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Microsoft

Microsoft Backing Off Spamming 102

David G wrote in to say that Microsoft plans to revise the spamming "Feature" that we mentioned yesterday on Slashdot after all the criticism. My favorite quote from this article is "We got a rude awakening today and we thought ... 'Let's make this clearer for the consumers'"
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Microsoft Backing Off Spamming

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  • It would be interesting if someone would take everyone that spammed them, and sue them in small claims court for the portion of their time and bandwidth it took to deal with their message. Or for an ISP to sue them for the storage and bandwidth it took to deliver to all their customers (and the time it took for their support people to deal with complaints)
  • Send in an Ask Slashdot and you just might get it. Good luck!

  • Bill is a nerd. He always has been a nerd. Otherwise, he would've taken some minor portion of his profits, bought some overgrown central-american country, and relaxed while Steve and the seven dwarves worked the money machine for him.

    Instead, he's still MS's "Chief Software Architect", whatever the hell that might be. It certainly doesn't involve actually looking at the code (35 to 60 million lines in W2k) or at the effects of MS's policies.

    Maybe ol' Curtis "Launch on Warning" LeMay did have something going. After all, he never did launch...
  • In IE5, clicking the Search button brings up a side panel where you can type in your entry. Notice, though, that below the entry field, it says "Brought to you by MSN Search." The first choice is ALWAYS MSN. Surprisingly, it DOES log the Slashdot pages; I did a search for "CmdrTaco" and it turned up a buttload of /. pages. Good to know that MS isn't too biased.
  • Yeah, damn them for trying to get free advertising on my dime.... capitalist dogs indeed.
  • I'm just glad they don't make tires...


    --
    Chief Frog Inspector
  • They still didn't address the concern mentioned yesterday that users can't view or edit the message before sending it out. I think a feature that sends a message FROM you without allowing you to look at it first is evil no matter what the message says.
  • That was Douglas Adams. They had him come in to help with an annotation system in word. I believe there is an article about that on his web site.

    Matt
  • My favorite quote from this article is "We got a rude awakening today and we thought...'Let's make this clearer for the consumers' "

    Okay! How many of you put Microsoft employees in your contact list?

    - Steeltoe
  • since it costs nothing it is sent in huge quantities and sometimes multiple times
    Kinda like all those mass mailing I get time and time again, or the multiple telemarketer calls I get every day?

    They found a source of postage, paper, and phone service that costs nothing? Cool! Where do I sign up?


    Yes, it's in the aisle right next to the free computer, phone line, and internet connection that the spammers use.


    If you want to argue that the receiver pays for it, at least there is something to that (although at least in the US, the practice of paying for bandwidth usage is almost completely dead).

    In that case, all you folks who are paying bills for a Net connection ought to find out who is really getting the money -- it's obviously isn't the ISP, since "the practice of paying for bandwidth usage is almost completely dead" -- and put a stop to it.

    (The expected rejoinder "I meant that people don't typically pay 'per-minute'" is beside the point. When you get spam, the spammer has stolen some of your ISPs bandwidth, and the ISP will pass the cost of that along to you one way or another.)


    No, ISPs generally pay for a pipe the same way a user does. A T3 is a T3, no matter what is going through it. They don't pay per byte, or per minute, they pay for a pipe, and anything that pipe can hold is fair game. As for them "stealing" the ISPs bandwidth, the telemarketers "steal" phone bandwidth from the telephone company and the mail ads "steal" bandwidth from the post office, both of which they end up charging back to me.


    Some people advertise responsibly via email

    Yes; the ones who operate strictly opt-in mailing lists. I haven't seen anybody here complaining about those (and, in fact, they are themselves victims of spammer scum because they have to carefully distinguish their legitimate e-mail advertisements from the spam).


    Just like some people use advertising in the real world irresponsibly, and other don't. I get ads from some companies 3 or 4 times a week. Does that mean all ads are bad? No, spam can be used or abused just like any other form of advertising.

  • You can change the default search in IE5 to Google. Instructions are on this page http://www.google.com/defaults.html [google.com]
  • Whether it was done under good, "helpful" intentions (shyeah, right) is irrelevant. Good intentions aren't worth jack when the resulting actions are all f*cked up.
  • I'd rather say that it was the /. + ZD-Net + C-Net + MS Beta testers effect. And let's not forget the recipients of those "informative" e-mails who complained to abuse@hotmail.com or whatever, just the way you do when you receive normal spam.

