Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Getting “Disappeared” in Redmond

Quick—what company just reported a decline in internet revenues last quarter?

If you guessed “Microsoft,” you would be a winner.

That's right: of all the businesses at Microsoft, from video game boxes to operating systems, the one business that actually saw its revenues decline was that which serves the future of Western, and Eastern, Civilization.

How did they do that?, you might ask.

How, indeed, did the world's largest, most successful, most cash-rich software company manage to get lower revenues this year than last year out of a business whose inherent growth rate is higher than the year-to-year increase in the New York Yankees' payroll?

The answer lies in Hotmail and the fast-aging internet access business whose bleeding Microsoft has been no more able to staunch than AOL.

Long-time readers know I’ve groused about Microsoft’s Hotmail product for some time—at least until Google Mail came along. After hesitating like Alex Rodriguez staring at called third strike with two outs and the bases loaded, I finally switched.

The good news is that by switching to Google Mail I now avoid the near-daily aggravation that came with being a Hotmail user. The bad news is I eliminated good material for some posts here.

And that’s why I’m happy to report the receipt of an email, forwarded by a friend at a New England-based company still clinging to Hotmail.

The email in question alerts the company's employees that some tweaks to the Hotmail system by the folks in Redmond is causing emails sent from one Hotmail user to another Hotmail user to suffer the same fate as dissidents under Salvador Allende.

Which is to say, they are disappeared.

That is, as anybody who runs a business might gather, a problem. Readers of this blog will not be surprised to hear that, thus far, it appears the Hotmail folks haven’t come up with a solution, let alone respond to the poor company’s calls for help.

In the meantime, the 'workaround,' as IT guys like to say, is that anybody in the company who needs to send an email to a Hotmail account is advised to use a non-Hotmail account to send it.

Otherwise, the email will get disappeared.

Just like the users of Hotmail have been disappearing lately.

Jeff Matthews
I Am Not Making This Up

© 2006 Jeff Matthews

The content contained in this blog represents the opinions of Mr. Matthews. Mr. Matthews also acts as an advisor and clients advised by Mr. Matthews may hold either long or short positions in securities of various companies discussed in the blog based upon Mr. Matthews' recommendations. This commentary in no way constitutes a solicitation of business or investment advice. It is intended solely for the entertainment of the reader, and the author.


WershovenistPig said...

Augusto Pinochet was more into disappearing dissidents than Allende.

Gene said...

I think you meant Augusto Pinochet, not his predecessor Allende.

Fun post, and great blog. Keep it up!

Boris said...

Jeff,I very much like to read your blog. However,your analogy may be off in regards to Salvador Allende. Likely you meant to refer to Augusto Pinochet, who succeeded Allende via a violent military coup.

Ritholtz said...

They are right to focus their efforts elsewhere -- this internet thingie is just a fad anyway . . .

rkb said...

I'm still clinging to my hotmail account since I've had it forever(I do have a gmail account as well). Just be thankful that you left hotmail before trying the new Windows Live Mail beta version which they began inflicting upon volunteers earlier this year. In an apparent effort to compete with gmail, the boys in Redmond have actually turned out a product that is worse (in my opinion) than the not changed since 1990-something original hotmail. It was so bad that I went back to the old-school hotmail. Gmail is not complicated and that is what makes it appealing. Microsoft doesn't get that approach, they just keep piling on the 'features' until the screen looks like my refigerator door with too many papers and magnets hanging off it.

Gone to the blogs said...

You might want to check out the breakdown of the MSN/Online segment to see why revenues are down. Dial-up revenues continue to drop like a stone, which is neither surprising nor obfuscated in any way by the Company. Aside from that, revenue per search declined substantially vs. last year in the search/advertising piece of the business as MSFT has converted off of Overture and onto AdCenter. Naturally, AdCenter driven revenues per search start at low levels (brand new platform) and grow over time.

I'm not seeing why any of this is especially surprising or disappointing to anyone who's been following the story for a while.

Dave Livingston said...

Jeff - as a sorta-member of the technoweenie community I"ve had a g-mail acct for a couple of years now but use it little if at all. Also have a hotmail account which is for subs and public lists but do all my 'work' thru another.

What prompts my question is what appeals to you about g-mail ? Now btw do you use these accounts on-line or just as conduits ? I dload everything to my MS OutExpress which has proven very handy for keeping long-running archives and managing them.

Dave Livingston

smith said...

The A-Rod bashing is getting old...

Jeff Matthews said...

Pinochet it was.

My humblest appologies to Salvador! We try not to make it up here, and that slipped through.

Thanks for the immediate smack-down.

As for Dave Livingston's question about why I prefer G-Mail vs Hotmail, the ability to archive everything rather than have to save emails to categories is a huge time-saver. Then, to find stuff, instead of trying to remember what catagories I saved things under, just searching for keywords brings up the emails. Makes things much easier.

Plus, in this business, everything must be archived...so having all that stuff on a Google server farm is an easy solution, and provides better back-up, than doing it ourselves.

However, I find email preferences vary widely, and I know people who despise G-Mail as much as I like it.

It's a matter of taste, I guess.