In separate moves, Microsoft and AOL are taking aim at spam. Microsoft announced on Tuesday that new antispam technology will ship in Exchange Server 2003. Meanwhile, AOL filed five separate lawsuits against alleged spammers that the company says have blanketed AOL users with messages promoting everything from mortgages to pornography.
The moves parallel junk e-mails emergence as the scourge of computer users. Jupiter Research analysts estimate that the average e-mail inbox receives 42 spam messages a day—a number thats expected to increase by more than two-thirds to 70 by 2007. Analysts at research firm Gartner have predicted that more than 50 percent of e-mail messages will be spam by 2004.
"Microsofts philosophy is to stop viruses and spam at the network perimeter," said Kevin McCuistion, director of Exchange marketing and business development at Microsoft, in a statement. The company also announced that the virus-scanning API (VSAPI 2.5) in Exchange Server 2003 will allow developers to add in complementary solutions for fighting viruses.
The new antispam tool in Exchange Server 2003 will allow companies to scan arriving e-mail messages and tag each with a numeric score called a Spam Confidence Level (SCL). An administrator can set rules that either route suspected spam to a junk-mail folder or a recipients inbox.
AOLs string of federal lawsuits marks one of the biggest legal actions to date against alleged spammers. Users of the companys service have had access to a "Report Spam" feature that AOL says has now collected over 8 million citations, providing a large database listing the origination points of spam messages.
The Microsoft and AOL moves come on the heels of the reintroduced CAN SPAM bill from Senators Conrad Burns (R–MT), and Ron Wyden (D–OR). Last year, despite support from the Senate Commerce Committee, the bill never reached the Senate floor. The act, which calls for all unsolicited marketing e-mail to contain valid return addresses, has the support of many high-tech organizations, including AOL and Yahoo!