I’ll preface this by saying I’m looking for employment, and Microsoft is definitely one of the companies for which I’d like to work. At the same time, and at the risk of being deuced by them, the new Hotmail is another example of the wide gap between Web 2.0 and Microsoft. (Hint: if you hire me, I’ll help you out!).

I was really looking forward to checking out the new Hotmail. Having shown my spouse and friends the glory of gmail as opposed to clunky old Hotmail, I was really looking to see whether I should leapfrog back to Microsoft for my mail browser. After all, 2Gb does get eaten up eventually, and it would be nice to go to a web browser (the primordial SaaS!) with great features.

Alas and alack. The one thing I looked for wasn’t. A simple thing. A little feature that spells the difference between software as a service and service as addiction.

  • Filters? Sort of check.
  • E-mail signatures? Check.
  • Bragging rights of being a beta tester? Check.
  • Mail forwarding? What, are you kidding? All your e-mail are belong to us.

In other words, Microsoft has made the terrible mistake of thinking that a really nice GUI could be a softer, gentler set of handcuffs than MS Outlook for keeping users corralled in MS-space.

Don’t get me wrong, Google (hosts of this blog, for the purposes of full disclosure) does the same thing. But Google’s “handcuffs” are in the form form of great features that don’t hem the user in. I could host this blog on my Windows-based web site just as easily as on a Linux one. And connect it to RSS feeds or other throughputs without thinking about the corporate underpinnings. Forward my e-mails to Hotmail, or a personally-managed e-mail server. That I’m using Blogger (and Gmail, and Google pages, and Google documents, etc.) is a testament not to my enslavement to the mighty Google, but to the forthright, non-acquisitive nature of their web tools.

This is unfortunately yet another example of the inner nervousness, the insecurity, that has scarred, not marked, Microsoft in this market. It’s a great enough company, with fantastic enough features, not to have to create artificial limits on its users. And each limitation, no matter how trivial it might seem, is viewed as yet another indicator that Microsoft can’t let go of it’s craving for domination long enough to let the market see the good, the wonder, and the benign nature, of its products’ feature sets.