Hotmail accounts now expire in 30 days

Users of Microsoft Corp.'s Hotmail e-mail service who don't sign in at least once every 30 days will find their account deactivated, the company confirmed Friday.

Previously a Hotmail account was set to expire after 45 days. The change came into effect in the U.S. on Nov. 1 and will be implemented worldwide starting next month, said Abdeluheb Choho, a spokesman for Microsoft's MSN in the Netherlands.

On deactivation, all personal items including e-mail messages and address books are deleted and incoming messages are no longer accepted. After deactivation a user has 90 days to reactivate the account before the e-mail address is removed from the system, Choho said.

"We want to focus on those customers that actively use the service," said Choho.

Users don't have to send or receive e-mail messages to keep their account, said Choho.

"All it takes to reset the counter is signing on. We will never ask a user to send or forward e-mail; that is a tactic only used in chain messages or hoaxes," he said.

All Hotmail users -- there are 118 million accounts worldwide -- will be informed of the changes in the monthly Hotmail member letter. U.S. users were told of the new policy on Oct. 31, and users in other parts of the world will be updated in their November newsletter, Choho said.

Customers who pay for extra storage capacity for their Hotmail account will be exempt from the new policy. However, this service is only available in the U.S., according to Choho.

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