Hotmail: Stuck in the ’90s?

A married couple, friends of mine, are having relationship troubles. You know the old story: she’s on Hotmail, he’s on Gmail, and they can’t see or share their respective calendars. A problem as old as time. 😉

I figured the solution was simple: move her away from Hotmail, to Gmail, and they’d live happily ever after sharing their Gmail calendars. Why Gmail? I think Google’s Web-based email and calendar system is superior to Hotmail, though I confess I’m not as familiar with Microsoft’s offerings as I used to be (I don’t do Web-based email). I created a Gmail account for her, logged into her Hotmail account, and tried to set up a simple forward that would shunt all her Hotmail email into her new Gmail account until everyone started to use her new Gmail address. I didn’t count on huge road-block that seems right out of 1998:

WHAT? Hotmail’s email forwarding will only forward to other Microsoft email accounts? What’s the point then? That’s something I’d expect from the 1998 “We want to rule the world” Microsoft, not the newer “We want to work with the world, as long as we can make money doing it” Microsoft. Having a limitation like this is just a slap in the face to a Hotmail customer – sure, she’s trying to leave Hotmail, but there’s no reason to make the exit an ugly one. If Microsoft offered a real forwarding option, it would leave the door open to coming back. I haven’t thought very highly of Hotmail over the years (mostly because people using the service never seem to get my email), but this really drops the service down a few notches in my eyes.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I find it incredibly hard to believe that what I want to do is really this hard. I’ve done a bit of research and found a few desktop-PC programs that act as email re-directors, but that’s not a good solution. Possibly something Web-based? I thought Hotmail would have an option to function as a POP3 account, so I could use Gmail to pull her email in, but they don’t offer that either. It’s no wonder Gmail is so popular, Hotmail is really unimpressive.