Left: Unintelligible Windows Live - Microsoft screen CAPTCHA
All I wanted to do was unsubscribe from an annoying email from Microsoft. However, I wound up with a 30-minute ordeal trying a variety of methods to get the Microsoft Windows Live site to issue me a new password so I could remove my email address from their system.
The process seemed simple enough, as there was a friendly "Forgot your password?" prompt. However, most of the written CAPTCHA character collections contained at least a few indecipherable squiggles, and after about a dozen CAPTCHA failures I decided to try the audio CAPTCHA.
The audio CAPTCHA used by Microsoft has a woman speaking numbers as several other voices speak, making it difficult to even hear the 10-digit sequence, let alone type it in as the voice rapidly ripped through the numbers. On top of that, it sounded like the Microsoft CAPTCHA designers deliberately added electronic hiss and crackle to the mix, making for an audio production almost beyond comprehension.
After about a half-hour of frustration, bouncing back and forth between audio and written CAPTCHAS, I managed to get lucky and find a written string that I could actually read. This, however, was a heavy price to pay for unsubscribing to Microsoft's emails, and it leads me to believe that this is a deliberate attempt by the Windows Live folks to make it almost impossible to stop receiving their quasi-spam.