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Netscape WebMail boasts an impressive six million plus account holders. Slightly less impressive is the fact that 480,000 of them are being forced to change their usernames following "improvements" to the service. Netscape is combining the CompuServe, AOL and Netscape databases and almost half a million users have been notified that they will have to change their mail addresses to avoid duplicates. To add insult to injury, a software glitch has also shut some people out of their email completely. The upgrade is aimed at making the mail system faster, building in spam protection, and integrating email with Netscape instant messenger. Some users trying to pick new usernames got error messages telling them to try again after 24 hours. But it is claimed that many of them still couldn't get into their mail the next day. Netscape told customers about the upgrade by email on the day it took place, but rather unfortunately, some customers didn't receive the notice at all because, er, um, they were locked out of their accounts. "Those of us mandated to make this change are locked out of our email for at least 24 hours by an arbitrary, badly planned, unannounced decision by some executives that don't give a damn how much we depend on our email," spits one angry user. "So, my advice to all WebMail users is this: Get out while you can!" ®

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