RealTime IT News

Wireless Hotmail Goes Premium

Freeloaders accessing Microsoft's Hotmail from cell phones or wireless devices will have to start paying an annual $19.99 fee to connect to the service.

The free access to MSN Hotmail on wireless devices will expire on December 3 and replaced with a new fee-based MSN Mobile service offering Web access, calendar, wireless alerts, MSN instant messaging in addition to Hotmail e-mail access, according to an Amsterdam-based Microsoft users blog started by Steven Bink.

The move to put one of its popular freebies behind the premium curtain comes on the heels of Microsoft's decision to turn off POP3 e-mail retrieval from free Hotmail service. That attempt to convert its massive Hotmail user base into paying customers was part of an aggressive push to sell MSN Extra Storage e-mail services.

The latest MSN Mobile premium offering will also be used to shuttle content exclusively from the MSN portal. For instance, the MSN Mobile Web service will plug users into the MSN site for weather, news and sports.

Microsoft is not the only company aggressively pushing its users towards the paid subscription model or killing off freebies altogether. Earlier this year, Sun Microsystems also pulled the plug on its free MySun e-mail service.

Like Microsoft, mega portal Yahoo also scrapped free POP3 retrieval and implemented a plan to charge for e-mail add-on services.