Microsoft's ever-resourceful marketing goblins seem to have come up with a killer combination of features designed to win hearts and minds for MSN Explorer, the jazzy Internet-email client intended for newbies from the Great Unwebbed. The second beta of the software has a built in 'spam a friend by mistake' function, and if you happen to have an MSN email account, it may confiscate your POP service and give you a Hotmail account instead.
These little gems have been dug up by Woody's Windows Watch, which amusingly describes the spam a friend feature as "like Melissa but in slow motion." This is basically a handy feature which appears to have been enhanced by the goblins into a horrible own-goal breach of Netiquette, and it works like this.
If you're running Outlook Express, the second time you load MSN EXplorer it asks you if you want to import your address book. If you say yes, it kicks in a dialogue box asking if you'd like to tell all your contacts about your new email address. It then previews a message from 'you' that says how great MSN Explorer is, and urges the recipient to click on the link and follow the download instructions. According to Woody's, there is no obvious way to edit this.
The second prong of the MSN Explorer attack applies only to MSN email users. It appears that Explorer is extremely keen to convert them to Hotmail users instead, which means you lose the POP facility and wind up with Web email instead. This is being viewed by some as a bad thing that loses you features, but as The Register recalls you need either Outlook or the MSN client in order to access MSN email in the first place, people wanting to lose the proprietary MS stuff but still get to their MSN mail (which as it happens, includes us) might see this as an advantageous side effect.
Woody's proposes to report further on this for a future issue, but we might just check it out ourselves in the meantime. ®
Woody's Windows Watch