The move comes just a few months after the launch of a global ad campaign for Hotmail, promoting a new-look inbox intended to make it easier to manage and view emails, along with pictures, video, and links that might be sent along with email messages.
The issue first emerged over the Christmas break, when the glitch mysteriously wiped out the folders of thousands of users. Inboxes and folders started emptying on December 30, with some affected accounts going back 10 years.
As one of the first user reports on the company’s Windows Live support forum put it, the experience was like having your account reset back to day one: “I refreshed my browser and logged back in, only to see a ‘Welcome to Hotmail’ email and all of my previous emails missing.”
The issue is affecting both the free and paid-for Hotmail Plus accounts with some people unable to access their accounts for up to four days.
Disgruntled users have also set up a Facebook group, entitled “Emails are missing from Hotmail account Since 30th Dec, WTH hotmail, urghhh.”
Microsoft corporate vice president for Windows Live Chris Jones has blamed the loss of messages on “mailbox load balancing between servers”, but did not provide details. “As with all incidents like this, we will fully investigate the cause and will take steps to prevent this from happening again,” Jones said.
Hotmail remains the Web’s most popular free email service with 360 million users, but during the last decade it lost momentum to Google’s Gmail in terms of new features and popularity, while the new Facebook Messages is threatening increased competition.
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