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Has Microsoft 'Solved' Spam?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the depends-on-your-definition-of-solved dept.

Spam 337

MsWillow writes to tell us the Seattle PI is running a story looking back at Bill Gates promise to have the spam problem "solved" in two years. Well, it looks like time is up, and the verdict is -- an emphatic "maybe". From the article: "Microsoft says it sees things differently. To "solve" the problem for consumers in the short run doesn't require eliminating spam entirely, said Ryan Hamlin, the general manager who oversees the company's anti-spam programs. Rather, he said, the idea is to contain it to the point that its impact on in-boxes is minor. In that way, Hamlin said, Gates' prediction has come true for people using the right tactics and advanced filtering technology."

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Same way they solved Virii (5, Insightful)

jsimon12 (207119) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538436)

Give me a break, I very distinctly remember Microsoft saying that with the advent of protected mode operating systems that virii would become a thing of the past. Hmmm, do I even need to say any more?

Re:Same way they solved Virii (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14538479)

The word is viruses. We're speaking English, not Latin. And that would be wrong in Latin also. Should be viri if we were speaking Latin. I know, fighting a losing battle.

Re:Same way they solved Virii (2, Informative)

wertarbyte (811674) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538584)

Should be viri if we were speaking Latin.

No, "virus" is not of male gender like "dominus", but neuter like "domus". Therefore, the correct plural should be "virus", with a long "u". But I only barely survived my latin lessons, so I would not count on it.

Re:Same way they solved Virii (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14538731)

"Things called viruseses they go the house?"

Re:Same way they solved Virii (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14538723)

>We're speaking English, not Latin.

Nahh, we're speaking computer jargon. Virii fits in that vocabulary just as other "non-words" do, like boxen, meece and internets. It's a fun play on words.

If you don't like it, well, there was a company that only wanted things done one way, and that way was perfectly uptight and "right". Unfortunately, that company doesn't operate that way anymore (I wonder why? Perhaps being uptight doesn't make for good sales PR or happy engineers anymore?) Care to guess the company and the timeframe? I can give you some hints: They were absolutely hated by most for their activities and attitude at the time, but like another company today, the saying was "You can't get fired for buying [company name]". They also had a very strict blue tie and blue suit dress code at the time (but a white shirt!)

(For those who don't know: It's IBM before the late 80's)

Personally, I like being associated with the fun people more than those guys. Perhaps you do too! In that case, drop the pretense and be yourself!

So why did they spend $150M on Frontbridge? (1)

someone_anyone (948180) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538629)

if the problem is solved, then I'm sure MS shareholders be very surprised at spending that kind of money on a problem that doesn't exist anymore...

Re:Same way they solved Virii (1)

dc29A (636871) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538681)

Give me a break, I very distinctly remember Microsoft saying that with the advent of protected mode operating systems that virii would become a thing of the past. Hmmm, do I even need to say any more?

Viruses on Mainframes? Linux? Macs? If Microsoft would have wanted, they could have eliminated a lot of scumware by something as simple as not letting everyone and their mother run as root. I wish they would "innovate" again and implement something like Ubuntu's no_on_has_access_to_root_user security setting.

Re:Same way they solved Virii (2, Interesting)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538818)

This would be a PR nightmare, even by Microsoft standards.

What keeps them in business is that pretty much anyone over 25 buys a new machine with windows because it's easier. Especially companies. If the mainstream media announced that MS was "locking down" Windows (and they certainly would), it would definitely be enough to make even grandma think twice about getting an upgrade, regardless of how much "safer" it made things.

Can Microsoft Solve Anything? (-1, Troll)

abx0r (947785) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538437)

Can Microsoft Solve Anything?

Re:Can Microsoft Solve Anything? (0)

ylikone (589264) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538592)

You may be modded as a troll, but you ask a valid question. Can they solve anything themselves? Seems to me they just copy others innovations... which I guess can be considered solving something, albeit not with much honor.

Re:Can Microsoft Solve Anything? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14538593)

"Can Microsoft Solve Anything?" - by abx0r (947785) on Monday January 23, @08:39AM

Yes, they can put you to work and far more than Linux can, this is certain!

So, you sit around slashdot typing forums replies on your Linux box here all day (while I go make money coding applications in Visual Studio 2005 (mostly VB.NET thin-client apps, but also Windows apps as well) talking to SQL Server 2005 on Windows Server 2003 SP #1 if that suits you).

That works for me, how about you?

Face it - In corporate america, Windows usage far outstrips that of Linux and gives people jobs in far greater numbers than Linux does, and because of that surface area you have a greater chance of being employed if you have good skills on Windows, its applications, and coding for it.

From the home or work desktop/laptop, thru departmental servers, up to Back Office apps like Exchange or SQLServer (and even DB/2 and Oracle)?

They run on Windows operating systems in far larger numbers than Linux and its severe lack of applications (and support of peripheral hardware by comparison to Windows & device drivers for said hardwares) for as many purposes as Windows has.

