Redmond (WA) - Microsoft is trying to make the brutal and never-ending battle against spam a little easier by opening up its Sender ID specification. The specification will now fall under the company's Open Specification Promise which is an "irrevocable promise" to offer the technology for free. Microsoft has been touting Sender ID as an upcoming global standard, but some in the open-source community have rallied against the specification because of its previously proprietary nature.
SPAM emails are typically sent with "spoofed" headers - forged information tricks the receiver into thinking the email came from a reputable website like ebay.com or a major bank. With Sender ID, ISPs and email servers enter a list of good email senders into their "Sender of Policy Framework" list, which is essentially a white list of good senders. Sender ID then tries to block spoofed emails by having servers check against the SPF.
Sender ID has faced tough criticism from many standards bodies and even AOL. In September, the IETF stopped any further work into making Sender ID a global standard after members complained about the proprietary nature of the technology. They argued that Microsoft could charge royalties or shut off developers because of some wording in the Sender ID patent. AOL initially supported Sender ID, but pulled its support until the patent terms could be clarified.
Microsoft's Open Specification Promise is an open source-like framework which lets third-parties use technology freely and without license. In addition, Microsoft promises to never sue any company that uses anything under OSP. Last week, the company released its Virtual Hard Disk specification, a file format used in virtual operating systems, under the OSP.