Hotmail Gets Anti-Spam Makeover

Microsoft has quietly rolled out a major Hotmail interface makeover to mirror the Web access features of the new Office 2003 software suite.

Users of the free Web-mail service were greeted late Monday with a streamlined interface resembling Office 2003 and the MSN e-mail client built into the company’s ISP service.

The Hotmail overhaul also includes Microsoft’s new ‘SmartScreen’ anti-spam technology. Developed internally at Microsoft Research, ‘SmartScreen’ identifies the frequency of words and the types of links used by spammers.

During a recent presentation, Microsoft boss Bill Gates said ‘SmartScreen’ was making a dramatic difference in the battle against spam.

“Between what we’re doing with technology and what’s being done on the legal front, it makes the business proposition for spammers no longer attractive,” Gates said at the time. “And we’ve got to keep working until we achieve that. And I believe very strongly, that’s an achievable goal.”

Hotmail’s Junk Mail filter has been tweaked to let users report spam back to Microsoft to let the service automatically filter out that senders at the gateway level.

The new filter means only mail from known senders and addresses within a user’s contact list are displayed on the default mail page. Hotmail users, however, still have the option to view all mail via a drop-down tab.

The e-mail management icons have also been redesigned to display the ‘urgent’ label on e-mails sent and received. A paperclip icon now signifies attachments and a question mark icon identifies mail from unknown senders.

Hotmail has also been tweaked to allow users to import contact lists from Outlook 2000/XP/2003 and Outlook Express 6 and to let users share vCards with contact information.

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