APK

P.S.=> I feel sorry in a way for students who put their hearts into Linux, until they come out into a corporate world where Windows is in far greater use, and thus, provides them with far more potential for employment. Learning Linux can help them (because it does get used, but in far lesser %'s than Windows does and for less of a range of purposes) & especially for systems like Solaris, HP-UX, etc./et all (older UNIX's)... but then, they aren't making themselves my competitors either, so I can live with that - it's ALL about the choices you make.

I had to make the same ones as a student 15 years ago, when it was a Novell vs. NT 3.5x world, & I chose Win32 development & Windows NT/2000 network engineering-administration - glad I did, jobs abound, even thru the .dot bubble burst (but, 2004 was bad for everyone from what I read, the worst of it). Jobs are coming back in our field again though, which I am sure you ALL noticed.

Anyhow: Microsoft products, since they are so largely used in corporate environs, make a far more attractive target as well - they get attacked because of that, because if you think hacker/cracker types are in it just for 'shits-n-giggle' & just to cause mischief?

Think again: They're out to steal & get power/money, & information IS power & eventually money gained via illegal ends (use your imagination here).

Hacker/Cracker types? Heck - I don't dislike them, like many do - they are doing MS a favor (and the end users of their OS + wares) exposing things they may have missed in testing & once those exposed security holes &/or bugs get patched, MS & its product lines just get stronger... & so do I! apk

Re:Can Microsoft Solve Anything? (0)

abx0r (947785) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538667)

Who said I used Linux? I'm pretty sure I'm using Windows XP. Care to prove me wrong?

In short... (5, Insightful)

gowen (141411) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538441)

Microsoft has solved spam by ... erm... recommending all the strategies that people were already using before Microsoft set out to solve spam. A hearty thank you to Uncle Bill, then.

Re:In short... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14538491)

You missed one. Microsoft solved spam by ... redefining "solved."

Re:In short... (1)

Hugh Manatee (919348) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538764)

That depends on your definition of 'redefined'

Re:In short... (2, Informative)

j-cloth (862412) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538528)

And one of those strategies is to use any system other than the MS system. Have you used IMF on Exchange? On mine, about 90% of the spam still gets through and about 60% of what is caught is false positive. And the only tuning possible is ever increasing white/blacklists.

Now I love Bill Gates, he's the greatest. (1, Funny)

svanstrom (734343) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538552)

I used to hate Bill Gates, but now I love him... Not only did he fight to stop spam, but he actually managed to do just that for me years before he started working on it. He's a genius!!!

Now, how do I go about paying him for all the hard work he put into all the hours I spent working on procmail-filters, programming and, not to mention, create the wonderful bogofilter-projekt?

Re:In short... (-1, Offtopic)

DuctTape (101304) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538661)

In other words...

Mission Accomplished!

DT

Mod parent up (-1, Offtopic)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538793)

My favorite is the new one: "The President has the Constitutional authority to violate the Constitution."

-Eric

When you fail, (5, Funny)

w.p.richardson (218394) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538444)

try, try again.

Or you can move the goalpost in the middle of the game. That's easier.

Eliminating spam means eliminating spam!

Re:When you fail, (2, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538665)

try, try again.

Or conversely, when you fail, change the requirements and make it look like a success, which is exactly what BG has done. Brilliant!

Re:When you fail, (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538776)

Indeed. Just because the spam is deleted before the end-user sees it, does not mean that the spam doesn't exist, or that it doesn't have a bogus effect on bandwidth and ISPs.

What's this spam? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14538445)

Never heard of it. By the way, visit my blog at dvorak.org/blog [dvorak.org] . Cheers,

John

looks better from where I sit (2, Interesting)

DeveloperAdvantage (923539) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538456)

I wouldn't say the problem is solved, but it is getting better.

Re:looks better from where I sit (1)

frostfreek (647009) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538898)

Please report immediately to Microsoft Brain Reprogramming, so that your definition of the problem can be modified such as to render it now "solved". - Bill

Horse before the cart (4, Insightful)

mgv (198488) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538461)

You solve spam when it stops being sent, not when you stop recieving it.

These technologies wont work until they are nearly 100% effective. If even a few messages slip through to some users, some people will buy things from spam ads. Which is all the economic incentive a spammer needs. So all they do is hide the problem, not really solve it.

Bandwidth is still being wasted.

Michael

Re:Horse before the cart (1)

utexaspunk (527541) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538594)

What's weird is that pretty much the only spam I get seems like stuff sent as chaff to throw off bayesian filters. The stuff that reads like zen poetry. It's nonsensical and doesn't appear to be selling me anything. When I do get one that's trying to sell me something, if I follow the link usually the site is down. Spam seems pretty useless to me. Unless people are just using it as a vector to get to people's inboxes or something.

Re:Horse before the cart (1)

DrPizza (558687) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538658)

I don't agree. I couldn't care less about sending spam. The thing that bothers me is receiving it. If I can reliably ensure that I receive no spam (but receive any and all ham) then the problem is solved.

And as far as I can tell, the only way to stop it being sent is to stop it being lucrative. And the only viable mechanism to achieve that is to stop people from receiving it.

Re:Horse before the cart (1)

FridayBob (619244) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538746)

"You solve spam when it stops being sent, not when you stop recieving it."

