The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

If Microsoft head Bill Gates is serious about enacting email protocols that would eradicate spam by 2006, he'll certainly counter some of the ill-will he's built up over his monopolistic business practices.

He conceded, however, that his prognostications have not always been on the mark. Notable misjudgments include the rising popularity of open-source software, epitomized by Linux, and the success of the Google search engine.

As long as they're listing the instances where Gates/Microsoft was behind the curve, they should have mentioned their relatively slow acceptance of the Internet. As late as 1995, Microsoft wasn't convinced that the Web was going to be a big deal; it was only after Netscape's browser and AOL's service hit success in that year that Gates committed significant resources toward online.

As for the ideas on countering spam, I'm not sure about the basic approach: Restricting email communication only to those addresses already in a person's address book. Does that mean you can't just give someone you meet your email address without first adding them to your address book ahead of time? What if a mutual friend/colleague gives your address to someone else? What about information requests, or just public inquiries? Not to mention that viruses get spread by using address book information, so any such email "protection" system that makes messages sent by recognized senders appear "trustworthy" would cause the average person to drop their guard against malicious attachments (typical of Microsoft to think of these things in compartmentalized fashion: "We solved spam, but how could we know it would have increased virus spread tenfold?").