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October 7, 2013

Microsoft Recycling Inactive Hotmail, Outlook, Windows Live Accounts

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Yahoo is not the first e-mail service to recycle inactive accounts.

Microsoft has been doing so for years with inactive Hotmail accounts, but is now also recycling inactive Outlook and Windows Live accounts, according to a report from PCWorld.

“The e-mail account is automatically queued for deletion from our servers. Then, after a total of 360 days, the e-mail account name is made available again,” Microsoft told PCWorld.

Microsoft’s software agreement, however, does not reveal that account names may be recycled. The policy says the following:

The Microsoft branded services require that you sign in to your Microsoft account periodically, at a minimum of every 270 days, to keep the Microsoft branded services portion of the services active, unless provided otherwise in an offer for a paid portion of the services. If you fail to sign in during this period, we may cancel your access to the Microsoft branded services. If the Microsoft branded services are cancelled due to your failure to sign in, your data may be permanently deleted from our servers.

Recycling of e-mail accounts is not always a smooth process, however.

Yahoo came under fire recently when a small portion of the firm’s users that received recycled account IDs had e-mails containing the personal information of former account owners delivered to their inboxes.

A handful of users told the e-mails contained private information such as financial data, passwords and pin numbers — an indication the old owners are still giving out that address, unaware they no longer have access to the account.

It appears Microsoft may be having similar issues.

Webwereld, a Dutch IDG publication, reported a hotmail user who received a recycled ID has received a number of private e-mails addressed to the former account holder. Webwereld said the former account holder is thinking about filing a complaint with the Dutch data protection agency against Microsoft.


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