I don't see how you can stop the spammers from trying as long as they figure they have nothing to loose or the risks are acceptable. As I see it, this problem can only be solved once it becomes illegal everywhere to send spam from anywhere to anyone, and it becomes impossible for the senders to obfuscate their identities. This way, no one would ever want to send any spam. If they did anyway, they would risk being reported, following which some sort of fine or punishment would be a certainty. In this scenario, the only form of email-advertising left would be opt-in.

As for the bandwidth issue, as long as your mail server is properly configured and set to reject obvious spam messages (based on header info) as opposed to bouncing them, you won't be wasting nearly as much of your resources.

A Plan for Spam (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538464)

I scoff at Bill Gates' "efforts" to reduce spam. What has he done precisely?

Probably just deferred the responsibility to one of his underlings. Aside from that, he talks about crazy methods such as deciding how much money the sender has to pay you before you open the e-mail [cbsnews.com] .

Gates has plenty [microsoft.com] of articles [microsoft.com] which detail how much he hates spam. Anyone can sit down and write this, but Gates gets the high exposure interviews with the Wall Street Journal and the AP.

Gates is all talk. If you want to read some articles from some very interesting people, check out A Plan for Spam [paulgraham.com] by Paul Graham. It talks about simple ways to write Bayesian spam filters and does a very good job at describing how they work. Another valuable member of the anti-spam community is Jonathon Zdziarski [nuclearelephant.com] who has written many books about how to actually get rid of spam. You can also read the Slashdot interview [slashdot.org] with him.

Re:A Plan for Spam (1)

jcaldwel (935913) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538631)

What has he done precisely?

Too much... it's hard to deliver spam to software with such poor uptime.

Re:A Plan for Spam (2, Informative)

willie3204 (444890) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538829)

I run Exchange 2003 SP2 with IMFv2.0 built in and I have not seen a spam in weeks. I also run the Antigen counterpart for Spam and Anti Virus. The majority of emails is caught by IMF though. He has done THAT much. And I am very happy with the results.

My Hotmail Inbox (2, Funny)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538471)

My Hotmail Inbox averages about 2 spams a week. However, my "junk mail" occasionally has a legitimate email dropped in there too. However all things considered, 2 spams a week in my Inbox isn't that bad.

So, yeah, Microsoft may have "solved" spam .. but their solution has rounding errors.

Re:My Hotmail Inbox (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14538525)

Gmail, on the other hand, has spam filters that actually work. I get about 1 spam message in my inbox each week, while the other 75 or so are in my spam filter, and I think I've had a total of one message ever incorrectly marked as spam.

If efficient filters were what it was to "solve" spam, than Google has come pretty close.

-TCM

What? You have to keep checking Junk Mail then!?` (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14538537)

However, my "junk mail" occasionally has a legitimate email dropped in there too. However all things considered, 2 spams a week in my Inbox isn't that bad.


So if this happens at any frequency .. it means you might as well count the Junk Mail folder as part of your Inbox .. and count all the spams in there daily .. cause now you have to check the Junk Mail folder in case something went in there by mistake.

Re:My Hotmail Inbox (4, Insightful)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538684)

My Hotmail Inbox averages about 2 spams a week. However, my "junk mail" occasionally has a legitimate email dropped in there too. However all things considered, 2 spams a week in my Inbox isn't that bad.

That's not "solving" spam, that's masking it. My company uses RBLs at the external mail gateways to try and control the flow of spam into our network. 80% (200,000 of 250,000 daily messages) is directly blocked via this method... that bandwidth is still being used, but we halt the flood of the e-mail to our internal mail servers before it can be a burden to our users.

Of the mail that does get through, another 20% is still spam that didn't get blocked by an RBL so it has to pass through another anti-spam gateway (spamassassin) that does analysis and tagging of the message before passing it on to the internal mail server. Of the mail that gets through, roughly 5-10% is probably mismarked as not being spam when it is. That ends up being a shitload of mail that still gets through into a user's inbox that they have to review and delete. Spread that across thousands of users and you have a very real problem.

What we really need are vigilantes to go out and kill the spammers. We have their names and their addresses on the ROKSO list. Kill those 200 spammers and it'll prove a powerful lesson to the remaining ones that haven't popped up on the radar yet. People need to learn that if they spam they will die. Without that threat I'm afraid spam will only become an ever-increasing problem until there will come a point where e-mail is a completely useless medium to use for communications without redesigning the protocol.

So, anyone got an ex-con brother who doesn't care whether he lands back in prison or not? ;-)

/joking of course, please don't kill anyone... just break their hands.

Re:My Hotmail Inbox (1)

stunt_penguin (906223) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538751)

Huh, depsite being set up , my hotmail spam filter has never, ever caught a single piece of the 5-6 spams I get a day.

In contrast, gmail has a 100% hit rate on identifying my spam and not junking my real messages.

Bill gates can bite my ass.

hotmail as source [was]:My Hotmail Inbox (1)

lemonjelo (157554) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538755)

I get an order of magnitude more attempts to deliver spam from msn/hotmail servers than anywhere else, so, no, they haven't "solved" it in their own system yet. My spamtrap addresses get hit so frequently from their servers I had to whitelist their address space.

close as i get (1)

DarkClown (7673) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538486)

using thunderbird's filters and gmail is as close as i've gotten to a manageable situation, of course the gmail account isn't as old and grey as the last account i retired due to unmanageable spam.....

