotmail's User Interface. Since that time, I received generic responses from the Windows Live Solution Center (WLSC) stating that the bug was "under investigation". In December 2011, I finally received a message from a WLSC escalation specialist stating that the bug would be fixed in a future release. On March 9, I posted here asking you to please provide status. The same day, I received this response in the WLSC:

    "Unfortunately, the Hotmail Engineering Team has decided not to fix this issue at this time."

    I appreciate your honesty ... even if I don't like the answer. It would have been nice to have received that status from the WLSC months ago, rather than being told that the problem is "under investigation" and will be fixed in a future release.  

    Is there some way for you (the Hotmail Team) to provide the WLSC with more up-to-date and accurate information on the status of customer's problem/bug reports, outages, etc?

  • spring
    14 Posts

    Most of the bugs in Hotmail reported here have been posted quite several times here, but it seems that they will be with Hotmail forever. Nobody in the Hotmail team cares about their products, so why do we, the users, have to stick with it? Not only this Hotmail, the company almost cannot make anything well now. I bought a Zune in 2009. But only after a few months, I found that with a full charge the battery could only last for about one and a half hour for video playing. Now, even for radio function, the battery can only be used for less than two hours, quite annoying. For comparison, I got my cell phone in 2006 and have been using it since then, till today I haven't noticed any problem with the battery. Hopefully Microsoft will not continuously treat their products with this attitude, but who knows? But if it doesn't care, why do we have to? We always have other options.

  • mnm4e
    7 Posts

    UPDATE OF PROBLEMS:

    Please read carefully as the following list of issues that have been occurring, has been updated.

    1. Yellow banner keeps coming up saying: " We've updated Hotmail, so please refresh your browser or close it and sign in again. If you are composing a message, make sure you save it as a draft."

    Plus now a yellow banner that says (not sure of correct wording) to simply sign in again because every now and then Hotmail needs do that for some reason, like being signed in for over 24 hours. Well I have only been signed in for 15 mins!! (more information given below in point 8)

    2. After replying to an email (or forwarding an email), and clicking SEND, the message is sent and a window is displayed with this: Your message has been sent. And gives me the option to Return to inbox. When I do click the "Return to inbox" link, I am NOT returned to my inbox, but instead I am returned to the message that I was replying to (or forwarding).

    3. When in my Inbox, I choose the emails that I want to delete, then hit the delete hyperlink, it updates the page, but the emails I chose to delete are still there! This also happened in the Delete folder, I could not delete (not talking about or using “empty folder” hyperlink) as I had some that I wanted to mark as phishing scams. This happened quite a few times using a home (Dell) computer and it happened at work also, and I use an Apple computer at work.

    4. Another silly thing that is happening is the notification emails to notify that a reply was posted for a thread in Windows Live Solution Centre all go to the junk mail folder!! Why can't Hotmail recognise its own affiliated help site, it is called Windows Live Solution Centre!!! This also includes The Windows Blog site! The Windows Blog site is worse it is a suspicious site! (see point 7 below)!  I should not have to add any of these to my “safe list” or contacts so that they won’t go to junk! They are all from Microsoft!! This one is real silly! It should be fixed.

    5. Also, on 11 Mar, I notice another yellow banner! Which is on top of the Windows Live Solution Centre page this very moment, which is the latest I presume, it says:  “There is currently an issue reported that may impact your ability to use our products and services.”

    And if you click anywhere near the above banner it changes to: “Family safety is having technical problems. You might see error messages when you use some Family Safety features.”  HUH???

    6. On top of all this the consistant freezing of Hotmail! I called my internet provider and they said my internet connection is fine, there must be an issue with Hotmail. And there is.

    7. And recently, some of my emails are being labelled as suspicious when they are not. This also includes notification emails from The Windows Blog site! (see point 4 above) I get a red banner message saying: “This message looks very suspicious to our SmartScreen filters, so we've blocked attachments, pictures, and links for your safety. Show content” What makes it ludicrous is the fact that I have been getting emails from this store for many years, it has never gone into my junk folder, and now I get this stupid message!

    8. Yellow banner (not sure of correct wording) to simply sign in again because every now and then Hotmail needs do that for some reason, like being signed in for over 24 hours. Well I have only been signed in for 15 mins, so I do sign out, and when I do it takes me to a page that says: Sign-out isn't complete... Finish signing out. Try clearing all of your browser cookies, and then close all browser windows. How?

