Feeds

Microsoft updates Hotmail to deal with grey spam

Redmond strives to remake its web mail as (somehow) relevant

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Microsoft is making a series of changes to its Hotmail service aimed at cutting down the amount of old mail stuck on servers, falsely labeled spam.

Redmond reckons that only about two per cent of inbox email is actually bona fide spam, with the bulk unwanted newsletter deals and alerts that were signed up for and are now either forgotten or no longer of interest – what Microsoft calls "grey mail".

“What really characterizes graymail is that the same message that one person thinks is 'spam' could be really important to another person. It’s not black and white, hence the name,” Hotmail group program manager Dick Craddock writes in the Windows Live blog.

“Despite the drastic decrease of true spam in the inbox," he says, "we found that most customers are still seeing newsletters, product offers, and other clutter. In fact, 75 per cent of email identified as spam by our customers actually turns out to be unwanted graymail that they receive as a result of having signed up on a legitimate website.”

Over the next few months Microsoft will roll out new features to combat this problem. First, the company will apply its anti-spam engine to newsletters and set up a separate folder in users' inboxes especially for such content. A single-click unsubscribe function is also being added so that users can clean their own email, and the results will be fed back to other accounts to improve the service.

To clean existing mail, a Scheduled Cleanup function will delete emails older than three, 10, 30, or 60 days, and can scan through multiple emails from the same sender and just keep the most recent one. Important emails, such as bank statements can be automatically archived as well.

Email classification has been upgraded, so that users can select their own email categories and index to suit themselves, and file-management tools have been beefed up to allow in-file cleaning and folders within folders. Important emails can also be pinned on the main inbox page to stop them from getting lost.

All these changes should clean out some user’s inboxes, and will also coincidentally free up a lot of space on Hotmail servers, saving Microsoft money. But they come at a time when Hotmail is still seen as being yesterday’s web email service. Redmond is keen to get Hotmail back on people’s radar, and further improvements have been promised.

But unless El Reg is wrong it’ll take more than this to make Hotmail as respected as Redmond would like. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
Carders punch holes through Staples
Investigation launched into East Coast stores
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.