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?
ArsTechnicapasses along a rumor that the next release of Microsoft's Windows Live, Wave 4, may reach beta status this week. Details are scarce, but Softpediapoints out that Windows Live Hotmail Wave 4 Milestone 1, which offers a number of new features, has been live since mid-September.
When will Windows Live Wave 4 Beta shed the beta tag? ArsTechnica has run a Japanese blog entry about Wave 4 through a couple of online translators, with the rather fractured results pointing to a spring to summer 2010 target. Stay clicked to MaximumPC.com for more information.
It's an all-too-familiar marketing ploy: download a utility you really want, and get a toolbar for your browser free. This week, Microsoft joined the "download one, get one free" bandwagon, but with a twist: Redmond announced a deal with Sun Microsystems to offer the MSN Toolbar to US users of Internet Explorer whenever they download the Java Runtime Environment. MSN Toolbar offers one-click access to Live Search, direct access to Windows Live Hotmail and Windows Live Messenger, and stories from the MSN network. If you hate toolbars, or your browser's already running your favorite toolbar, you can opt out of the MSN toolbar.
This Microsoft plus Sun pairing represents a big "win" for Microsoft, as Google's toolbar was previously being offered as the freebie with Java. As El Reg points out, this sort of thing is nothing new for Sun and Java. Java's also been used to deliver offers of OpenOffice and the Yahoo! toobar (the latter to Mozilla Firefox browser users only).
So, how do you feel about these combo deals? Would you rather get a coupon for free french fries, or are you comfortable with getting "two for one" downloads"? Join us after the jump and sound off.