Now it may come as a shock to you, but I never made a Hotmail account, despite the fact that I had an account with most major email providers (free of course). Now many of my friends use a lot MSN Messenger and were pleading / begging / threatening / requesting me to get an ID too.
So one day I shed all inhibitions of signing up for a Microsoft account and went to the Hotmail site. For one, they don’t seem to have woken up to the post-Gmail multi-jumbo-supersize mailbox phenomenon and restrict the 250 MB mailbox only to USA, that too lagging far behind industry standards. I’ve heard that they’ve increased it to 2 GB in Windows Live Mail Beta, but by the time it goes mainstream, it’ll already be too late.
Okay, let’s forget that stinginess to part with server space for the moment. What I want to talk about is the INCREDIBLY STUPID way the MSN web designers have made the signup. They seem to have spent a lot of time, making a nice (and more sophisticated than Gmail’s) password strength checker. They even took care that disabled people are able to enter the verification text by giving an audio link; and I think it’s a very nice touch that is rarely seen these days. Kudos to them for that. But what irritated me is the ‘State’ and ‘Postal Code’ section. They KNOW that international subscribers too sign up for their service, that’s why they have the ‘Country’ section; but what they seem to have conveniently forgotten is a ‘Not USA’ option in their states field. Plus, they have taken extra steps to ensure that the postal code is valid US ZIP code, they actually verify that.
It seems that this is a very BIG, as in huge, error after going through all the pains of setting up a perfectly nice page. I think that’s what Microsoft’s problem is, they pay tooooooooo much attention to details, as if they’re reading the newspaper with an electron microscope, and in the process, lose out on the bigger picture.