Re:close as i get (3, Interesting)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538679)

I get tons of spam in gmail but it all goes to the spam folder. I don't even remember the last time I had spam/phish mails on my gmail inbox.

Re:close as i get (1)

Antifuse (651387) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538830)

I forward all my domain email to my gmail account now, and I can verify that Gmail's spam filters suck. I stopped actually keeping track of the numbers, but after 3 months [ryanwaddell.com] it was a pretty-dang-shoddy 79% effectiveness. The freeware (and kickass, but not useful if you want to check your email online) Popfile [sourceforge.net] kicked the living crap out of Gmail - it was something like 97% effective after the first month of training, and never ever dropped lower than that. I gave GMail a chance, but they BLEW it! :)

I hear that... (-1, Offtopic)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538490)

...640K is all the memory a computer will ever need. Really.

Re:I hear that... (1)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538627)

So I gather the topic isn't a prediction that Bill Gates made that hasn't come true. Glad people cleared that up.

Hotmail's Spam Filter is TOO Good (5, Interesting)

jbash (784046) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538498)

I run an Internet business. I hate when people write me from a hotmail address because there are low odds that my even *replying* to their email will get through their filter. Every once in awhile I'll run into this situation...

Customer with a hotmail address emails me with a question.

I hit reply and give them my answer

A few days later they write me again asking why I haven't responded.

I reply again. They don't get my response. They then get pissed and I lose the sale.

The problem is that Hotmail errs on the side of filtering out too much when you can't even reply to a hotmail user. And many people don't even bother to check their "spam" folders.

I'm no computer engineer, but I would think that merely replying to an email should make it through a spam filter 100% of the time. It's amazing that a company like Microsoft can't hire engineers competent enough to figure that out.

Well as a computer engineer (4, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538570)

How would you know that an email is a reply?

I am to unpopular to get a lot of spam but the few I get on my gmail account all seem to be beginning with "Re:" clearly seeking to trick me into believing it is a reply.

Of course you could check the headers but these could easily be faked. In seen spams in the past that got through where I had real trouble figuring out where the fuck they came from. Some I even seemed to have sent myself.

The only real way to check it would be for hotmail to keep a track record of everyone you send mail to, add them to your adress book and then let those emails bypass your spam filters.

Silly Hotmail for not doing that. OH wait, they do! When you send an email via hotmail you are asked wether you want to add that person to your contact list. Most people don't bother.

My tip to you? Make it very clear that if they contact you via hotmail it may be filtered. Also check why you are being spam filtered. Is it based on your hostname or is the content of your email to spammy?

I know your pain, I dealt with it myself although in my case I am not depended on hotmail users so simply don't care that much. It is a lot of extra work but that is the cost of spam. No spam, no spam filters. It is something people often forget, it is not just the bandwidth cost and the time wasted sorting through spam but also the fact the real emails get lost in the mess. But don't worry, Bill Gates promised he would solve it. Has he ever lied before?

Re:Well as a computer engineer (2, Insightful)

jbellis (142590) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538682)

"The only real way to check it would be for hotmail to keep a track record of everyone you send mail to, add them to your adress book and then let those emails bypass your spam filters. Silly Hotmail for not doing that. OH wait, they do! When you send an email via hotmail you are asked wether you want to add that person to your contact list. Most people don't bother."

OR you would do something REALLY INNOVATIVE and automatically add recipients to a whitelist that is SEPARATE from the contacts list.

Wow, I should patent that. It's clearly non-obvious since neither MS nor Joe Higher-opinion-of-himself-than-he-deserves on Slashdot thought of it!

Re:Well as a computer engineer (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538839)


I know your pain, I dealt with it myself although in my case I am not depended on hotmail users so simply don't care that much. It is a lot of extra work but that is the cost of spam. No spam, no spam filters. It is something people often forget, it is not just the bandwidth cost and the time wasted sorting through spam but also the fact the real emails get lost in the mess.


Spamassassin doesn't lose any of my valid emails.

Um... so what's a reply then? (1, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538773)

I mean, how is a reply different from a normal email in such a way that the spammers couldn't just make all of their spam emails appear to be replies?

As you said, you're not a computer engineer, lots of other people are and they haven't come up with a solution yet because it isn't as simple as you seem to think it is.

 

Re:Hotmail's Spam Filter is TOO Good (1)

Apathetic1 (631198) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538785)

I think "too good" is giving Hotmail way too much credit. My friends who still use Hotmail routinely have junk routed to their Inbox and e-mail from a real, genuine person dropped in the Junk folder. I'm not talking about spam that's hard to filter, either - my friend showed me her Inbox one day and the subject line of one of her messages was "Cheap Meds".

Paul Graham (2, Informative)

putko (753330) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538503)

I thought that Paul Graham and some other folks, solved this problem with Bayesian filtering.

Paul Graham has a famous essay, A Plan For Spam: http://www.paulgraham.com/spam.html [paulgraham.com]

Meaningful answer (1, Funny)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538507)

"The problem is [bbc.co.uk] solved."

-- Bill

I thought spam was dead... (2)

LarsWestergren (9033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538510)

There is this site called Slashdot [slashdot.org] that reported this just 10 days ago...

That's an easy one... (2, Insightful)

xiphoris (839465) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538515)

No.

But, to their credit, that is an extremely hard problem to solve. In many other areas of software engineering, where you "solve" a problem once, the solution is much easier because it is just a technical limitation to be overcome. Spam is different, however, because you're fighting against other people all who have strong financial incentives to defeat your system.

I'd still say "don't promise what you can't deliver", though. As some critics have pointed out [blogspot.com] , failure to do that just may be a systemic problem at Microsoft right now. Hopefully there will be some internal accountability for this one.

That makes sense (1)

harrouet (657486) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538519)

That makes sense because there is a financial incentive to do so:
  1. Create the ultimate spam filter: all spam goes to the junk folder with very little mistakes
  2. Sell advertising space to advertisers who want to figure in good place on a "white list", so your spam is not filtered.
  3. Profit !!!

Lies, Damn Lies, and Marketing (5, Insightful)

lheal (86013) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538521)

It's amazing to me how adept markedrones have become in spinning reality to fit their needs.

Spam still chokes mail gateways and causes everyone who uses email a hassle. You still can't advertize your email address. Upwards of 90% of the mail that reaches my mail server is spam, usually. Mail filters have been there for more than two years, though they've gotten better as spam has gotten better.

Spam volume has leveled off, but that's mostly because the system is already saturated.

If Microsoft really wanted to do something about spam, they'd fix the bugs and unthinkable design decisions that has allowed their software to be taken over and used to send it.

If MS 'Solved' Spam, Then why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14538534)

... am I getting spam emails titled "Breaking news: Bill Gates is dead!"

Microsoft? More likely everyone else. (3, Interesting)

courtarro (786894) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538542)

Even if we've managed to keep spam to a minimum, and we've changed the word "eliminate" somehow to mean "reduce", can anyone honestly say we have Microsoft to thank for all this?

Oh, and that prediction I made 5 years ago about reducing telemarketers' phone calls? You can all thank me now.

Outlook 2003's spam filter has solved it for me (2, Informative)

Deviant (1501) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538548)

Actually Microsoft has done far more than anybody else in helping me with Spam. The spam filter for Outlook 2003 is very good and Office Update regularly provides updates to the filter that bring it up to date with some of the latest major sources/types to look for. I set it up a level in how aggressive it is, which has resulted in a false positive or two every now and again, and I have not seen any spam in my inbox in some time.

Don't knock MS on spam until you see Outlook 2003's spam filter. The question becomes if they have the technology that they do in Outlook then why can't the incorporate it into hotmail as well? I would ask the same question about Exchange but I guess they figure most people using an Exchange server are doing it with Outlook.

Re:Outlook 2003's spam filter has solved it for me (3, Interesting)

hgkjhgkjhg (946257) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538666)

The only problem with your statement is you're talking about a filter at the end point, and so it only helps those that actually use Outlook. I do not ( and I know I'm not alone). So, to re-iterate what has already been said... Microsoft has NOT "eliminated spam". They may have reduced it in the inboxes of people who use their products, but thats a huge leap in logic to say they eliminated it. I have seen a huge drop in spam in my inbox as well, but since I do not use any Microsoft products, I cannot attribute the change to MS. In my case I believe it is actually my ISP (Earthlink) who is making the biggest difference.

Re:Outlook 2003's spam filter has solved it for me (2, Interesting)

Deviant (1501) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538888)

I don't think it is a fair criticism of MS to judge them by that standard. Fistly, it makes sense that the only people who they are going to help with spam are those using their products. I take "eliminate spam" to mean that they are going to eliminate it from our inboxes. Considering that most SMTP servers are not Exchange and the majority of internet traffic doesn't run through their servers the idea that they can, and should, stop all that traffic pertaining to unsolicited emails is rather ridiculous.

Has the level of spam that I have received gone down? Most definetly it has. Are they responsible? Yes they are. It is that simple...

As a previous poster alluded to with the problems of spam filtering - I am the only one who can really decide whether a certain piece of mail is unsolicited or not and I am glad that some SMTP server or mail forwarder in the middle doesn't filter it out before it gets to me so that I never have the opportunity to decide for myself on my rules/conditions.

Needless to say, there are all kinds of problems introduced when third-parties can start to decide what mail I should and should not receive without my input/knowledge. And that means that I don't want it to be eliminated by your definition - even if it was possible.

Re:Outlook 2003's spam filter has solved it for me (1)

Screaming Harlot (942308) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538812)

Oh yes, wonderful Outlook. It has been a beacon of email security since... Well, since never. Business people that use Outlook are either forced to, or aren't savvy at all.

What to do with SPAM when you get it (4, Funny)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538556)

Other initiatives by the company include efforts to teach consumers about what to do with spam when they do receive it.

Here [pitt.edu] is an idea:

THREE BEAN SALAD w/SPAM!