    I do not need to do that, I have an anti virus that does the clearing out of the browser cookies every night! I just turned on my computer and signed into Hotmail!! There is no overload of cookies in my browser!

    8 PROBLEMS! Does anyone care? Please please please care!

  • mnm4e
    7 Posts

    And there is more!!!

    I don’t know what to say to show and explain how much I am frustrated about these problems!!!

    An email that is in my contact list and been getting "safe" emails from, for the past 4 years, is now unsafe according to Hotmail’s SmartScreen filter!

    Even when I click on the show content hyperlink, that silly red banner does not go away, NORMALLY there is a “Wait it’s safe” hyperlink option, when I choose to show content, why is it, that now, I don’t get that option?....!!!!!!

    And I just noticed that today I received an email from a site that yesterday had a red unsafe banner, and today it does not have a red unsafe banner!

    Why is an email that came from the same site, with the same address safe one day then unsafe the next?

    So is Hotmail’s SmartScreen filter a joke!

    What is going on??

  • mnm4e
    7 Posts

    I am so fed up!!

    I keep getting that stupid yellow banner saying that I must sign in again! Why? I just signed in 15 mins ago!!!

    And when I do sign out, it takes me to a page that says:

    Sign-out isn't complete...              Finish signing out

                                                             Try clearing all of your browser cookies, and then close all browser windows.

                                                             How?

    I do not need to do that, I have an anti virus that does the clearing out of the browser cookies every night! I just turned on my computer and signed into hotmail!! There is no overload of cookies in my browser!!!

    This is now the 8th stupid issue I am having!

    How much time must pass, and how many more problems must develop before solutions are found for the existing ones??

    Will there ever be a time when an existing problem is fixed before a new one starts??

    I am speechless, sooooo disappointed, I am actually hurt, Microsoft has been part of my life for over 20 years! I do not know what to say or think about MS anymore! My loyalty is slowly but surly diminishing! :((

  • @mnm4e: I, too, have been deeply hurt by the Hotmail for the past the few months. I also feel a bit let down by the Hotmail in terms of User Experience. The Silverlight issue, the long outages, the wrong identification of 'suspicious messages', inability to identify messages from their sister (group) sites are some of the examples of bad experience.

    Hope Hotmail team improve this as early as they can! otherwise they are already on the way to see Hotmail on #2 very soon.

  • mnm4e
    7 Posts

    I am getting “Red Labelled” too!!

    I have been getting an automated email from a store for over 3 years, has never went to junk, but the last one I received to my Inbox (on the 11 Mar) from that same store, is now a suspicious email!

    It has the same warning as the The Windows Blog email.

    It has never been a “suspicious email” before this, ever!

    And eamil address is in my contact list!

    What is going on?

  • mnm4e
    7 Posts

    Oh lord! I just checked my junk folder, and the automated email from the windows blog is there!

    Hotmail is saying:

    This message looks very suspicious to our SmartScreen filters, so we've blocked attachments, pictures, and links for your safety. Show content

    So The Windows Blog is a suspicious site! Should we be on it, if so??

    I really think all affiliated sites should be recognised by Hotmail! It is so silly that no one has noticed this and fixed it.

  • mnm4e
    7 Posts

    Thanks @trulyindian for bring up this problem, because I completely forgot about it, I too am having issues with attaching multiple files in Hotmail, and not having Silverlight installed on my PC.

    Being forced to use a “feature” is not productive for Microsoft, I will just use Gmail or yahoo.

    So I am having more issues not less. Old problems are not being resolved, and new ones keep coming up!

    It is not encouraging.

    It is not getting better but worse.

    Why is this??

    I am at a loss as to understand why it is being allowed to continue for so long.

    So sad. Not satisfied. Makes me turn away and not want to use Hotmail.

    It is not getting out of control, it is out of control, a year ago!!! :(

  • One more Hotmail annoyance I am facing today:

    Most of the messages I am opening today in my inbox are marked as suspicious "Red labelled"

    "This message looks very suspicious to our SmartScreen filters, so we've blocked attachments, pictures, and links for your safety.

    Show content"

    This whole content (or line) is shown at the top of the message. These senders are safe and Hotmail never recognised them as suspicious. Don't know what happened today why it is recognising those messages as suspicious. I am really amazed for the past few months whether Hotmail is improving itself or getting down in comparison to other service.

  • Ronald
    22 Posts

    +1 trulyindian regarding attaching multiple files in Hotmail

    In SkyDrive one can add (multiple) files by dragging and dropping these files into the window if the browser is html5 Drag and Drop file compliant.

