Say goodbye to Hotmail (as you know it) and hello to Outlook.com, Microsoft's new personal email service that launched in preview form on Tuesday. To listen to Microsoft describe it, Outlook.com represents "the first major improvement to cloud mail in eight years," and is yet another reimagined cloud service as Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 roll into view. It's "modern email designed for the next billion mailboxes." Marketing hype aside, just what exactly is Outlook.com all about?
The Internet’s 43 years old this year—that’s the same age as The RZA and Patton Oswalt—putting 1969 in the running for Best Year Ever. But for all we know about the Wu-Tang Clan and KFC Famous Bowls, the mass majority of users surfing the interwebz know next to nothing about its history. To get you up to speed we’ve put together a pictorial timeline of 20 of the most significant events in the history of the Internet, from its inception right up to the meme, kitteh and rickrolling phenomenon it is today.
Faculty and students attending Oxford University in the U.K. are currently without access to several Microsoft services, including Hotmail, MSN, Live, and others. Oxford ICT officer Peter Bushnell reached out to DailyTech about the apparent blacklist that "has been going on for a week now" after unsuccessfully trying to get a straight answer from Microsoft.
No matter where you choose to do your cloud computing these days, September is off to a rough start. First Google Doc’s is knocked offline for over an hour on Wednesday, and Microsoft followed suit on Friday, falling off the grid for close to three hours. Microsoft’s service disruption impacted several free services such as Hotmail and Skydrive, but also premium offerings including Office 365.
Microsoft recently updated its Office Web Apps online productivity suite to add a few useful features. The service update, which was announced by the Office Web Apps team on its official blog on Wednesday, only concerns the Excel and PowerPoint Web Apps. Hit the jump to find out what these enhancements are.
According to Microsoft, the average person maintains three different email addresses. If you're a power user, you might be juggling many more than that. Managing all those usernames and passwords (assuming you use a different one for each account) is, in a word, "inefficient," Microsoft says. The solution? Hotmail aliases.
Hotmail may been losing some of its “geek cred” to more feature rich services such as Gmail, but as one of the most popular email providers in the world, they had a bit of explaining to do after accidentally wiping out the inboxes of over 17,000 users last week. According to Microsoft’s Mike Schackwitz, an error in a script that is used for testing the stability of the service accidentally deleted valid user account folders, rather than just those belonging to internal test bots.
"In Hotmail, one way we monitor the health of the e-mail service is through automated tests. We set up a number of accounts with different configurations, and then use automated tests to log into these accounts, simulate normal user activity and behavior, and report when errors are found," Schackwitz wrote in a blog post. "We use scripts to create and delete these test accounts in bulk. The way we delete a test account is to remove its record from a group of directory servers that route users and incoming mail to the correct mailbox."
Microsoft didn’t really apologize for the error in its blog post, but at least they claim to have learned a valuable lesson. "This issue was one that had not arisen before, and at first, we did not assign it to the correct team for action," Schackwitz wrote. "Additionally, because there were a relatively small number of reports, the volume wasn't high enough to set off alarms. This meant we had a ticket in the system that was getting no action."
Microsoft has restored all missing emails but has this further eroded your trust in Hotmail?
Microsoft is making a concerted effort to beef up the security of Hotmail email accounts, the Redmond outfit announced in a blog post this week.
"Last week we purged hijackers from legitimate Hotmail accounts that had been identified as compromised, and earlier this month we used legal action to take down a range of domains used by hijackers known as the Waledac botnet," Microsoft said. "Today, we are releasing new features to safeguard everyone's account from hijackers."
Those safeguards include two new "proofs" for account recovery. One involves linking your Hotmail account to one or more of your PCs, so if you need to reset your account, you just need to be using your PC. The second proof option is your cell phone number, where you can receive a secret code via SMS to reset your password.
Email spam is on the rise, no surprise there, but new information is suggesting that these emails could be coming from good old mom and dad as well. According to researchers over at Websense, personalized spam emails are being sent from tens of thousands of compromised accounts spanning all of the usual suspects including Yahoo, Gmail, and Hotmail.
Security researchers have suggested that given the sheer volume of spam emails being observed, the recent leak of some 10,000+ Hotmail accounts obtained through a phishing scam isn’t the only source of compromised email addresses, and it is very likely malware key loggers have helped to contribute to the rise in fraud. "The quantity of people hit makes me think that it was key logging — the success rate for phishing is only about one in 1,000," said Shulman, chief technology officer for security firm Imperva. "Secondly, when I went through the list of email account credentials, there were entries with the same username, but a slightly different password, which suggests that they're typos.
According to Patrick Runald from Websense “"Generally phishing is declining and being replaced by key logging, and considering the number of compromised accounts, it could be a combination of both." Apparently it also helps if your password isn’t 1-2-3-4-5. Time to go change the combination on my luggage!
Over 10,000 Hotmail email accounts were leaked to the web earlier this week as the result of a massive phishing scam, which may not have taken a whole lot of effort. After all, if you're going to choose "123456" as your password, compromising your account is like shooting fish in a barrel.
In this case, there were 64 said fish in a barrel full of over 10,000 compromised Hotmail accounts, making it the most commonly used password of the bunch, according to a researcher who combed through all the posted accounts.
About 42 percent of the passwords consisted of lowercase letters from "a" to "z," and just 6 percent secured their email accounts by mixing alpha-numeric characters. And almost 2,000 passwords were only six characters long (the longest was 30 characters).
An interesting side note - a bunch of the top 20 passwords were Spanish names, which might suggest that the victims were of Spanish origin or lived in Spanish-speaking communities, Wired.com reports.