7-oz can SPAM, cubed 1/2"
1/3 cup choppd onion
16-oz can cut green beans, drained 1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cooking oil
16-oz can yellow wax beans, drained
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 tsp pepper
16-oz can kidney beans, drained
1 tbsp stone ground mustard

In medium bowl combine SPAM, green beans, wax beans, kidney beans and onion. In small bowl combine remaining ingredients; pour over SPAM mixture. Stir gently, mixing thoroughly. Cover; refrigerate 2 to 3 hours or until serving time. Yield: 6 servings.

Business plan (5, Funny)

JabrTheHut (640719) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538562)

Step 1: Make outrageous promise
Step 2: Make sure the media pick it up and spread it around
Step 3: Do nothing
Step 4: Redefine what you meant 2 years on
Step 5: Profit!

A bit more complicated than the underwear gnomes' business plan, but much more profitable.

Re:Business plan (1, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538707)

Sorry, the Bush Administration has a prior art claim on that business plan, although their version of it has "Step 3: Do whatever the hell we feel like".

Nice try. You get a C for efford (1)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538571)

Sounds to me that Microsoft's spokesman redefined the previously imposed objective (distorted/reinterpreted what the company said before) so that it can be in a position to claim success. To make matters worse, after Microsoft redefinition of it's previously goal, it still isn't in a position to claim victory and defined the company's results as a success. ...which is sad, really. In the end what this action means is that they have failed and that they are claiming a defeat.

Grab the evil at the root (1)

GroeFaZ (850443) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538572)

FTA: "Microsoft, which gathers evidence by collecting spam in special "trap" e-mail accounts, has filed more than 100 lawsuits against alleged spammers and reached settlements worth about $10 million."

Sounds clever to me:

step 1: market an OS to the point where it is a de facto desktop monopoly
step 2: combine clueless users and OS security flaws with unwillingness or inability to fix the OS problems
step 3: watch bot nets grow
step 4: sue spammers and settle for $$
step 5: Profit!

Yeah I know, 10 Megadollar is a drop in the bucket for Microsoft, but Microsoft should be held responsible for its share of the blame as well, and they sure as hell shouldn't profit off of it. As usual, the customer is the only one who has nothing to gain from the problem or its solution.

Ummm... no. (1)

HairyCanary (688865) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538596)

My inbox is doing quite well, all things considered. I get one or two a day. If I were not doing any filtering at all, I'd get about 200 a day. So I would say that spam filtering has come a long way. But I would most emphatically deny that Microsoft has had anything to do with that. I use Postini. And I do not use any kind of client-side filtering. Microsoft has nothing to do with my success, and I expect that is true of the majority of e-mail users.

Blatantly obvious post (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538598)

the idea is to contain it to the point that its impact on in-boxes is minor. /i.

Zero would be nice. Thank you.

the gmail answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14538608)

after abolut a year with gmail, and a completely weird name too, i have gotten a total of 5 spam messages. gmail does a good job. my answer to spam: have a different name. something basic is gonna attract more and more spam!

No need to eliminate it (1)

dilvish_the_damned (167205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538613)

Only tax it. Such as in the way they havent quite eliminated in with hotmail. There are those spammers allowed to spam after paying the hotmail tax.

spam wont die (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14538621)

Untill the smtp protocol is rewritten or killed off.
The design is flawed.

By the way microsoft has not solved the spam problem. My hotmail and yahoo email accounts are filled with tons of spam. my hotmail account has alot less spam then my yahoo account mainly due to the fact I dont post it on websites and other stuff. Hotmail even spam there own users, same with yahoo.

Definition of "spam problem" (1)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538643)

It's not a question of how you define "solved" but how you define the problem. If you mean "much less spam in my inbox" then filters are doing a good job. If you mean "zero spam in my inbox, and no wanted mail in my spam box, and spam isn't consuming 50% of the world's bandwidth" then we have a long, long way to go.

I've got a better idea! (2, Funny)

stavromueller (934803) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538664)

Er... how about microsoft just run all its mail through a GMail account? That would filter all the spam.

getting rid of spam (1)

NynexNinja (379583) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538671)

I block about 99% of my incoming spam simply by doing a whois on each incoming IP and then firewalling the netblock if it originates from APNIC (asia), LACNIC (south america), and RIPE (europe). This works good for me, because I don't expect anyone from overseas providers sending me email. The other 1% is handled by spamassassin and DSPAM.

Solved? (1)

azav (469988) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538672)

Well, that's a pretty half assed conclusion.

The problem of spam is solved when people don't have to use filtering options.

Anyone want some of my daily rolex, stock, viagra, or prescription spam?

Yeah Right (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538674)

Based on my inboxes, I'll have to say that spam is pretty much solved, a long time ago. But it wasn't solved by Microsoft. My hotmail gets hundreds of spams a day, and they all end up in my inbox. On the other hand, My yahoo account also gets hundreds of spam a day. Only 2 or 3 get to my inbox. The rest go to my bulk mail folder. My other account that I don't post everywhere on the web gets maybe 20 spam per day, but none of it ever gets to my inbox. Maybe 1 or 2 a week. It uses spam assassin to weed out the spam. Neither of the three ever seem to get any false positives. I haven't had a problem with spam in a while, except with hotmail. Which seems to be extremely bad at getting rid of spam, unless you turn on the whitelist feature, which although it gets rid of the spam, is not a very good way of dealing with it, because everybody not in your address book ends up in your spam box.

