by Shane O'Neill

Microsoft’s Windows Live Hotmail Redesign Met with Wrath from Users

Nov 10, 20084 mins
Data Center

Redesigns and new user interfaces don’t have a history of being warmly embraced (“How dare they change the look and feel of my Facebook page?!?”) So far, Microsoft’s new Windows Live Hotmail interface, first unveiled in late Sept., has generated lots of fear, and more loathing.  

Users by the boatload are complaining that Microsoft’s decision to combine the “classic” and “full” versions of Hotmail has made it sluggish and confusing. 

Angry responses posted at Microsoft’s original announcement about the revamped hotmail are still rolling in today. To say users are tense about it would be an understatement. 

Some of the more heated comments at the Windows Live site:

“I really HATE the new hotmail and that is the first time I have ever used all caps. On some of my browsers, it won’t even let me delete emails. On other browsers, if I click on a link inside the email nothing happens. I can’t be the only one with hand pain and not being able to view a larger amount of emails at a time to delete, just makes for more clicking. I am sorry that my hotmail was my primary email address and I signed up for so many things with it. I have been using it since the 90’s. I will be opening a yahoo account in my name.”

“Please put me down under the “I hate it” column.  Too many crappy things to list here…. The font changing (I don’t need glasses so why did you increase the size?).  Seeing fewer folders on left, and fewer emails in the in box due to the larger font. I know you added some extra features like better spell check, etc… but why did you feel the need to change the look?  Is it because i’m seeing more ads?  I just don’t like it so I think i’ll switch the Gmail.”   

“Just got back from a week in Mexico and came into this new mess you created.  Get me back to what I had or I may change companies. Contacts now under first name.  Trying to find anything is difficult. I had to catch up on 145 emails and I don’t need the stress this created.” 

“How do I switch back to Classic? You have one week to fix this mess or I am closing my account and using my work email…” 

“Mike Schackwitz [Lead Program Manager, Windows Live Hotmail], be a man and take it on the chin, you’d have been better off spending your summer on the beach rather than screwing up hotmail. I’d like you to reply to me personally but unfortunately I can’t open my inbox, idiot.” 

Microsoft responded to the redesign outrage by thanking users for their “thoughtful comments and questions” and providing answers to the most pressing questions. Lead Windows Live Hotmail programmer Mike Schackwitz is apologetic and sincere in his efforts clear up confusion and improve the interface, but even after some explanation, the venom comes out again in the comment area. 

“Your new upgrade or should I say downgrade is awful. Pages are superimposed on each other, cannot read or send email, so…..I just set a new email account up with google.. bye..” 

“i really hate this new update i dont even want to open hotmail any more if i cant get it back the way it was i am going to change to yahoo or something else this is frustrating. pls do something about this.” 


Microsoft has Vista-esque user dissatisfaction on its hands with the new Windows Live Hotmail. But users do tend to adjust to new interfaces in time and calm down. When Facebook recently changed its look and feel, users were ready to storm the castle, forming popular groups such as “1,000,000 Against the New Facebook” and the more bluntly titled “I hate the new Facebook.” 

Most users soon became acclimated to the look and feel and you don’t hear much griping about the new Facebook anymore. I sense the same will happen with Windows Live Hotmail as Microsoft programmers continue to fix bugs and update code. 

But why did it come to this? With the Windows Live Hotmail redesign, did Microsoft bring an unprepared upgrade to the public too soon, as it has been accused of doing with Windows Vista? 

Let me know what you think.