Microsoft IMF Cans Spam at the Server

By David Coursey  |  Posted 2004-06-02 Print this article Print

David Coursey says Microsoft's Intelligent Message Filtering add-on for its Exchange messaging is a real bargain: it's free, and it actually works.

The best thing about Microsofts new Intelligent Message Filtering add-on for Exchange Server isnt that its free—its that it really works. Of course, having the ultimate "nice price" makes choosing IMF almost a no-brainer. I have been using IMF for several days—too early to really make a determination—but the early results have been excellent. If the name doesnt ring a bell, IMF is the server version of the anti-spam technology built into Outlook 2003. An important limitation in Outlook is that the client software only works in "cached" mode, in which all your e-mail is downloaded to the client for filtering takes place.
Having to your download e-mail onto every machine you use seems to defeat the purpose of having an Exchange server, and certainly cripples Outlook Web Access. While Outlook 2003 could filter the incoming mail and provide a mostly spam-free desktop experience, the server itself remained spam city. Thus, OWA, which provides server access via any web browser, got a completely unfiltered view of the users inbox. With IMF, spam is filtered at the server, and OWA shows your filtered inbox—OWA has been rendered useful once again.
IMF was released last week at TechEd in San Diego. It didnt get nearly the attention it should have, which is part of the reason I am writing about it here. Based on my experience with the Outlook 2003 anti-spam technology, I was looking forward to installing the server version on my Exchange machine. Over the weekend—Sunday night to be precise—I downloaded IMF from the Exchange 2003 Web site and installed it on my server. Actually, I first read the IMF Overview, which explains how the filtering works. I then downloaded the Deployment Guide, which explains how to use a single IMF installation for several Exchange mailbox servers in an enterprise environment. Next Page: Ten Minutes to a Cleaner Mailbox

One of technology's most recognized bylines, David Coursey is Special Correspondent for, where he writes a daily Blog ( and twice-weekly column. He is also Editor/Publisher of the Technology Insights newsletter and President of DCC, Inc., a professional services and consulting firm.

Former Executive Editor of ZDNet AnchorDesk, Coursey has also been Executive Producer of a number of industry conferences, including DEMO, Showcase, and Digital Living Room. Coursey's columns have been quoted by both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and he has appeared on ABC News Nightline, CNN, CBS News, and other broadcasts as an expert on computing and the Internet. He has also written for InfoWorld, USA Today, PC World, Computerworld, and a number of other publications. His Web site is

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