Redmond Rolls Back Hotmail Facelift

Microsoft Thursday rolled back a recent change to Windows Live Hotmail, more than a month after users had complained bitterly about a new interface the company debuted in September.

"We heard many users say that they had trouble navigating through Hotmail, especially if they had a smaller monitor," Microsoft's Hotmail team wrote on its company blog . "We've decided to make a significant change in our product: Hotmail will scroll like classic Hotmail."

Hotmail users who logged on to the service also received a message alerting them to the change. "We've changed the way that scrolling works for users who have the reading pane turned off. It'll look more like Classic Hotmail if your reading pane is off," the message read.

Hundreds of users had complained about the new interface on earlier blog entries by the Hotmail developers, upset over the interface redesign and angry about glitches that prevented them from reading their mail. Some also dinged Hotmail's new look and navigation.

"Everything seems to take up more space on the page," wrote an anonymous user in an early November comment. "I feel like I'm looking at a book in large print for old folks! Please put it back the way it was!"

Microsoft, however, stood its ground and said it would not revert to the earlier look-and-feel , or offer, as it once did, a so-called "classic" interface as well as the newer design. "We can't provide two fast, secure reliable experiences, so we have decided to just keep the new version," Mike Schackwitz , lead program manager for Hotmail, said in a blog post Nov. 7.

On Thursday the company credited users for changing its mind. "None of this would have been possible without the great feedback from you, our users," said the Hotmail team.

Other changes will be coming, said Microsoft, including moving ads to the side of the window and increasing the number of messages shown at one time. The latter was a modification that numerous users griped about last month.

Users can revert to Hotmail's earlier scrolling behavior by clicking the "Inbox" folder, clicking "Options" in the upper right, then under "Reading pane settings," selecting "Off."

Since Microsoft told users of the scrolling change, more than 100 users have left comments about the move. But while some applauded the concession, many more continued to urge the company to completely turn back the clock. "I want Hotmail back like it was!" said a user identified as "Karen" in a comment early Friday. "I am not happy."

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