Spam is a thorny issue, but Ed Bott has written today about a little known clause in the contracts for Microsoft Office 365 customers that could give them serious cause for concern. The clause deals with how many recipients can be sent emails each day from an Office 365 account.
Small business accounts are limited to 500 recipients per 24 hours and enterprise accounts are limited to 1500. Office 365 technical support was unable to tell me when the limitation is reset… They also said it is very difficult to upgrade from a small business to enterprise Office 365 account. I would need to create a whole new account and migrate the domain and users, so that is not an option.
I'm just finishing writing a book about Office 365 for small businesses so this caught my eye. It's very interesting when you consider that a business using Office 365 could be, practically, any size at all. If you have fifty people working at a company then each of them will only be able to send emails to 10 people every day.
50 employees isn't a lot and 10 recipients is even less. In the enterprise, where you could have several thousand employees, this could mean that many emails remain unsent as the limit will most likely be hit quite early in the day.
Ed very sensibly points out...
It’s not hard to imagine scenarios in which a small business can bump up against that number. In this case, the new CEO had sent a getting-acquainted message to 400 of the company’s customers and prospects. But it could easily happen to any small business. Imagine if your little company rolls out a new product that gets a mention on the Today Show or a high-profile web site like ZDNet. You could easily have 500 messages in your inbox when you get to work in the morning. If you try to respond to every one, even with a form response, you’ll hit that 500-recipient lockout before your first coffee break.
I cna only imagine, though there is little evidence of this, that this clause could exist to prevent Office 365 Exchange accounts being used for spam. It could also exist though to ensure that Microsoft's servers, from where Office 365 is hosted and run, don't get swamped.
Ed contacted Microsoft who said...
In the world of email, one of the thresholds that must be enforced is the amount of email that is sent through the system by any one user or organization in order to combat spam, mass-mailing worms & viruses. To ensure that all users experience the level of performance, email delivery expediency and client connectivity behavior that they expect, we must determine what usage typifies behavior of a spammer, for example, and put controls in place to prevent such inappropriate use. We ask customers with legitimate needs for a service that exceeds these thresholds or must go beyond these limitations to contact support so that we can best meet their specific needs.
It's crystal clear though that these limits are far too low for the average business. It would prevent product launches as Ed says, or bring an entire office to a grinding halt before lunchtime on a busy day. This could, and probably will leave many customers twiddling their thumbs while they wait, probably in vein, for Microsoft to rectify the block for them.
At the very least this will potentially put people off buying into a extremely good service. Would it put you off?
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