We Can Do Better

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2004-08-26 Print this article Print

Anyway"> Theres another point thats bothering people, which is the exact scope of their IPR claims. Microsoft has said they have patent claims related to Sender ID, but havent said exactly what they are. Microsoft set up an e-mail address (stdsreq@microsoft.com) to which people could send questions on the matter. I asked them, "Can you tell me what patents Microsoft holds that pertain to an implementation of Sender ID?" and havent heard back. It appears that the claims have to do with the retrieval of the PRA (purported responsible address) from the message. Its just not worth scuttling Sender ID over that.

And it could have turned out well. The merger of SPF and Microsofts Caller ID may have been a bit ugly and scientifically worthy of South Parks Dr. Mephisto, but it would have improved on the current situation a great deal. And it would have been good to show that Microsoft can be cooperative even with their most unrelenting and unreasonable enemies when an important issue is at stake.

In a way its just as well, since the technical luster had come off Sender ID in the last couple of months, such as in the concern addressed here over the clogging up of DNS records. No approach that addressed all the major problems with e-mail fraud would lack some flaws, but even if there was a consensus on Sender ID it was not an overwhelming one. And with the licensing debacle the consensus has swung overwhelmingly against Sender ID and Microsoft in particular.

For insights on security coverage around the Web, check out eWEEK.com Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog. Perhaps Microsoft thought that Sender ID was such a killer standard that they could push people around, but its not. Theyve only boxed themselves out of the process. The rest of the SID standards process will now be a waste of time thanks to Microsoft, and the other participants will afterwards pick up the pieces and get the job done with another spec. Rest assured that enough alternatives were proposed that something can be found that will suffice and that will have none of the license issues.

I feel sorry for the Microsoft participants in the process, principally Harry Katz of the Exchange Edge team, who Im sure only wanted the whole thing to work and were restrained by persons senior to them, probably Microsofts vaunted legal team who did such a good job for them in the past. Of course, we all know what Shakespeare said about lawyers.

Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983. Check out eWEEK.coms Security Center at http://security.eweek.com for security news, views and analysis.
Be sure to add our eWEEK.com security news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page:   More from Larry Seltzer

Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel