It wasn't long ago that competitive entities seemed to be joining together to combat Internet users' common foe, spam. However, despite the fact that big Internet players have this common goal, yesterday it came to light that Time Warner's
Microsoft has been touting its dedication against spam for quite some time, given frequent security problems over the last year. At question now is adoption of Microsoft's SenderID technology. For some companies, there's a degree of alarm that Microsoft has the patent, spurring fears of royalties and licensing tangles. Some fear that Microsoft's product will disrupt interoperability and that other creepy motivations may be afoot.
While AOL said that its decision has nothing to do with Microsoft's patent, the company did cite the reluctance of the open-source community to adopt Microsoft's solution. This is despite the fact that Microsoft insists that it can be had royalty-free; however, it's not too surprising that given Microsoft's size, clout, and historical reputation, many would look askance at Microsoft's involvement and motivations, not least of which would be the champions of open-source initiatives.
Microsoft's SenderID initiative wouldn't eradicate all spam but rather would deal with a dangerous form of spam, where emails are sent to unsuspecting recipients through "spoofed" Web addresses. When related to "phishing," this can be a dangerous kind of forgery -- it can lure people into giving up important account information -- so it's not just an annoyance but a danger to Internet users. It definitely bodes well for Internet-related companies to work hard to eradicate it.
In lieu of SenderID, AOL will use Sender Policy Framework and will test another method created by another company with a vested interest in controlling spam, Yahoo!
Given Microsoft's history, distrust from the open-source community is hardly any surprise. Although taking spam off the table is a shared priority that will have an impact on their bread and butter, perhaps it should come as no surprise that many of the top players will agree to disagree with Microsoft's solution.
Is this a roadblock for Microsoft? Talk to other Fools about this issue on our Microsoft discussion board.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.