    Please enable dragging and dropping attachments in and out of a message (when composing and reading mail) in Hotmail too..

    Two other features i would like to ask for:

    Enable the option to send mail for aggregated email accounts via that account’s smtp server instead of Hotmail, because now email sent as if from another account will bear a "From x@hotmail.com on behalf of x@example.com" header and makes some spam filters skittish.

    More frequent retrievals of new mail on other mail accounts (pop3) or at least the possibility to manually check for new mail by pressing a button.

  • langware
    154 Posts

    I agree with trulyindian ... especially the requirement to install Silverlight in order to get the full set of features for attaching files.

    Regarding availability issues .... there is a yellow banner displayed on the Windows Live Solution Center and status dot live dot com shows this status for Family Safety  ...

    Mar 10 4:44 PM Family Safety is having technical problems. You might see error messages when you use some Family Safety features.

    Even accounting for the hour lost this morning, this outage has now existed for over 18 hours with no better explanation of the problem (i.e., how is Family Safety impacted), any temporary work-arounds, current status, or ETA for resolution.

    And now there is a new Hotmail outage (also shown in WLSC's yellow banner) and described by this status message from status dot live dot com ...

    Mar 11 12:15 PM Hotmail is having problems signing in to other POP3 email accounts. You might see error messages sending or receiving email from these accounts.

    This outage is currently only one hour old ... hopefully it will be quickly resolved.

    Much room for improvement in reliability and availability.

  • Although I am a loyal Hotmail user and pretty satisfied with it also, but I would also like to echo some of the voices of the people from Last comments. Regarding "Yellow problem banner", I have been using Hotmail for so many years but never faced this bug, but for the last few months it has also been affecting my accounts. One or two times it might be understandable, but every time is just out of the mind. I completely agree with @JANISUM in this regard.

    The problem with Hotmail Outages and the issues with WLSC are ever present. The WLSC support should rather be renamed as WL harassment centre (I am deliberately using such harsh language so that WINDOWS LIVE TEAM could understand its real situation). As @langware mentioned that there are so many long long outages in recent past in Hotmail without any(or proper) explanation, this is completely unacceptable.

    Completely agree with all the points raised by @mnm4e.

    One more issue, I recently found, when tried to attach multiple files in Hotmail I could not. Reason: I did not have Silverlight installed on my PC. When I tried other providers like Gmail, yahoo I could attach multiple files at the same time (without silverlight). So, it means if I have to attach multiple files then I must have Silverlight and if it is not available then I must install it first. I think this is crazy (let get other people opinion also). That means if I have to use different PCs then I must first check whether they have Silverlight or not to use Hotmail conveniently. Is it bearable? I think not.

    CRUX: I think Hotmail UI seriously needs to be redesigned. Or at least these finer things should be improved as early as possible.

  • mnm4e
    7 Posts

    I would like put my frustrations forward so as to hopefully be part of the thousands of voices that will push for solutions that should have been completed a long while ago. I know you may know of most of the following issues, but it seems they need to be mentioned until they are rectified and able to stay that way.

    Problems that I have been experiencing:

    1. Yellow banner keeps coming up saying:

    " We've updated Hotmail, so please refresh your browser or close it and sign in again. If you are composing a message, make sure you save it as a draft."...

    2. After replying to an email (or forwarding an email), and clicking SEND, the message is sent and a window is displayed with this: Your message has been sent

    Return to inbox

    When I do click the "Return to inbox" link, I am NOT returned to my inbox, but instead I am returned to the message that I was replying to (or forwarding).

    3. When in my Inbox, I choose the emails that I want to delete, then hit the delete hyperlink, it updates the page, but the emails I chose to delete are still there! This also happened in the Delete folder, I could not delete (not empty folder) as I had some that I wanted to mark as phishing scams. This happened quite a few times using a home (Dell) computer and it happened at work also, and I use an Apple computer at work.

    4. Another silly thing that is happening is the notification emails to notify that a reply was posted for a thread in Windows Live Solution Centre all go to the junk mail folder!! Why can't Hotmail recognise its own affiliated help site, it is called Windows Live Solution Centre!!! I should not have to add it to my “safe list” or contacts so that it won’t go to junk! This one is real silly! It should be fixed.

    5. Also, today another yellow banner came up! Which is on top of the Windows Live Solution Centre page this very moment, which is the latest I presume, it says:

    “There is currently an issue reported that may impact your ability to use our products and services.”

