MSN yesterday jumped on the bandwagon of introducing premium, paid-for services for customers, offering Hotmail account holders the opportunity to purchase more storage space.
The main problem with Hotmail accounts has always been their size. Allowing users just 2MB of space each, relatively few emails can be stored.
MSN said it felt "2MB of space was adequate for most email accounts", although it also added that many of its customers had requested more storage, which is somewhat contradictory.
It also blamed the sheer number of users — 210 million worldwide — for the need to limit storage space — that's a total of 420TB (terabytes) of data, or 420,000GB.
With the new premium service, at a cost of £19.99 a year, account holders can purchase an extra 8MB of space, bringing their total email storage space up to 10MB.
But other service providers, such as Freeserve and Yahoo, already offer 5MB and 6MB of gratis space respectively, while Lycos offers a massive 15MB free of charge.
"It's a question of who you are trying to target," said Alex Kovach, product director at Lycos. "The problem with MSN is that it is trying to be all things to all people — it is the largest out there but as a result it has to limit itself in other areas."
Lycos hopes its larger-capacity accounts will draw customers from the small business sector, rather than the more home-user oriented base MSN has attracted.
MSN has assured customers that this latest move is not an indication of things to come, so we'll just have to hope it stays true to its word.
"We do not plan to introduce anymore subscription services in the near future and we want to stress that free services today will still be free services tomorrow," said Geoff Sutton, director of MSN.co.uk.