The days of free e-mail are drawing to a close. Yahoo, Lycos, and Hotmail have all started to change their free e-mail accounts to make it more likely that users will pony up a monthly subscription fee. Today, Hotmail announced it will start charging to retrieve mail from other POP mailboxes – just as Yahoo and Lycos announced earlier this year. More importantly, Hotmail reduced the amount of storage space offered for free, and tweaked its junk mail filter a few months ago so that most junk messages are no longer caught and filtered into the trash can. Since Hotmail accounts are inundated with spam, the result is that your Inbox quickly fills up to the (reduced) space limit and Hotmail shuts off your account until you manually clean out your Inbox. The next time you log on to Hotmail, you are greeted with a message inviting you to buy more storage space so it doesn’t happen again. It’s sneaky and annoying.

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