    And if you click anywhere near the above banner it changes to:

    “Family safety is having technical problems. You might see error messages when you use some Family Safety features.”

    HUH???

    6. On top of all this the freezing of Hotmail! I called my internet provider and they said my internet connection is fine, there must be an issue with Hotmail. And there is.

    6 problems! Not good.

    I really think that Windows Live Solution Centre, should not have the word “live” in its title, we do not get solutions we get automated responses that it has been sent to someone and it is being looked into, and to be some what “live”, problems must be resolved with-in a moderate reasonable time frame, not over 12 hours, days, weeks or months later!

    Please help us understand, what kind of hoo-ha is going on? What has happened to quality service? Please bring it back. We do not want quantity of excuses and palm offs! Please put yourself in our place, would you appreciate all the delay and all the excuses? I am certain you would not! Nothing about this situation is right. I am certain that if this was a store that one can walk in and ask for the “manager” and discuss the issues, it would have been resolved long ago. But as this is all “faceless” to a degree, Microsoft is getting away with it.

    When an issue arises, we need to know: When is the issue going to be resolved! What are the Microsoft tech team doing?

    Or maybe the questions should be: Are the Microsoft tech team able to fix it? Maybe its time for some internal changes to get solutions! These issues must be rectified as it is so annoying when we are trying to do our work wether it’s personal or secular.

    Please enough delay tactics! Why are you allowing this to happen? We love Microsoft truly, and that is why you are getting bitter disappointment from us.

    Can you feel the frustrations and disappointments! Well we are! Lord are we! So please please please fix faster and communicate clearly with us more.

    Regards

    One of the many thousands of Solution Advocates. :)

  • langware
    154 Posts

    @spring,

    I agree with you that Hotmail's reputation could be improved ... but I do feel that part of Hotmail's reputation is based on a problem with quality.

    Some of that quality is good (i.e., the latest efforts to address graymail), but part of that quality is poor  ...

    ... poor quality in the support provided by The Windows Live Solution Center, poor quality in the frequency that customer's accounts are still being hijacked (there are many ways to improve this such as increased authentication requirements if the sign-on is not from the user's designated IP address, two-factor authentication, etc), and poor quality in the availability of Hotmail's .... here's the official status (from status dot live dot com) for Hotmail's latest outage ....

    Mar 09 5:43 PM Fixing the problem is taking longer than we hoped. We'll provide an update by Mar 10 5:43 PM. We apologize for the lengthy interruption in service.

    Mar 10 10:52 AM The problem has been fixed. Thanks for your patience.

    Notice that (by Microsoft's own account) this problem took 17 hours. No explanation of why the problem took 17 hours to fix, no description of what will be done in the future to avoid similar lengthy outages.

    Hotmail suffers from too many such lengthy outages where customer's access to their email is impacted, and the Windows Live Solution Center is clueless as to the cause and the ETA for when customer's access to Hotmail will be available.

    IMHO  .... to improve Hotmail's reputation, Microsoft needs to address the quality of support, quality of security, and quality of Hotmail's availability.

  • spring
    14 Posts

    I think there is no big problem with the quality of Hotmail although many bugs exist. The big trouble with Hotmail is the brand. Hotmail has such a bad reputation in US that many people connect it with junk emails. Although Hotmail is the most popular email service worldwide, it may soon be surpassed by Gmail. Hotmail has quite many domains (hotmail.com, msn.com, live.com, live.ca, live.cn, etc), but none is as attractive as Gmail.com. With the current size of inbox and quality of service, people tend to use one or two email addresses for life, so hotmail will have even harder time in future. I have email addresses on both @Live.com and gmail, for more than four years, I tried to use my ID@live.com as my primary email ID, but everytime when I gave it to other people, few people knew it and I had to explain that it was a real email service from Microsoft. A couple months ago, I changed all my email work to gmail, life has become much easier.

  • langware
    154 Posts

    Dick Craddock:

    I agree with janisum.

    The inability of The Windows Live Solution Center to provide meaningful responses to customer's complaints is a long-standing problem. You keep promising that some improvements will be made ... but the same problem remains:  the Windows Live Solution Center's Moderators can answer "how to" questions, and provide links to scripted solutions for common problems, but when outages re-occur, when bugs are reported, when uncommon issues are posted .... the Moderators can only respond with "your issue has been forwarded to the Hotmail Team and is under investigation". When asked for an ETA on problem resolution, they can only say "we do not know".

