Hotmail access via Pop Links update

Rob Mueller – 16 June 2008

On March 22, I posted about how Microsoft are planning on closing WebDAV access to Hotmail accounts.

It appears there has been a large outcry about the disabling of WebDAV access, and Microsoft have decided to NOT disable access at the end of June. However I wouldn't expect this to last forever, as the linked update notes:

From the feedback we received, it became clear that you needed additional time to evaluate alternative solutions and with this in mind, we are postponing the transition deadline previously announced.  This means that you will continue to be able to access your Windows Live Hotmail accounts from Outlook Express beyond the June 30 transition deadline.

[My emphasis added]. So clearly they still plan to disable WebDAV access, and move to their proprietary DeltaSync protocol. We recommend that you should still be planning on how to move away from Hotmail. Once they turn off WebDAV access, you'll be locked into using Microsoft's proprietary protocol that only their software can read. You won't be able to freely access your own data using open standard protocols and systems.

Here's a brief checklist of things you should do to move off Hotmail

  1. Setup your new email address. You can use one of our domains, but for real flexibility, we recommend you buy yourself your own domain name. There's lots of domain registrars out there, and it's only about $10/year for your own domain. Then setup an Enhanced account, or Family/Business package so you can host email for your own domain at FastMail. That way your email address is never tied explicitly to any one provider
  2. Email all your known contacts and tell them to use your new address. Feel free to tell them that you don't like the idea of Microsoft forcing you into using their proprietary software and not giving you an open standard way to access your email
  3. Create a "Hotmail" folder at FastMail, and setup a Pop Link on the Options -> Pop Links screen to regularly pull email from Hotmail to FastMail into the Hotmail folder
  4. As email comes into your Hotmail folder, you'll be able to find out all the existing people or mailing lists or newsletters signed up to your old Hotmail address, and over time update those subscriptions to your new address
  5. Setup your favourite email software to access your FastMail account via IMAP so you can keep using the web interface and your email software and everything will stay in sync
  6. Download IMAPSize and make a local copy of all your email. You end up with the best of both worlds. Your email in "the cloud" with access available everywhere (home, work, mobile, friend, internet cafe, etc), AND a local copy saved on your computer so you're never are stuck with your data at one provider