March 08, 2013

We’re Adapting our Hotmail Support

The user experience for our CSV imports needs to be improved, we’re working on it.

We had to switch to the CSV import for Windows Live, Hotmail and and we are hearing criticism from you, our customers. You’ve been saying that the user experience sucks. I agree, it does suck. We have a bunch of work to do to improve this user experience and we’re working on getting there.

We chose the CSV import as a backup method when Windows Live announced they would “deprecate the existing Windows Live Contacts API and remove email addresses”, signaling the end of support for API access to email addresses. The new API returns email hashes, obfuscated strings that uniquely identify an email address but are useless for sending emails.

Microsoft PMs announced the change to their policies before finally deprecating the old APIs in June 2012. In preparation, we stayed up late and thought hard about ways to keep everyone happy. How would we support Windows Live as a contact source and adhere to Microsoft’s acceptable use? We disqualified screen-scraping; Microsoft made their policy decision and we won’t ruin our relationship when they have made it clear that they don’t approve.

Since July 2012, we’ve been lucky that the contacts API was not discontinued right away. But we new that the clock was ticking, so we’ve been monitoring these imports closely.

At the end of Jan 2013, the contacts API broke for 2 days and we switched over to the CSV backup. Many of you noticed and gave us feedback right away on some issues with it. About a week ago the authentication portion of our access started to fail intermittently, so we switched over again.

We will continue to monitor the delegated authentication and switch back to it if it stabilizes. In the meantime, we’re going to make some more improvements to our CSV import. We’re going to make the process more obvious, and do our best to help users find the CSV file to upload. We want to hear from you if you have some ideas for how to make it better.

Microsoft has set some barriers for us to continue to support contact importing for (fka Hotmail) users. We are up to the challenge.

Graeme Rouse, CTO at CloudSponge

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