Supply and Demand? (5, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538675)

Microsoft and Google and Symantec are not the warriors on the spam battle front. They can do nothing to properly reduce the costs of fighting spam (the costs that the end user doesn't see but definitely pays for). The warriors are us, geeks and techies who know the real solution.

Spam continues to be produced because it is generating income. I like to don my black hat and look at the spam forums and see that there still are people making boatloads of money for little investment. Investing US$10,000 in a spam campaign has net some people US$50,000 in a few months!

Why does spam generate income? Users continue to click. I have e-mail relationships with people all over the world on a daily basis, and it really blows my mind how some very bright people seem to be Internet morons. I honestly believe that the great majority of the world's Internet users have no idea how to properly browse or read e-mail.

Turning off images is a huge step in the right direction (I had already told many people to turn them off if the e-mail programmed allowed it). What other things have you told your friends or family to do to prevent the dreaded "my computer is so slow" phone call? How many times have you EVER clicked spam? The ratio is the answer to the question: teach others proper Internet usage techniques.

Ironic (1)

brenddie (897982) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538683)

considering how many windoze machines are being used as spam relays.

Bill Gates was the person with the record of receiving the most spam in the world, like 4 millions of messages daily http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4023667.stm [bbc.co.uk] .
Speaking at a Microsoft event in Singapore, Mr Ballmer said: "Bill Gates (is first) because he is Bill Gates. Bill literally receives four million pieces of e-mail per day, most of it spam." "Literally there's a whole department almost that takes care of it," he said. Mr Ballmer said he was "probably also amongst the most spammed people in the world", because he gives out his email address whenever he makes a speech. But he said only about 10 e-mails a day made it through to his inbox, because of anti-spam technology that filters the messages.
So the solution is to get rid of my current spamassasing set up and devote a department to spam filtering. Good to know.

Oh, the joys of revisionism... (1)

httpamphibio.us (579491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538690)

"In that way, Hamlin said, Gates' prediction has come true for people using the right tactics and advanced filtering technology."

We were all using the right tactics and advanced filtering technology two years ago, weren't we? If that's what Gates had intended when he made the promise, he was promising something that already existed.

How Does Microsoft Change a Light Bulb? (2, Funny)

nathanh (1214) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538694)

They don't. Instead they define dark as the new standard.

And you thought it was a joke... receiving spam is now the Microsoft definition of being spam-free!

It depends (1)

zlogic (892404) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538712)

When I first registered my Gmail inbox, I got 3 spam messages in a week's period. Now it's 25 messages a day. And I never left my address in any suspicious place.
It strikes me that the same people are sending the same spam over and over again. 40% is 0em s0f7w4re, 40% is p3n1s pi11s, and 10% is University Degrees, and I'd say that all the mail I get is sent from about 5-6 companies, each sending 2-4 emails a day. And these spammers don't even bother to change their subject lines! How stupid they are to think that the more mail I send, the higher chance I'll buy their stuff.

Solution ... (2, Interesting)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538713)

A reasonable solution (imho) is by forcing the every sender of any e-mail message to perform some captcha [wikipedia.org] . The captcha can be posed by the receiving party, or any trusted e-mail routing mechanism along the way. If such a captcha would take say 5 seconds to fulfill, then sending a large amount of e-mail messages would become practically impossible (at least it would consume a large amount of the spammer's time!)

Of course, you still need some whitelist mechanism to be able to subscribe to mailing lists, but this poses no real problem.

And then the only necessary thing is for this type of mechanism to become "common practice". Any ideas how to accomplish that?

Only difference you see with hotmail (1)

xutopia (469129) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538729)

Is that they block emails coming from Gmail especially those invititations to use the service.

Gimme a break (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538732)

In logic circles, we call this "arguement by bizzare definition"

To solve is to find a solution. It doesn't have to be the best solution. Technically, jails solve crime.

However, in casual conversation, "solving a problem" means eliminating it, not downgrading it. Why would the author bend over backwords to spin this in Billy's favor?

The old adage is still true... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14538742)

How many microsoft engineers does it take to change a light bulb?

None. Bill Gates just defines dark to be light.

Spam is not 'solved' by filtering (3, Insightful)

lennart78 (515598) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538750)

Spam is often seen by companies as a method to make another profit. They come up with a box or a product that usually should be able to weed out any spam, and YOU, the customer and/or enterprise, should pony up some cash. This is not "solving spam", this is only getting rid of one of the symptoms of spam, leaving the problem relatively untouched. Messagelabs will continue to report that, how much is it these days?, percent of all e-mail traffic is either spam or virus-infected.

The Microsofts (and Ciscos, etc...) of this world probably think that once e-mail spam stops reaching peoples inboxes, the incentive for spammers to spam will vanish, and with it, the problem of spam. WRONG.

