The first reports of Hotmail's magical, almost mythical 250Mb mailboxes began to surface just over a week ago. The second batch of official emails were sent today but unfortunately, they still promised jam tomorrow rather than allowing users to wake up to mailboxes 100 times the current size. Autumn is the intended release date, neatly covering themselves until just after Halloween for getting Hotmail users expanded worldwide.
Not to be outdone, Yahoo has rebranded as Yahoo! Mail Plus, made the site ad-free for users who have paid for more space and allowed mail to be stored on the hard disk if vitally important. When the 2005 renewal arrives, it will cost £11.99 per year, the same price for which new users needing more than 100Mb can sign up now. Single Attachments are 10Mb at a time rather than 5 x 4Mb on Yahoo to total 20Mb but users of broadband connections under 1Mbit will see performance suffer if they aim for the upper end of these limits.
Now, the battle is for hearts, minds and paid-for enhancements. Veteran surfers will have one of each so unless a lot of digital photos are getting passed around, it will be hard to convince people to spend money when they'll have 350Mb of online storage for nothing if they have one account each.
Spam Filters under Yahoo! Mail Plus have been increased from 15 to 50. As far as pocket-lint is concerned, is one of the best new features of Yahoo Mail Plus. So, for a modest fee, this disadvantage has been removed from the service. Time will tell whether that keeps Spam out of users' mailboxes in a more ruthless manner than Hotmail, but it's clearly a massive improvement.