Microsoft this weekend revealed that it has limited a feature of its MSN Hotmail service in order to better combat spam, or junk email. Effective immediately, Hotmail subscribers are limited to sending 100 emails each day, which is far more email than most Hotmail users send daily. However, that limit will help Microsoft prevent spammers from using the service to spread junk mail. This tactic follows a similar change last year that prevented Hotmail users from sending email to more than 50 people at a time.
Microsoft says that only 1 percent of its users regularly send 100 or more emails a day, so the change will likely affect a relatively small number of customers. But the change should have an awesome effect on spammers, who regularly use the free service to ferry bulk emails around the Internet. Microsoft has come under fire regularly over the past few years for harbouring such a safe haven for spammers. However, beginning in 2002, Microsoft started fighting back, and its MSN 8 email client was the first product from the company to include sophisticated spam controls. This same technology, developed by Microsoft Research and similar to the Bayesian junk mail filters in products such as Mozilla 1.3 and Apple Mail for OS X, will also be included in Outlook 2003, the company said.
With over 120 million email customers using Hotmail and MSN, Microsoft has a tougher job controlling unwanted email than most companies, especially when one considers that the delivery of spam has risen over 500 percent since late 2001. Other large email providers, such as AOL and Yahoo are also working to decrease the amount of spam delivered through their networks, and AOL included spam controls in its latest client, AOL 8.