Only months after privacy experts slammed Yahoo for allowing new users to take the email accounts and registration names of users who’d abandoned the service, Microsoft has confirmed that its Outlook.com webmail service also recycles email accounts. However, unlike Yahoo, Microsoft doesn’t share that information with users publicly.
Microsoft confirmed its policy of making expired email addresses available, to Dutch technology website Webwereld. The company also confirmed that it doesn’t wait that long before releasing abandoned email addresses to new users saying, “These email accounts are automatically put in the row to be deleted from our services. Then, after a total of 360 days, the email account name is available again.”
Microsoft’s acknowledgement of email recycling comes on the heels of Yahoo formally announcing a new recycling policy earlier this year. In August the company formally began reissuing the email address attached to accounts that were no longer in use. At the time, many privacy experts railed against the move, believing that it could jeopardize the security of some users who still rely on their Yahoo addresses to reset accounts on other services. Theoretically, account reset emails like those sent by Amazon and other large websites, would go to the default email address on file, allowing the new owner of the Yahoo email address – and Microsoft Account, to compromise the former email address owner’s security.
What is interesting here, is that Microsoft doesn’t actually share its timetable for recycling Outlook.com address on its Services Agreement. Instead, it advises users that they must sign into their accounts at least once every 270 days to avoid account termination.
It’s believed that Microsoft and other email service providers reissue email addresses as a way to attract more users. Although many users tend to choose their email service because of user-interface elements or integration with the devices they own, a large subset of users go with whatever service has the email address they want.
For its part, Google confirmed to Webwereld that it does not recycle abandoned Gmail accounts.