RealTime IT News

MSN Hotmail to POP3 Freeloaders: Pay Up

Microsoft today announced it would turn off POP3 e-mail retrieval from its free Hotmail service, effective July 16. The move is part of an aggressive push to sell MSN Extra Storage e-mail services.

"We are sorry to inform you that as of July 16, 2002, we will no longer be able to offer POP Mail Retrieval to our Hotmail users with a standard free account. This means that you will not be able to aggregate e-mail from various accounts into a single Hotmail account," the company said in an email to Hotmail users.

To continue using the POP3 feature, Microsoft said users must pony up $19.95 a year to access premium e-mail services. While basic Hotmail accounts remain free, premium subscribers get 10MB of Hotmail storage, which is about five times what freeloaders get. It would also allow Hotmail users to send and receive larger attachments -- up to 1.5MB per message -- and up to 30MB of MSN Communities storage, used primarily to store images on MSN's servers.

Subscribers also get an exemption from the account expiration policy, MSN said.

The Hotmail announcement mirrors a recent move my mega-portal Yahoo to turn off the free portion of its POP3 retrieval and e-mail forwarding services.

From April 24, free POP3 and Auto Mail Forwarding services for Yahoo subscribers went the premium route, continuing the recent trend among bigger Internet companies to convert freeloaders into paying customers.

Yahoo's price tag for the premium e-mail services is set at $29.99 and it allows Microsoft Outlook, Eudora, or other POP3 clients to manage Yahoo Mail and would also automatically forward mail to specified accounts. Yahoo's package also allows POP3 users to send larger attachments of up to 5MB. The former limit was 1.5MB.

Terra Lycos, another big player in the consumer portal space, also jumped in the premium arena with the launch of a fee-based games on demand service and other premium consumer offerings to offset the year-long slump in advertising revenue.

Other paid sites from Lycos include Tripod, Angelfire, MatchMaker and Lycos InSite.