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The World’s Favourite Spammer

I doubt that Microsoft’s announcement that it will partner BrightMail in the war against Spam could really be down to CW360 but the company’s stony silence over the last six months, might imply that it was at least listening to the torrent of criticism that was being thrown at them.

Microsoft’s own employees have been embarrassed by its stance on unsolicited email, particularly as Hotmail attracts the worst kind of pornographic content that might normally be filtered out by more responsible ISPs. The problem, you may remember, goes back to Microsoft’s decision to make subscribers email addresses available, by default, on the InfoSpace ‘White Pages’ directory, which unless you have happened to ticked the ‘opt-out’ box on when you registered, becomes fair game for the Spammers trawling the Web for new email addresses. To be honest, I’m sure I was caught this way, as I have absolutely no recollection of the tick-box in question, which is buried somewhere among the other long list of partners and services that I really don’t want to hear from.

Microsoft, of course, believes that listing my address on InfoSpace is a benefit, because I can choose not to have my details shown but as its common knowledge that InfoSpace has been effectively raped by the Spam industry, I don’t quite see the advantage, other than a commercial one for Microsoft.

So know, thanks to the aid of BrightMail’s filtering technology on the Hotmail gateway, Microsoft can continue, “With its commitment to aggressively fight spam”. I’m sure you’re laughing too?

When I logged on for the first time this morning, there were seven new emails in my Hotmail inbox. All of these were Spam. At the end of yesterday, the total of Spam messages in my trash can was twenty-one, as opposed to eight in my company email account – still bad enough.

Hotmail claims one hundred and ten million users, so if I’m averaging five hundred pieces of junk mail a month, that’s six thousand a year multiplied by one hundred million, if I happen to be an average user? This is an awful lot of junk mail by any standard and must be costing Microsoft a fortune in bandwidth. Furthermore, if we arbitrarily value my reading an email at the modest price of fifty pence, it’s costing me £3,000 a year in lost productivity on my Hotmail account alone! Now multiply that by the number of employees in your company picking up their Hotmail each day?

And before I finish my ‘rant of the day’, this week’s Spam prize goes to The World’s Favourite Airline.

Although I recollect opting-out of the communications and special messages box for my British Airways Executive Club, twice now, they still believe that my name is McNally and are sending me irresistible offers of a flight to Manchester for only £59.00. While I’m sure that Manchester has a great deal to offer as weekend destination, I’d rather not be bothered and have told BA as much. So much for the opt-out option enshrined in European legislation. Does anybody really worry about it? Has anyone ever been prosecuted for ignoring it? You guess!

And now Microsoft and BrightMail have cuddled-up to each other, I’m hoping that I’ll be safe from any more offers of mortgages in Detroit, instant loans, cures for baldness and a much longer ego, helped in part by offers of Viagra. More importantly perhaps, it may save the UK economy at least £600 million a year in wasted productivity – my estimate – and might even be enough to rally FTSE.

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