Microsoft announced late last week that it has significantly updated the anti-spam tools for its MSN family of Internet services, including Hotmail, an effort that will help protect hundreds of millions of people each day from receiving unwanted email. Microsoft notes that it now blocks over 2.4 billion spam emails every day, or about 80 percent of the total volume of email it routes to its customers. The technology behind the MSN anti-spam tools will also be released in Exchange Server 2003 and Office 2003 later this year, the company says.
"Spam is no longer just an inconvenience for consumers and the online industry; it has become a major problem, one that makes it hard for people to sort through their personal email and reduces productivity," said Lisa Gurry, the group product manager for MSN at Microsoft. "MSN drew a line in the sand with MSN 8 and its powerful spam-fighting tools. With these and other tools, as well as increased consumer education, we are striving to deliver the best resources to significantly reduce the flow of spam."
Recent updates to the anti-spam technology in MSN and Hotmail adds the ability to block images in HTML email unless the sender is in the user's contacts list. This feature can prevent spam from ensuring that the message was read, which can result in the user getting more spam in the future. The feature can also be seen in beta release of Microsoft Office 2003. Additionally, Microsoft recently added a new feature to MSN and Hotmail called Human Interactive Proof (HIP) that prevents spammers from anonymously and automatically creating temporary Hotmail accounts to send spam; the company says this effort has reduced new email account creation by 20 percent.