    There's got to be a better way of keeping your customers informed on the resolution of issues they report. The web sites with status (status dot live dot com) often show one thing while the yellow banner in the Windows Live Solution Center (and the Moderator's corresponding comments) often say something completely different. Very confusing to your customers.  

    Over five months ago, I reported a bug in Hotmail's User Interface that is 100% repeatable. All I get  from the Windows Live Solution Center is that the bug is "under investigation". After five months, if you have no intention of fixing the bug I reported, at least have the courtesy to tell me.

    In the previous post, ianisum is reporting a problem that he/she has observed for years. Obviously, the messages "hotmail is being updated, refresh browser, save message as draft ..." and "Hotmail wasn't able to sign in this time, please try again later" are catch alls for common problems .... but these common problems seem to remain unresolved and continue to impact Hotmail's availability. Glitches often occur when new releases are rolled out.

    Outages cannot be totally eliminated, but keeping your customers better informed when outages do occur is an achievable goal.

    How about some measurable improvements in Hotmail's reliability and in the quality of support provided by the Windows Live Solution Center (would be very nice to see regular posts from members of your team in the Windows Live Solution Center) ... please find ways to better connect with your customers and give us reasonable/timely/meaningful status to issues we report!

    Thanks!

  • janisum
    1 Posts

    This issue w/ the Hotmail msgs. "hotmail is being updated, refresh browser, save message as draft blah,..........." and "Hotmail wasn't able to sign in this time, please try again later" has been a ongoing problem for several years and I have experienced it lately again as many others are!!  The hotmail forums are only moderators who can't give anything other than, "we are working on this issue, unfortunately we don't have a est. time when update will be released". It is very annoying and not only that the yellow bar is appearing but it also messes w/ ability to send messages, browse, etc.. It seem to be a server issue. Since this has been happening for several years and is still appearing, there is obviously a problem within Hotmail that needs to be resolved for good. There is nowhere to go for answers other than the forums and as I said before, it's only moderators who are not keyed in on the issue by Microsoft. Why can they not get a engineer to jump in every so often to answer us with the truth. We deserve at least that much.

  • gorzko
    24 Posts

    @trulyindian

    Just search for "hotmail mailto" in Chrome Web Store.

  • @gorzko: My preferable browser is IE. Is there any plugin for the same? Anyways Can you guide what type of plugin you are talking for Chrome and how to install it? But even then this would be more convenient if they can integrate this functionality in Hotmail itself coz its far more easier the Gmail's way (i.e. asking user whether they want to setup Hotmail as default email client in Browser) than trying installing plugin to get a workaround.

  • gorzko
    24 Posts

    @trulyindian

    My Chrome opens mailto: links in Hotmail. You just need a plug-in.

  • @hotmail team: www.pcworld.com/.../chrome_now_able_to_open_email_links_in_gmail.html

    This is why the Gmail is people's first choice.

    No doubt, hotmail has been improving but the improvement rate is not that good as it should be. Gmail gets updated every now and then for some extremely useful features (like this one) whereas Hotmail generally upgrades on long intervals and features are not up to expectations (except last release or may be releases which included Graymail, Sweep).

    Talking about this feature whenever I click on mailto link on any windows PC it opens up either Windows mail or Outlook which are very slow and not even setup on every PC. So why cant Hotmail enable this feature at least for Internet Explorer considering Gmail already has this for IE and firefox (or if this available already, which is a extremely rare case then Please let me know how to do that).

    This has been requested by many people on this blog and other sites as well. But no improvement so far. Hope to see this extremely useful feature as early as possible.

  • abm
    268 Posts

    While composing the email in Gmail if we type the email address of a new person with the following format, it creates a new contact:

    Given Name <emailATdomain.com>

    Please deploy this functionality in Hotmail.

  • These changes won't matter to me since the old UI is still used for mail box and other Live services. What I'm seeing is many web services recently introduced or renewed their pages with new UI which is simpler, more elegant, less cluttered. Some Microsoft pages are doing the same with Metro UI too. So the question is why Windows Live.com UI is standing  still? Please do something with Metro!!!

  • spring
    14 Posts

    While the anti-spam ability of Hotmail has been improved significantly, sometime it may do too much. I use my live email ID to register accounts on a couple websites, but cannot receive the confirmation emails. When I change to other email addresses, all the confirmation emails from these websites can be received. I guess live/hotmail may be too strict in filtering spam or emails from unfamiliar domains.

