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Hotmail to introduce charges

June 8, 2002

Hotmail has joined the growing ranks of web companies that are starting to charge for formerly free services.

From mid-July users wanting to check their other e-mail accounts via the Microsoft backed service will have to pay a fee to do so.

The move could irritate many of the reported 110 million Hotmail users who before now have managed all their e-mail accounts via the site.

Earlier this year, Hotmail rivals Yahoo and Lycos introduced charges for similar services.

Longer life

From 16 July, Hotmail will end the free service that makes it possible to check e-mail accounts held with net service providers via its website.

Anyone wanting to check other accounts, so-called POP mail, will have to sign up for the MSN Extra Storage service which, in the UK, costs Ј19.95 per year.

As well as getting access to the POP mail service, those signing up for Extra Storage get 10 megabytes of space that lets them get and send larger attachments and ensures that their account stays live even if they stop using it for 30 days.

Hotmail informed users of the change in an e-mail sent earlier this week.

Many people have signed up for a Hotmail account because it allows them to check and manage their various electronic mail accounts from almost anywhere they can find a net browser.

Lycos and Yahoo, which also let people check POP mail accounts, started charging users for this service earlier this year.

Anyone wanting to still use a free POP mail service can find a comprehensive list at

Many net experts see the charging of fees for once-free services as an inevitable part of the web's development.

Many companies with websites are looking for new ways to offset the cost of running their net business now that revenue from advertising is harder to come by and investor funds are scarce.

'Creeping commercialisation'

But a report by Jupiter MMXI released earlier this year questioned whether users would be prepared to pay charges.

The report said that only entertainment companies offering music, movies or images via broadband links were likely to make significant amounts of money from net charges.

Almost half of the European users questioned in the report said they would never consider paying for net services.

A website called The End of Free is documenting the creeping commercialisation of websites and web-based services.

Source: Copyright © 2002 BBC News


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