AltaVista Shuttering Free E-Mail

Search engine AltaVista began notifying its more than 400,000 users Tuesday that it is shutting down its free e-mail service.

The drop-dead date for e-mail delivery and usage for U.S. based accounts has been set at noon P.S.T. March 31st.

The Palo Alto-based firm and CMGI property says the decision is a part of AltaVista’s two-year refocus on its core business model.

“As a result, the company has rededicated to its original mission: providing Internet users with the world’s most comprehensive search engine and delivering relevant results, fast,” AltaVista released in an e-mail statement. “We urge you to act now to transition the e-mails and e-mail addresses that you would like to save to an alternative e-mail account. We also urge you to inform all of your e-mail correspondents of your alternative e-mail address as soon as possible, as we will not be able to offer automatic forwarding after March 31st.”

On the last day users will no longer be able to retrieve any e-mail data or access their accounts. For the protection of users’ privacy, the company says no e-mail data will be stored or archived by AltaVista for retrieval and automatic e-mail forwarding will cease.

“Just as AltaVista specializes in search services and software, there are
companies that specialize in providing e-mail accounts. Those companies are
best suited to meet users’ e-mail needs,” the company said in its e-mail.

To be fair, AltaVista says it will list links to additional sites that offer free e-mail services in the next 45 days. However, the company says the sites are in no way partnered or affiliated with AltaVista, nor does it guarantee their service.

The news comes on the heels that CMGI CEO David Wetherell is stepping down on the same day.

The controversial leader of Internet investor will stay on as chairman of the Andover, Mass., company.

Which begs the question… are the two stories related?

The company says no, but refused to comment further.

AltaVista’s refocus on its search technology was recently realized with the launch of an initiative to make it easier for searchers to delve into reaches of the Invisible Web, by providing “shortcuts” that point to high-quality deep web resources that other search engines typically can’t see.

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