  • @Langware. We're investigating the issues that you note from the Solution Center, but these issues are not likely related. The issue that we resolved today was impacting only a small % of users who also had SSL turned on. We don't have the exact number of users impacted, but it is far lower than 3.5M.

  • Well it would seem the problem is resolved in my case.  Thank you.

  • Thanks for the quick response.  I'll post back when the issue is resolved.

  • langware
    154 Posts

    @David Dennis,

    The problem that HarleyGuy mentioned (getting this message: "We've updated Hotmail, so please refresh your browser or close it and sign in again. If you are composing a message, make sure you save it as a draft.") is being discussed in a thread on the Windows Live Solution Center.

    The thread was started on January 26. It is now Feb 24 and you say the problem will be resolved in a few hours.

    Can you tell us why it took from January 26 until Feb 24 to fix the problem?

    Also, you mentioned that this problem "is impacting a small number of users." Can you quantify that?

    If this problem "only" impacts 1% of Hotmail's users, that would be over 3.5 million accounts .... hardly a small number.

  • @HarleyGuy, we're working on resolving your issue right now. It is impacting a small number of users. It should be resolved in the next hour or two. You should be able to use Hotmail normally, but we recognize that the yellow bar not going away is annoying. We're sorry for that.

  • I have been receiving the following msg for several days;

    "We've updated Hotmail, so please refresh your browser or close it and sign in again. If you are composing a message, make sure you save it as a draft."

    I have refreshed several times.  Msg won't go away.

    I see from many sites that this problem has been around for some time now.

    When will the fix be available?

    Thank you.

  • Ronald
    22 Posts

    One thing that would make rules/sweep more useful is adding Mark as read to the Sweep menu or adding it to Select the action the rule applies list.

  • Thank you Microsoft for Hotmail.  I'll never go back to gmail again.

  • @abm – yep, I use that feature in Outlook and really like it. That’s a good thing to add. We’ll look at it for a future release.

  • @hohansen, tdmerse – these are great suggestions, too. We will definitely continue to improve Sweep, Schedule Cleanup, Rules and Categories, and your suggestions are super useful. Thanks.

  • @controlz - great suggestion. This is something we want, too, and we're looking at putting it in. Thanks.

  • +1 for @abm suggestion: Like Office 365..................... the attachments.

    +1 for @controlz suggestion: Feature suggestion: could you allow.......... go to the Newsletters folder?

  • controlz
    145 Posts

    Feature suggestion: could you allow us to make mail go into a certain folder if it has a category applied to it? For example, if incoming mail has the Newsletter category, it can automatically go to the Newsletters folder?

  • I agree with hohansen. Forums often send digest updates sorted by subject name. If I am a member of a website participating in discussions about "Skydrive on Windows 8" and also "Windows Phone 7 Tango", only keeping the latest email sorted by sender will delete one of those two digest updates. I don't know how widespread that issue is, but at least one other person desires the same functionality.

    Also, currently I have a folder set up for newsletters. I'm the kind of person that sorts that stuff out of my inbox so it isn't in my face until I have a moment to look at it. I also use Windows Live Mail and Mail on my Windows Phone so the Quick Views don't work for me in all situations. So, at the moment I have to create an individual rule for each sender which means I now have over 50 individual sorting rules. That makes managment hard. Almost 40 of those could be eliminated by allowing us to sort a category to a folder instantlywithout having to wait three days.

  • abm
    268 Posts

    Like Office365, please allow us to drag-drop other email messages into compose view, so we can send them as an attachment! Either drag-drop or add an option in the types of attachments; "email conversation" to select any email or full conversation from other any folder (including the attachments).

  • controlz
    145 Posts

    Hotmail's tools to 'combat' graymail are the best. I've now got newsletters being sweeped into a Newsletters folder, and then deleted after a certain amount of days (how long depends on the newsletter). I've got things set up in Hotmail that I could never dream of setting up in Gmail or Yahoo! or any other email service.

  • hohansen
    10 Posts

    One thing that would make "Schedule cleanup" way more useful for me is if I could only keep that last mail with the subject beginning with... My local store sends me two e-mails a week, one is this weeks list over items on sale and the other one is dinner tips. I want to keep every e-mail with dinner tips but only the latest of the other one. This is nor possible right now. And even though I can make a rule with "Subject" - "begins with" - " ..." the options does not include anything about schedule cleanup.