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MSN Forces Outlook

Wednesday, October 17, 2001

In a long string of industry consolidations, MSN recently purchased Qwest's dial-up and DSL customer base. This alone is not surprising. However, according to this FAQ posted on Qwest's site, MSN requires that all subscribers use only their mail servers. Furthermore, MSN customers can only use Microsoft Outlook to connect to those servers. As Outlook has in some way been the victim of every major e-mail virus to surface in the past year or more, this practice seems not only restrictive but dangerous.

Of course, this is not unheard of: AOL has always gone to great lengths to prevent users from accessing their mail servers, instant messaging network, and other proprietary services from non-AOL products. However, this is fundamentally in opposition to the basic principles of the Internet: seamless communication between computers running diverse software from sometimes competing companies using open standards.

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