Hotmail VS Gmail
I've been using hotmail for years. At one point, I signed up for a Gmail account with intentions of using Gmail for personal emails and keeping hotmail simply for account signups and such. I started to do this for a very short time, but eventually saw that working with two separate accounts was actually more inconvenient than mixing personal and account emails. Plus, I get very little (and by "very little" I mean "pretty much zero") personal email anyway, so the result was that I just ended up sticking with hotmail.
I've used my gmail account for a few things here and there, such as to act as a bounce account if I needed to forward emails that were blocked for some reason… y'know, things like that. Well, recently, as in, the past couple days, I have been leaning towards ditching hotmail altogether and switching to Gmail completely. I'll explain why.
Over the past several months I have experienced a slow but gradual decrease in my contentment with Microsoft products. I've ignored a lot of it because it didn't really affect me, until I started experiencing problems with Internet Explorer. At first they were tiny annoyances, but then the problems got worse and more frequent, as well as more bizarre. I eventually decided to switch to Firefox. This was a complete turn-around for me because in the past I hated Firefox, but I won't go off on that tangent.
So I switched to Firefox and I've been very pleased with it for the most part. Now let's talk about my email. I have the Windows Live Messenger, and I love that it shows me when I have new email. I don't have to keep logging in to check. There's a nice little envelope icon on the messenger window. In addition to that, I just click on the icon and it opens up my inbox. I don't even have to log in at all. Very convenient!
But UH OH, it ONLY OPENS IT IN INTERNET EXPLORER! Ok, so I'll use IE just for my email. Not a huge deal. At least, that was my initial attitude towards it. But what happens when I get an email in which I have links to click to open other windows? It of course opens more Internet Explorer windows, and, of course, I'm distracted by the email itself so I'm not really thinking about it until I've navigated 5 pages away and I'm no longer checking email. I'm now doing something completely different, then something glitchy or buggy happens. Maybe the window freezes or I'm missing a certain plugin. My first thought is, "oh great, now Firefox is having problems". Then I realize, I'M STILL IN INTERNET EXPLORER! It's like a psychotic ex-girlfriend that just can't let go.
So I'm still thinking "ok, I'll just have to remember to switch to firefox after I'm done with my email". Not a huge deal. If only that were all. Now I start experiencing problems with Windows Live Messenger itself. Sometimes when I load it up, my computer freezes. Other times, it just crashes my PC altogether, flashing a BSOD then rebooting. If I'm lucky, it just starts without problems. Honestly, though, do I even NEED the messenger? Well, the only thing I really use it for is to check my email. In regards to opening links in Internet Explorer, I did a little research and found that I can actually set up Windows Live Messenger to open up Firefox when I click that little envelope icon. All I have to do is install the Messenger Plus addon, and then download a few extra plugins for THAT addon. After that I can go in and configure it to open links in my default browser (which is FireFox). "All I have to do", eh? I don't even talk to anybody on it, except on very rare occasions and only because I already have it open. So, I don't need it for the messenger. I only want to have something to tell me when I have new mail. I hate the messenger as it is, so why on earth would I want to add extra extensions and plugins and install more CRAP… ONLY TO CHECK MY MAIL!!!
So the obvious solution would be to find a 3rd party program that I can install and configure to check my hotmail for me. Sounds easy enough. There are a myriad of utilities out there that do such things as check email accounts using POP3 protocols and sit in the Windows system tray and notify the user of new mail. Oh, but wait a second, HOTMAIL DOESN'T SUPPORT POP3!! Hotmail uses an HTTP server, which is different and much less common, so all of those handy dandy POP3 clients available for free download DON'T HELP AT ALL!
Oh, but what's this? As of September 2007, Hotmail now provides POP access to email! Hurray, right? No. Not hurray. Upon further reading one will find that this convenience is offered to PAID ACCOUNTS ONLY! It's like if Pizza Hut offered regular prices if you came to the restaurant to eat, but if you want the pizza delivered to your house, well, just become a Pizza Hut Subscriber for only $20 a month! Bull-crap!!!
Oh, and yes it is something like $20 a month for a paid hotmail account. So not only is it inconvenient, it's highway robbery!
Let me take a few steps back. There was some utility I tried called MultiMail Notifier. It's designed to connect to a variety of email accounts, such as yahoo, gmail, and yes, even hotmail. So I downloaded this thing to give it a try, and it was easy to install and set up. I was very excited. I would finally have what I was looking for. I configured it to check both my hotmail and gmail accounts. I started it up, and it was checking. Ah yes, I got X amount of emails in my gmail account, but what's this? The hotmail account returned "Connection error: Service Unavailable". Big surprise there. Hotmail probably blocks it deliberately.
I tried a few more things and did a few more searches but nothing worked.
After all of this fussing and fighting with hotmail and windows live messenger, I think I might just do a complete switch to gmail. The only real problem with this is that I'll have to look up all of my different accounts and log in all of them and change my default email address to my gmail address. It may sound like a minor setback but trust me it is a HUGE inconvenience. I really don't want to have to do that.
Perhaps I can go back to my previous idea of using gmail for personal mail. Except that would just take me back to square one because, like I said, I don't really get any personal mail. Everything I do in email has something to do with checking or managing external accounts (like letting me know when I've received a comment on my blog).
I'm not sure what to do just yet. I'm going to let the dust settle in my brain a little bit before making any rash decisions. I might start writing down every account I can think of that uses my hotmail address and decide if it's really worth going through all of them to make the switch. I suppose I wouldn't have to change ALL of them. There are several that I don't use any more, and switching email servers would actually help me rid myself of that "connection" to those unused accounts, if you know what I mean. I've also been getting more junk mail in my hotmail account lately. More than I used to. Not a lot, but enough to bring to my attention Gmail's spam filter, which is far superior to hotmail's lousy junkmail filter.
Gmail is, of course, also integrated into the Google search page, which I use for just about everything. In fact, my Gmail account is also the account I use to log into my blogger account, so I'm already using it more anyway.
I know I'm making it sound like a done deal, as if the decision has already been made. Sounds like I've decided to go with Gmail. However, this is pretty big switch. After all, I've been using my hotmail account for many years. Also, what do I do with all of the existing mail in my hotmail account? I need to save a lot of it. I'll have to see if there is perhaps an easy way to send it all to my gmail account easily. Kinda like forwarding.
Speaking of forwarding, that's another feature I want to talk about in regards to Hotmail. If you have hotmail and you go into your options, there is an option for forwarding email. I saw this and thought "hmmm, well at least if I switch to gmail I can set the forward on here so it will make the transition easier". WRONG AGAIN!!! The tyrant bastards at MSN say "sure, you can forward your emails, but you can only forward them to other Windows live and MSN accounts!". What's the friggin' point?! I hate you.
Gmail conveniently provides all manner of configurations for filters and forwarding that allows you to forward specific mail to any email address. This is why, as I mentioned before, I was using it as a 'bounce' account. It's very convenient and flexible. I think Google actually wants to make things easier for their users, while I'm under the impression MSN/Hotmail just wants to eat their souls. That might be a stretch, but I'm sure that's what it is.
Perhaps you can help me make a decision. I'm at the crossroads in this right now.