Live Mail Deprecates WebDAV for Epic Fail

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Microsoft has previously announced that they are going to stop using the DAV protocol on September 1, 2009 for all Windows Live Mail (AKA Hotmail) users. According to schedule, they shut WebDAV down today. We think this was a critical mistake, and that many users will be confused by the following information:

“What does this mean? Well, if you currently access Hotmail using a desktop mail program like Microsoft Office Outlook, Outlook Express, or Entourage, you may still be using the DAV protocol in these programs, and you’ll need to take action in order to continue getting your Hotmail. We’ll be sending mail to customers who are likely to be affected to let them know what they’ll need to do. Here is a quick summary.”

They go on to give users instructions on how to set up POP3 for their email clients. They make it seem like it’s not a big deal and fail to mention that there will be a significant change to your user experience from this point forward. If you have multiple email clients (e.g. a desktop with Entourage installed, a laptop with Outlook Express installed and you occasionally use the web client at the office) you will now have to mirror changes such as marking messages as “read” on all of your clients. It will no long be possible to get any mail you have in sub-folders (so if you have an “Invoices” folder for example it won’t show up in your mail client).

At Xtreme CPU we might have a slightly skewed perspective on how many computers an individual ought to own, but we don’t think it is unreasonable to assume that many people in 2009 and beyond will be accessing their email from more than one location / application. This is where Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) comes in to play by allowing you to keep your mail server as the authoritative source and pull messages to your local client when you need them. Microsoft has historically offered WebDAV as an alternative to IMAP (it provides the same basic functionality), but now they apparently want to force users to log in via their web mail client.

While we can only guess at the motivation behind this, we think it’s important to note that when you check your email account with an email client like Thunderbird you do not see any advertisements from Windows Live. When you log in to Windows Live Mail via their web client you do see advertisements from Windows Live.

So, how are users reacting to the news? We decided to check the Windows Live Support forum to see. As far as we can tell, users aren’t happy:

Those are the first threads we happened to see on this issue. There are many more threads of this nature on the support forum right now. Perhaps the recent Gmail outage was caused by a mass migration to Gmail from another email service that recently pulled the plug on a protocol that many people still use.

Discuss this in the forums.

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