Hotmail and MSN Messenger are an important part of my life, both inside and outside of work. I can use them anywhere in the world to chat to the people in my office or, say, a friend in Vancouver.
Web-based mail is a great tool, as is instant messaging, whether it is Microsoft's or anyone else's, but most of the people I know use Hotmail, so full marks to Microsoft for making it an indispensable part of the human experience.
But Hotmail has a problem. Not a security problem for once, but an ever-growing spam problem. And yes, Microsoft has an anti-spam policy and filters and an "exclusion" list option, but this filled up more than a year ago in my own case.
Most of my Hotmail is rubbish or filth or both, and many of you tell me you have the same problem. It's gradually getting worse and more explicit in its content.
I can see that the spammers are using a name generation engine, so if your Hotmail address is Y$%[email protected], then you may not be bothered that much, but if you have a proper name or combination of surname and first name, then you're fair game.
Microsoft, I have a family which includes a little girl, and there is no way on earth that I'm going to let her near her own Hotmail address until you use your considerable ingenuity to tighten up your spam filter and add some kind of parental control mechanism that automatically trashes any incoming mail with the following words
No, I won't include them here, but ask me and I'll give you a list that would make a paratrooper blush. If you use Hotmail, you'll be very familiar with the words I'm talking about.
The others, of course, are "Debt", "Loan", "Vacation", "Mortgage", "Won" "Viagra", "Herbal", "Congratulations" and "Prize". In fact, if we all got together, I'm sure we could come up with a small volume to present to MSN.
A good 25% of the mail I receive each day is spam, but the really unpleasant stuff invariably comes through Hotmail. Here's an ideal opportunity for Microsoft, not to exercise censorship, but demonstrate leadership and common sense before we all suffocate beneath a sinister tide that exploits our identities and threatens our sensibilities.
So Microsoft, are you going to help us resist or simply use the "best efforts" defence? I think you could do a great deal more and win friends by doing it. So will you?
Should Microsoft clean up Hotmail? >> CW360.com reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the Web site. Please state if your answer is not for publication.
Zentelligence: Setting the world to rights with the collected thoughts and ramblings of the futurist writer, broadcaster and Computer Weekly columnist Simon Moores.