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Hotmail pulls Attach-Photo feature over security concerns

Stealth suspension explained

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Microsoft has suspended the "Attach-Photo" feature in Hotmail as a result of security concerns.

Webmail users can still add photos as attachments to Hotmail messages, just not in the same way as before. Microsoft expects to restore the suspended feature by the end of September.

Microsoft spoke about the recent suspension in postings to the Windows Live blog here and help pages here on Thursday.

Redmond explains the feature was suspended after testing unearthed a security glitch involving the interaction of its feature with IE.

Some of you may have noticed that lately, you can no longer add photos directly into the body of a Windows Live Hotmail message the way you used to do. The Windows Live team is constantly reviewing Hotmail to ensure quality service to our customers.

During a recent review, we identified an incompatibility with Internet Explorer that caused a security flaw with photo uploads, and we made the decision to temporarily remove the feature.

The Hotmail team takes security very seriously and we expect to bring back the photo upload feature by the end of September. In the meantime, you can still add pictures as attachments to your Hotmail messages, by clicking Attach, and then selecting the picture you want to include.

Microsoft apologised for any inconvenience resulting from the suspension. The feature was actually pulled around four weeks ago (since 24 July or thereabouts) but Microsoft only went public on Thursday. In the interim many users expressed confusion and frustration in Hotmail forums.

The technology was reportedly pulled because of a dodgy ActiveX control but no further information is available at the time of writing. Reading between the lines, it looks like Microsoft will address the flaw with an IE update during the September edition of Patch Tuesday followed by the restoration of the feature a few weeks later. It almost goes without saying but this timetable is subject to change. ®

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