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My first ever e-mail address was a hotmail one. I was very new to the Internet, my parents had an e-mail address for family matter, but I wanted one to for all my private stuff, friends they would not approve of, etc. Being part of the Microsoft network, and one of the most popular web based e-mail places, I was brought in one shear brand name recognition. I can remember when I first got my hotmail, the thrill of having a new message, feeling important, ah, I was young and carefree and memories aplenty.
Ok, so I am not that good at writing my memoirs and recollection of the past time, I am only 16 and time does take on a different meaning at this age. That was about two or three years ago now, at first I loved my hotmail account, then I went off it for over a year, before in the last three months coming back with a bang. I needed a private e-mail, not that I was doing anything dodgy or illegal, I just wanted to be able to contact my mates simply and easily, do things without my dad asking exactly what everything I got was, and so on. I still need the privacy; I have made some good friends, and still have things I would not want to share with others. I would be lost with out my hotmail, I want to give all the details, why I left, and why I have come back.
First a little about hotmail. It can be found at www.hotmail.com, where it is part of the all-conquering Microsoft network on the web. Hotmail is basically a free web based e-mail system. From here I want to say that I know very little about computers, I don’t understand any jargon, and try not to use big words that other or I will not understand. Being web based, you can access it from any computer in the world, not just your own. This understandably gives a bit advantage for easy and adaptability of use. It is part of the Microsoft network, and is linked closely with their portal www.msn.com, and their instant messenger service, cunningly titled MSN Messenger. All the systems can be worked together, though I feel no pressure to get any, or either of these services.
The sign up for hotmail can take some time, but you are guided throughout and is straightforward and simple. Go to www.hotmail.com, chose signup, where it will take you through to the pages you need. You are required to fill in personal details like name, address, and so on, as well as a password that has to be at least six characters long. You are then able to choose your username, which then also forms your e-mail address. For example my username is chris_padden, which then turns into my hotmail address of firstname.lastname@example.org. Be warned that it is a popular service, used worldwide, so be smart and think of a good username, but lots of names have been taken already. If you chosen username is already taken, you are asked to choose again and offered some new choices. Try adding numbers to your name if your ideas for names are being constantly rejected. Then you have to agree to the terms and conditions, and are asked some questions about your interests and if you want to sign up for any newsletters. All in all, you are well directed, but it is time consuming and you often have to struggle with a unique username.
Once you have signed up, your hotmail account is active. To access it, go onto the hotmail home page, this time log in using the username and password you selected in sign up. This then takes you up to your main account page. Here it is again pretty easy to use, with tabs in the top to take you to other area of your account. All are labeled with what it under there, the tabs are inbox, compose, address book and home.
- Home is a news page, telling about promotions and offers through Microsoft, and links to other parts of the Internet. Many of these are good, with information, news and articles that are often worth a read. Also there is advertising, not that the site needs it, but it never gets crammed and pop-ups are rare.
- Inbox is where all the messages that have been sent to your hotmail address are stored, both ones you have read and are yet to read. It is easy to navigate, the tab at the top of the page will move you here, and it appears in every page you visit. To read a message click on the subject, and you will be taken to it. You can also choose to delete messages of move them to a different folder from here.
- Compose is used to write an e-mail to others using you hotmail address. It is easy, and just like any other e-mail, where you need to type in the address of the person you are writing to and the subject and the main message. Messages to other hotmail users are delivered instantly.
Overall hotmail is very easy to move around, there are plenty of self-explanatory links to navigate around your account. Sending mail is easy, as is reading all your new messages. It both works effectively, while looking good. The light shade of blue as part of a redesign works well. Microsoft are clearly trying to sell as much stuff or theirs as they can, so be prepared for several invitations to other areas of MSM, but it is a great site overall.
The general site is very fast. Pages load quickly, no matter what connection you have. There is sometimes a lot of moving between messages, so this is a big bonus. Mail is received and sent quickly, aside from the instant transfer of messages between hotmail accounts. You are also able to get your hotmail account to work in another Microsoft product, Outlook Express. There is a way of doing this in the options of you Outlook program; I guess you are able to use it in other e-mail programs. For me though I defies the point of having a web based e-mail that you can access anywhere, so I have not tried this.
There are restrictions on the size of attachments to e-mails sent through hotmail, and it is also quite hard to get them on in the first place. You are allowed a maximum of 1 mega byte per file, which is not very much at all when you are starting to send pictures and work across and a total of 2 mega bytes is not enough for some, and gives outlook an advantage. To attach a file, write your message as normal, then click on the link just above the main text and you will be asked to select where the file you want to send is stored on your computer. It then takes some time to load up, and the receiver then has to download the files onto their computer. All files are automatically virus scanned.
The one main point of compliant I have about hotmail, and the single most important factor I left hotmail all that time ago was the amount of spam of junk mail. This is a problem with pretty much all e-mail programs on the web, but for hotmail it just reached an unacceptable level. At its peak I was receiving up to 10 unwanted messages a day, and it simply was not good enough. Much of it was of an adult nature, I just deleted it straight away, but as there is no age restriction for hotmail, very young children could potentially be exposed. As with all the systems on the Internet hotmail is not immune from hacks or attacks. Some people may use the hotmail e-mail address to purchase goods, so their credit card details could be exposed. Also stalkers and other people with sinister aims could get hold of your e-mail and some pretty scary stuff can be done on here. I have not had any problems, all you need to do is be a little bit more careful, or just not use your hotmail account for any potentially sensitive information. If you start getting any unwanted hassle on hotmail, or in particular MSN messenger, then do not hesitate to contact the authorities or the providers, don’t risk anything. Any file that is sent as an attachment via hotmail is scanned for viruses, again I never download anything bar from close friends, and a personal anti-virus kit may not go amiss. Again I have never had any problems, but the risk is there.
Coming back to the junk mail problem, there are filters for unwanted messages, where you can select words or e-mail addresses that will not get through to you. I have not set this on my account; I found the junk mail came through the filters I set. Maybe I was not doing it properly, but I have never had much luck with them. The removal of messages though is much easier and is a very good thing. To delete any message click on a box to the left hand side of the message in the deleting column, and click on ok. The message will be sent to the trash can, where you can manually delete the message permanently, or it will go after a short period of time.
To be fair the spam has settled down a lot. I get an average of one junk mail a day, which is gone instantly. The site is simple to use and navigate, while being fast and efficient. I quit because of the spam, and left to join yahoo for their free e-mail service, but I have come back to hotmail, for all its faults and being run by Microsoft it does have plenty of redeeming features. It is very convenient, easy to access wherever you want, and really works. It allows me to have some privacy while I know that I am safe. It is a great service with some nice features, especially MSN messenger. Very good, I rate this as my favourite web e-mail.