One way to sell your webmail services to Internet denizens is by offering them lots of storage. That was one of the selling points of upstart Gmail in 2004 when it offered its subscribers a “whopping” 1GB of storage.
Over the years, webmail providers have engaged in storage wars, each taking turns trying to outdo the other’s storage offerings. With Outlook.com, though, Microsoft may have closed the book on that kind of competition. It’s offering “virtually unlimited” storage for inboxes in Outlook.com accounts.
These days, though, one company’s unlimited is a subscriber’s not-so-unlimited. For example, Microsoft in its explanation of email storage limits for Outlook.com says email storage will expand on an “as need” basis. “Your inbox capacity will automatically increase as you need more space,” it notes.
However, Microsoft cautions that an inbox can grow too fast. It that happens, you won’t be able to send or receive email. That may sound a little less than unlimited to some subscribers.
To avoid that kind of bottleneck, Microsoft offers two suggestions:
- Create an archive folder on your computer where you can store space-hogging attachments and delete them when their usefulness has expired.
- Empty junk and deleted items folders.
Outlook.com’s semi-unlimited storage option caught one new subscriber by surprise. Writing in the Web Applications forum, the subscriber explained how they had tied Outlook 2007 on their desktop with Outlook.com through a plug-in for the desktop program.
“It was going fine for a few hours (the only way I could tell that it was even syncing was by observing the network bandwidth activity),” they wrote. “Now, the syncing appears to have stopped….”
After checking the log file for Outlook Communicator plug-in, the subscriber traced the problem to “Error: 8007000e.” Because the error is linked to a storage problem, the subscriber reasoned that they must be trying to send too much mail to their Outlook.com account too fast.
Another forum subscriber agreed with that analysis. They explained that after a certain unspecified amount of time, Outlook.com recognizes the legitimacy of a subscriber—in other words, they’re not a spammer—and will increase their storage allocation.
It’s easy to understand why Microsoft is taking precautions to insure that their new Hotmail alternative isn’t overrun with spammers. And with the service racking up a million subscriber within six hours of its launch, spam infestation is a real possibility.
Another measure apparently aimed at spammers is limiting the number of Outlook.com accounts that can be set up by a single user on a single day. For instance, when Kenneth Paul, a consultant in central Massachusetts, tried to set up an account on Outlook.com, he discovered another Ken Paul had not only gotten to the service first, but multiple times.
“1st attempt to create outlook.com account returns ‘You’ve reached the daily limit for creating Microsoft accounts,'” he tweeted.
On some other security fronts, though, Microsoft has some catching up to do. For example, Outlook.com doesn’t quite have the hang yet of catching email addresses that have a potential for mischief. According to a report in The Register, early bird subscribers were claiming with impunity names like email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and yes, even email@example.com.