Help is at hand for the millions of Hotmail users plagued by spam after Microsoft finally agreed to act against unsolicited email.
The software giant has signed a deal with anti-spam firm Brightmail that will see the Brightmail Solution Suite implemented at the incoming SMTP gateway of Hotmail users.
Hotmail's global user base currently stands at 110 million. Every day, most receive emails offering everything from '1 minute refinancing here' to 'Men only grow 3-4 inches'.
Apparently 'Women agree size does matter', and Hotmail users can probably sympathise. For those with the standard 2MB account the inbox quickly fills up with unwanted junk mail and begins to bounce back messages from more legitimate sources.
Hotmail users accessing the service via dial-up accounts were particularly angered by the wasted time and money spent ploughing through a cluttered inbox deleting spam and trying to spot the unsolicited mail from the genuine correspondences. Ironically, this deal may actually have provided them with a genuine opportunity to 'cut expensive phone bills in half'.
Last month, Eric Allman, chief technology officer of Sendmail, told silicon.com that spam threatens the very existence of email. "There is a genuine concern that too much spam will kill off email. We haven't quite got there yet, but it could happen," he said.
Recent estimates suggest as much as 15 per cent of all email traffic is unsolicited spam, and it's growing fast. By the end of the year, if allowed to continue unchecked it is estimated that spam could account for more than 50 per cent of all email.
Enrique Salem, president and chief executive of Brightmail, described the Microsoft deal as a major step in "shielding the millions of Hotmail users from the ever-growing flood of spam, which threatens the viability of email as a universal communication tool".