Due to my reluctance to use the nearby wifi, I’ve been using a friend’s MSN account as a backup. It required that I download and install the 10Mb MSN for Mac OS X package before the dialup would function, and after a couple days with it, I’m getting tired of the total control tunnel vision it requires.
They obviously went after the AOL market with this one. You log into the client and it has web, email, messenging, weather, and stocks, all in one window with giant happy colorful icons. It welcomes you during login, says goodbye when you close it, and it has all sorts of cheery sounds when you have email. You are directed to dozens of MSN properties from a front page that resembles the cover of a People Magazine; it’s a total AOL clone. But it’s also a walled garden.
First off, they make it difficult to use as merely a dialup provider. It doesn’t store its dialup info in the mac’s network profiles, and when I tried to enter all the information by hand, I cannot successfully connect. The only way in is using their tool to initiate dialup. When minimized, it makes noise every so often to remind you it is open, and you can’t close it without disconnecting. The worst thing MSN does is block outbound connections on port 25. Unless your SMTP server is customizable or has an alternate port (mine does), you can’t send out email. Now, they’ll probably claim this is to thwart spammers, but anyone that knows what they are doing could easily use ports 2525 or 2500 on many mail servers (or a local spam cannon app) to get right around that limitation, which otherwise exists to simply keep people within the MSN client for mail. From start to finish using MSN, the message is clear: they are going for total lock-in with their users.