Update: Microsoft got in touch to provide the following statement:
"We’ve always had a notice for both paid and free customers that are nearing or hitting their data limit. The design of the notice has recently changed, but there have been no changes to our data limits or policies."
So, it looks like change of the design could be what alerted people to the fact they have gone over their allowance. It suggests the previous notice was too easily missed by users.
Microsoft also suggested that customers should delete content or purchase a subscription, which some users may not be too fond of. Microsoft has a webpage with information about storage limits and how to reduce your inbox size.
Original story below...
According to new reports, Microsoft has shocked and enraged long-term users of its Hotmail and Outlook email services by sending out messages warning users that they are nearing their storage limit.
Back in 2013, Microsoft retired its Hotmail service and migrated everyone to Outlook.com, while allowing them to keep their Hotmail addresses.
Microsoft also added a 15GB storage limit, and it seems that suddenly a lot of Hotmail users have logged in to find they are over the limit, and will no longer be able to send or receive emails until they either delete older emails to free up space or sign up to Microsoft 365, which offers more storage capacity (as well as access to Office software like Word) for $69.99 / £59.99 / AU$99 a year.
That’s quite a leap from the free tier, and if you don’t want Microsoft’s Office applications, then it could feel like you’re being forced to pay for a service you’re not really going to use.
While Microsoft is entirely in the right by reminding people of the terms they agreed to, many users are taking issue with the fact that they hadn’t been warned about the limit in the eight years it’s been in place, and many people are now being told they are over the limit after years of being over.
As the Daily Express reports, people well over the 15GB limit have suddenly been locked out of sending and receiving emails until they delete older ones.
Now, you can argue that it’s the users' faults, as they are over the agreed limit. However, some people may have not been aware of the new limit, or forgotten about it, after their Hotmail accounts were migrated in 2013.
It also seems Microsoft for some reason did not send reminders or warnings about users approaching or going over the limit until recently. We’ve contacted Microsoft for comment.
No matter who is at fault, it’s resulted in a lot of annoyed Hotmail and Outlook users, who are now facing the prospect of paying to keep their old emails.
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Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.