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Tuesday, January 19 Front Page >> Random Rants >> MSN Doesn't Get It!

Jan 23, 2003, 7:40pm

MSN... Doesn't get it
Microsoft still doesn't get it. Stop trying to hold our hands! Let us decide where "we want to go today"!

So, the folks over at Microsoft are bemoaning the static and stale condition of signups for their MSN service (read about it here).

The numbers are flat, and many defections are taking place (read: people signing up with other services). Microsoft spin doctors "blamed the lack of growth on a wave of MSN defections in the fourth quarter of 2002. These subscribers had signed up for MSN through multiyear discount offers that had come to an end.".

Uh, maybe. But you know what? I tried MSN back last year, when I was in Anaheim. I signed up for the 30 day trial, and was not impressed. Here's why:

  • Microsoft shows its "hey, we're Microsoft, we know what you want to do, so let us do it through assumption" attitude at its fullest with MSN dialup. You can't use your own browser. You can't (easily) even set up a normal dial-up script. You're forced to use MSN Exploder and MSN's connectivity software (which is included, of course, in WinXP).

  • I couldn't get it working on a Mac, no matter what I tried

  • The setup program is so inflexible, I couldn't set myself up as a "travelling" location: in other words, register with my Richmond, BC address, but choose a temporary dialup in Anaheim for connectivity. I ended up giving my Anaheim hotel as my "address".

  • MSN Dialup automatically blocks you from using your own mail servers. I own several domain names (including and while I could check email on these servers, I could not send mail through them. I called to complain, and was told that was "policy". Boo Microsoft.

If Microsoft wants MSN Dialup to succeed, they need to reposition the service, or roll out something like ATT has for business users - dialup for business - no frills, no fancy Bob-like programs, just dial up access nationwide. You're free to use your own mail server, you're free to use your own mail program, you're free to use any browser (or operating system, for that matter) that you want. Dial up, and nuttin' but.

But they won't do it. It's Microsoft. They know where you want to go today, and will take you there without asking you first.

7 comments | reply

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