Marketing and salesforces all over the world have somehow gotten it into their heads that they have some God-given right to pester and harass consumers anytime, anyplace to beat them over the head with whatever they have around that should make you empty your pockets. And e-mail has been a relatively cheap way for them to harass us. But if that won't last, they will find newer, even more intrusive ways to get into our wallets^H^H^H^H^H^H^H hearts. Texting my mobile phone, calling me with product advertisements, harassing me while I'm shopping for groceries, Inserting picture-in-picture commercials during television, etc, etc, etc... I could go on for hours about how evil everything involving marketing and sales is, but hey, we all know that don't we?

My point is: Spam is not solved by either filtering messages, or making unsollicited commercial e-mail impossible. If Microsoft really wants to enhance the quality of my life, make sure I can for instance enjoy a half hour of television without being constantly interrupted by commercials, and keep those salesdroids away from my favorite supermarket, and away from my phone. Thank you.

By THAT Definition... (1)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538768)

...other companies/projects had spam solved before Gates even uttered those words. Where I work, we've been using the Barracuda Spam Firewall for over two years now and the spam that makes it through is minimal. Once again, MS is late to the show but their marketing dollars will make them come out smelling like a rose nonethelesss.

What happened to the "math equation" solution? (2, Informative)

bbzzdd (769894) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538774)

I thought Gates' solution was to have SMTP senders solve a simple math equation from each mail item they wished to post to a server, thus causing spammers a massive slowdown.

To the best of my knowledge this solution is not in practice and Microsoft is using Bayesian filtering which way predates Bill's promise.

Redefine a good grade (1)

MECC (8478) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538794)

I wish I could have done that for finals in college....

To solve this problem... (1)

bumby (589283) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538802)

...they obviously need more developers developers developers!

Wrong, wrong, wrong (3, Funny)

scottennis (225462) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538816)

Hormel [spam.com] is really the ONLY company that can legitimately do something about the problem of SPAM®

Anyone else seen a MASSIVE increase of GMail spam? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14538835)

In the year and a half I've been using GMail I think I've had maybe two spams get past their filter. In the last month or so my GMail spam box has received almost 1200 emails and I'm getting a dozen messages a day getting past the filter. They come in batches and are, as far as I can tell, completely unrelated in terms of subject and where they are coming from.

Anyone else getting this or is it just me?

Is this even something that microsoft *can* do? (2, Insightful)

the_pooh_experience (596177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538836)

Several others have mentioned that spam will be "solved" once the sending of it has been stopped. I am not sure that Microsoft could ever solve spam in this sense (or any company, for that matter). I don't deny that MS could make great inroads on the problem based purely on their numbers, but when other operating systems, other filters, other mail programs, etc. exist, Microsoft couldn't possibly be responsible for these.

This is not to say they are not responsible for their corner of the world, but the best they can do is fix their SMTP holes, include spam filtering software in all of their software/webware products, and if they are feeling useful, develop a clear and documented solution that could used on other systems/programs.

However asking MS to "solve the problem" is a bit much, even if they did overextend the claim originally.

SPAM solutiion a-la Microsoft (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538845)

There are actually at least two solutions that can fit Gates' view of the world:
1. Create a brand new protocol suite to send and deliver email over the net, with a dozen or so of patents over it.
2. Declare that email is evil and convince governments to make it illegal.
Simple and effective.

Microsoft spams me (4, Interesting)

yamla (136560) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538856)

Not only has Microsoft not stopped other companies sending out spam, they continue to send me spam themselves. I have an open issue with TrustE relating to the Small Business newsletter that Microsoft has been sending me for many months. Every attempt to unsubscribe is met with complete failure. Even complaining to TrustE back in November, and reiterating the complaint two or three more times, has so far only resulted in form letter responses from Microsoft that are completely unhelpful.

In the past, though not for this issue, I have sent unsubscribe requests to Microsoft by registered mail and THOSE were ignored as well.

How can me possibly expect Microsoft to solve the spam problem if they themselves resort to spamming users and refusing unsubscription requests?

got worse in hotmail (3, Interesting)

peter303 (12292) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538862)

If they have "solved spam" they haven't implemented in hotmail yet. I notice the amount spam increasing to be increasing and to be getting through to the "filtered" mail.

I observe this to be cyclic. Hotmail makes an improvement or some spam king gets busted, then it goes done. But it always comes back to above its previous highs once they learn invasion and new spam-asshole fills the void.

Ha! I beat you to it Bill (2, Interesting)

shane2uunet (705294) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538897)

Too late Bill, I "solved" our spam problem over 6 months ago without the help of your "technology."

1. Greylisting
2. SPF
3. Spamassassin

I now receive 90% less spam (including the Junk folder).

Now go get a day job and stop trying to predict the future.

How does MS change a lightbulb? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538900)

Not at all. They make darkness the new standard.

Old joke, I know. But their approach to "solve" the problem of spam reminds me of it. We didn't manage to fulfill the promise made, so we simply change its parameters and thus declare it solved.

The problem of spam cannot be solved by changing its definition, though. The problem of Spam is solved the moment when I only get mail that is sent to ME and not a billion other boxes too.

That's the definition of spam. That's what has to cease. Before this goal is achived, spam is a problem.
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