Throwback: Bill Gates 2004: "Spam will be soon a thing of the past"

"Spam will soon be a thing of the past," said Bill Gates way back in 2004 for the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos. On those days, Windows XP was the king of the desktop. Microsoft was still marketing Outlook Express 6.0 and Windows Vista was still under development under the code name Longhorn. Seems like the founder of Microsoft was very enthusiastic that his company has the silver bullet to finally nail the final coffin against everyone's enemy - spam.

Anti spam Measures for Outlook Express

Fast forward today, we are in the second half of 2018, and Spam emails are still here. It even became more vicious in the age of modern anti spam measures being implemented by many companies. Unsolicited emails are sent to maximize possible earnings for spammers, it became a full-blown black-market operation. They are designed to scam people of their hard earned money while bypassing anti spam measures.

It is very difficult for anyone to predict the future. This is especially true in the world where both the good guys and the bad guys are motivated in conducting research and development to achieve their goals. The tech world of 2004 was ancient, 3 years after the release of the Windows XP operating system, the "most secure OS released" by Microsoft. As Bill Gates boasted the company's imminent victory against Spam, his engineers were very hard at work to patch a lot of security vulnerabilities in Windows XP. The end result was Windows XP Service Pack 2, which pushed the Longhorn target release date to 2006.

Bill Gates statements in WEF 2004 were basically marketing hype to boost Microsoft's desire to maintain its relevance in the computing world. Google was already very influential in the year 2004, but he still followed the company line. Bill's own futurist self, announced to the world that Microsoft will be a much more relevant in the Search business than its competitors such as Google. Microsoft was still recommending the use of Outlook Express, for those that cannot afford to buy Microsoft Office, which contains the much better email client, Microsoft Outlook.

Outlook Express was first released as part of the Internet Explorer 3.0 web browser package in 1996. It was developed to compete against Netscape Communicator's email client of the first browser wars of the 90's. Anti spam measures were not implemented in the first version of Outlook Express, this remains the same as with the version 2.0 before 1996 ended. Windows 98, with its bundled Internet Explorer 4.0 enabled Outlook Express to finally win the email client competition against Netscape. Being part of Windows itself, the browser and email package from Microsoft became a de-facto standard, which caused Microsoft to face the wrath of the Department of Justice in an Antitrust case.

A basic anti spam measures were implemented only under Outlook Express 5.0, that came bundled with Internet Explorer 5.0. The basic anti spam measures made Outlook Express usable in an enterprise environment, as it became an integral part of Windows 98 Second Edition and Windows 2000, the two popular desktop OS in the enterprise in the early 2000's.

Windows XP enabled a modern interface for Outlook Express accompanied with reliable anti spam measures. With version 6.0 of the Microsoft email client, Outlook Express becomes a regularly updated component, new anti spam measures were constantly updated. Automatic updates of Windows XP every second Tuesday of the month, AKA Patch Tuesday are very helpful for users and sysadmins. The regular maintenance schedule was behind Outlook Express success in the office environment and the consumer space. Outlook Express received fixes at regular intervals keeping the users confident with their security, as the program implements anti spam measures transparent to the users.

The regular auto updates for Outlook Express created a safer environment to use it as an email client. New and revised anti spam measures are included with Outlook Express updates, however, the challenge is much harder than Microsoft anticipated it. Outlook Express is full of security vulnerabilities, due to its aging code base and the platform was no longer viable for further development. Just updating the Outlook Express email engine and better anti spam measures embedded with the program no longer suffice. Microsoft took a better approach by rebranding hotmail.com to outlook.com, and take the name of Outlook as its email service paired with the Microsoft Mail program starting with Windows Vista in 2006.

Data Chart

The bottom line of Outlook Express history is the need for an external application or a hosted service to secure the functionality of the email clients. A hosted anti spam service outsources the anti spam measures in the remote server .In the days when a non-HTML email client is unacceptable, the security and privacy of the email users are delegated not to the email clients, but to a 3rd party. This is where anti spam measures are externally enforced, through the use of a hosted anti spam service.

One such compatible hosted service that blocks spam and uses efficient measures is Comodo Anti Spam Gateway. From a world-renowned name in IT security , Comodo Anti Spam Gateway enables the use of real-time anti spam measures which are effective in blocking spam email before it reaches the users.

It comes with Valkyrie-Technology, a proprietary cloud-based engine database that connects the mail server to the Comodo Cloud in order to implement updated anti spam measures. Comodo has a standard list of known spammers in its anti spam measures database. This is supplemented by its real-time heuristics scanning of the emails, enabling detection of unknown threats.

The first two anti spam measures are to immunize and harden the email server, as it runs a background process monitoring the email exchange to and from the Internet. These days spammers have all the tools at their disposal to bypass anti spam measures, but Comodo offers comprehensive database, a much-needed remedy against spam in the enterprise, regardless if they are large or a start-up.Try Comodo Anti Spam Gateway today!

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