    All these crowds combined helped in giving MS a "rude awakening". Cool ! ... but I wonder how these reactions can be so surprising to that "Microsoft representative". Come on, they were really expecting people to actually like that "feature" ? Are they stupid ? And how stupid do they think their customers are ?

    And they're only planning to change the language. I wonder if it's really going to make a difference.
    Hint for MS people out there : adding a "this is no spam" disclaimer would NOT be enough ...
  • Of course, it should allow you to customize the 'spam text', but that thought probably never crossed what passes for the collective brain cell over at Microsoft...

    NecroPuppy
    ---
    Godot called. He said he'd be late.
  • Go to Google and poke around a little bit. They have a .reg file that will change the default search bar to Google. Much better IMHO. z
  • Umm...chill...

    Note the fact that the post you replied to is sitting at (Score:4 Funny). It was a joke.

    Joke.

    I don't think anyone here really thinks that /. made the difference. If they do, I've a bridge to sell them :-)

    Breathe deep...
  • Read the FAQ [abuse.net] before you make uninformed postings.



    About 2 years ago, I heard anecdotical reference that 50% of the incoming mail load at AOL is spam, being filtered before it reaches the recipient. I used to think that was unrealistic. Of course, I cannot proof it, but now, being a postmaster of a small public server, I don't think it's unrealistic, anymore.

    Think about it: E-Mail spam will rise. It will become much much much worse than it is now. Email spam is just too cheap and too easy to do. Anyone with a sub-500$ PC and a modem can do it. No printing of bulk paper mailings, no call center agents to hire for telemarketing, no expensive address lists (just harvest Usenet or discussion sites like Slashdot).

    This is only the beginning of a networked age. Once every business man in the world has the power to send spam to millions of unwilling recipients, just imagine how it will be like to "just hit delete" on 90% of your daily incoming email.

    But then again, you're probably American, where Telemarketing has become one of the accepted abuses of your private phone. (I'm glad that Telemarketing is not allowed over here in Germany.)

    Imagine more than dozens of telemarketing calls per day, every day, every week, every year, with steady increase, more and more every month.

    That's the right comparison for the email spam - not those junk mail paper ads you receive in your paper mail.

    That's why spam has to be stopped.

    ------------------

  • This just occurred to me: if unsolicited advertising which costs me money is against the law, and I pay per unit of volume for my municipal trash can, couldn't I argue that bulk mail was costing me money for a larger-than-otherwise-necessary trash can, and therefore was illegally sent?

    On another note, I have recently hit upon a response to telemarketers that works perfectly every time: pretend you can't hear them. It's very simple, but 100% effective:

    "Hello?".
    (click) "Hello, Mr. Pigeon?".
    "Hello? Hello?"
    "Hello, Mr. Pigeon, I'm with..."
    "Hello? Hello?"
    "uh, hello, Mr. Pigeon I'm..."
    "Hello? Hello...Damn phone!"
    "uh..."

    The best part is, they have to assume you can't hear them, so nothing they say or do will make it better. Hearing the confusion in their voices as they come to grips with the situation is one of my favorite things.
  • From: MSFin@microsoft.com
    To: benedict@
    Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2000 18:13:59 -0700
    Subject: A FINFLASH FROM THE FREEDOM TO INNOVATE NETWORK
    Reply-To: MSFin@microsoft.com
    X-Mailer: MT Mail ver. 1.22.2

    [-- Attachment #1 --]
    [-- Type: text/plain, Encoding: quoted-printable, Size: 3.5K --]

    A FINFLASH FROM THE FREEDOM TO INNOVATE NETWORK!
    September 26, 2000

    To cancel your subscription to this newsletter or stop all newsletters from microsoft.com, read the directions at the bottom of this message.

    [...]

    --
  • The single biggest problem at Microsoft as a corporation is this: nobody has yelled at Bill Gates in 20 years.

    Do you have any facts/anecdotes to back this up? I've read (in Microsoft Secrets) and heard from people at MS that he expects people to literally yell back at him. He calls it "high bandwidth communication".

    I seriously doubt that people like Steve Ballmer would have a hard time telling Gates that he is wrong. Similarly, I doubt this spam feature was even known to the top MS brass.

    Coppit

    P.S. Anyone else think that Ballmer would make a good olympic wrestler? ;)
    ---------------------------------------------- ---------

  • by Ralph Bearpark ( 2819 ) on Thursday September 28, 2000 @04:34AM (#748143) Homepage
    Notice the "Email to a friend" link at the end of that CNET story? Wouldn't it be great idea if you could email the story to everyone in your contacts list, huh? They could even add a bit at the end about what a great news source CNET is too.

    (Hey, this is such a great idea someone should patent it!)

    Regards, Ralph.
  • From the article:
    "The Redmond, Wash.-based software company said the address notification feature was only created as a helpful tool for consumers."

    If this is truly the only reason for this "feature", then MS should consider why there is such a vocal uproar over it. Perhaps consumers do not want this kind of help from them? If they insist on foisting it on us, despite the protests, then they are only demonstrating their total lack of credibility.

  • Maybe this had something to do with the slashdot discussion or maybe (just maybe) it had something to do with the frontpage articles ZDNet and C|Net decided to run.
  • This is right, and this is healthy. There are already many traditional advertising channels which we take for granted now, although you can bet they weren't too popular at first.
    I might be the only one thinking this way around here, but I do not consider mass advertising being healthy. Quite contrary -- I think it is very bad practice, and I believe it'll be forbidden if the future. Illegal as mass coercion.
    This practice was needed. In before-internet times it was the only way to connect business with big number of customers. It was bad from health point of view. But it was necessary.
    Now might be the right time to fight back this pest.
  • From the article:
    "The Redmond, Wash.-based software company said the address notification feature was only created as a helpful tool for consumers."

    From the README:
    Installation instructions for the address notification feature:
    1. Bend over
    2. Grab ankles
    3. Shout "Thank you, Bill!"

  • Hidden spambot feature in MSN Explorer [slashdot.org] and Tracking Bookmarks [slashdot.org]

    IMHO this is the glorious new world M$ has promised us. You know, the one where they think for you, because you're certainly going to love whatever clever thing they come up with next. They just seem to have this awful habit of not telling us up front about these "features", which is the most disturbing part, but hardly new. When forced to use M$ products, I usually spend about an hour trying to turn off all the "neat" automatic features. I just wish I had a setting which would disable all the second guessing "Are you sure you want to delete that?", "Save your work before exiting?" and so on.


    --
    Chief Frog Inspector
  • Maybe someone pointed out to Microsoft that their home state, Washington, has made unsolicited business-related e-mail illegal and will fine the spammer on a per message basis. I can't remember whether it was $100 or $500 per message...

    They took out the MSN plug because it made the spam "business related".
  • Sure spam can be considered another form of advertising, but the difference is that there are no ethics in this form. There are various examples of lack of ethics in spam:

    - since it costs nothing it is sent in huge quantities and sometimes multiple times


    Kinda like all those mass mailing I get time and time again, or the multiple telemarketer calls I get every day?

    - spammers are in the majority anonymous because they realise that this form of advertising is unpopular

    Kinda like the telemarketer calls from "unknown name, unknown number", or the mail ads I receive that don't have a return address?

    - they will not respect your right to be removed from their mailing list even when asked

    Kinda like all the mail ads I receive where I can't get off their list? Ever try to get of a junk mail list? Who do you contact? Where do you contact them? And if you do manage to contact them, they don't ever take you of the list. Hell, most places don't even have a real list, they just send it to "Resident" at every address known to man.

    - it is not even marked as an advert to ease filtering

    Kind of like the telemarketers who start off asking me how my day was and then 2 minutes later start their sales? Or the ads I get i the mail without anything on the outside of the envelope marking it as an ad?


    These arguements don't make spam any different that any other form of advertising. If you want to argue that the receiver pays for it, at least there is something to that (although at least in the US, the practice of paying for bandwidth usage is almost completely dead). Some people advertise responsibly via email, and others don't, you can't condemn them all because some people refuse to follow the rules.

  • by AFCArchvile ( 221494 ) on Thursday September 28, 2000 @05:48AM (#748151)
    ...by replacing it with a RED screen of death. This would be similar to Microsoft replacing the "General Protection Fault" in Windows 3.1 with the "Fatal Exception Error" in Windows 95.

    My favorite BSOD is a strange one in Windows 2000 during startup: "PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA". How is that possible? If a memory space is not paged yet, then how can it have a page fault? Shouldn't it then be a "non-page fault"?

  • I don't think this is a troll, so I'll bite too:

    Please do not assume people's politics. SlashDot has a diverse membership. There may even be some Republicrats or Demoblicans here :)

    Agreed "spam" is a loaded, derogatory word that has devolved from it's original meaning of "multiple excessive USENET postings" into "unsolicited commercial email". But the fact that it can be used to further commerce does not make it any less repugnant.

    The difference between spam and advertising is that when I expose myself to advertising, I do so willingly because I receive some side benefit. Ads pay for free TV. Ads reduce the cost of newpapers and magazines by about half. Even the junk snail mail reduces my mailing costs.

    But spam does absolutely nothing for me. It's like a telephone solicitors. They receive something valuable from me -- my time and attention -- but give me NOTHING at all in return unless I find their information useful.

    In this sense, spam is akin to theft or assault.

  • Libertarian? Me? Uh, no. Please stop making such unfounded assumptions, based on the fact that I post on Slashdot.

    Prove to me that spam does anything beyond annoying the recipient. I have informed several otherwise "legitimate" companies that that their incessant unsolicited e-mails have caused me to boycott their products, and to encourage everyone that I meet to do so as well.

    Demographic profiling? Please-- I receive at least five "spam" e-mails per day, detailing how I can "now accept credit cards". I don't run a business. I have never ran a business. If I did, I certainly wouldn't be dealing with an organization that relied upon a fly-by-night mass-emailing company to advertise themselves.

    Define "new", as in "spam is simply a derogatory term for a new form of advertising". I've been running into spam for a number of years now, and especially when one thinks in terms of "internet time", spam is by no means new.

    If spammers of all sorts were seriously interested in legitimizing their "business", all advertising or soliciting messages would be preceded by an "ADV:" marker. Likewise, all spam would have a functional opt-out link embedded somewhere within the message. Your claims of "demographic profiling" are laughable-- the vast majority of mass e-mailers utilize hacked and/or harvested e-mail addresses. When I receive a message that is sent to j*@home.com, I'd say that it's abundantly clear that the sender has no interest in my demographic profile.

    Granted, there are similarities to accepted unsolicited mass-contact schemes, such as "junk" mail and telemarketing-- both of which are generally reviled, I might add. The difference in this case, is that junk e-mail takes up precious space on mail-servers; unlike the post office or the phone company, ISPs are not being paid for this abuse of their services and hardware.

    You want people to accept spam? Legitimize it first-- make the spammers accountable.

    In passing, please be careful with your gross over-generalizations. I do not operate within your "capitalist economy", nor do others who post on or read Slashdot. Complaining about spam does not make me a hypocrite.

  • It's like a telephone solicitors.

    More precisely, it's like a telephone solicitor who reverses the charges for his call.

  • No, spam can be used or abused just like any other form of advertising.

    Nope; spam is inherently abusive. Legitimate (i.e. purely opt-in) e-mail is either legitimate or abusive depending on how it is administered (for instance, dumping a bunch of messages unrelated to the advertised purpose of the mailing list is abusive).
    /.

  • by Phred T. Magnificent ( 213734 ) on Thursday September 28, 2000 @06:05AM (#748156)

    Much as I hate to even appear to defend Microsoft, I can see how this whole fiasco likely came about. The scenario goes something like this:

    Product Designer thinks up "change of address notification" as a useful feature. It gets included as a requirement, and built into the product. But, as with so many features in commercial software products, Corporate Policy demands that Marketing write the actual text of the message. (Marketing writes the actual text of most messages in commercial software.) Marketing, of course, can't possibly resist turning any message into an advertisement, so what Designer intended as a useful change of address notification gets subverted for Spam.

    This same kind of thing happens in commercial software the world over, and will continue for as long as Product Development has to answer to Marketing. Which is to say, as long as there is commerical software.

    One more reason to use the Free stuff, I suppose... As if we needed another reason.


    Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
  • As for them "stealing" the ISPs bandwidth, the telemarketers "steal" phone bandwidth from the telephone company and the mail ads "steal" bandwidth from the post office, both of which they end up charging back to me

    Actually, telemarketers PAY phone bills for the "bandwidth" they use, and mail marketting companies PAY the post office for the bulk mail they send out. HOWEVER, spammers rarely pay ANYONE for the bandwidth they steal...and even if my ISP doesn't pay per byte, the thousands of emails they send through the pipe slows down MY service, loads their servers and costs ME and the ISP time and money through delays, maintenance, whatnot.

    I get ads from some companies 3 or 4 times a week. Does that mean all ads are bad? No, spam can be used or abused just like any other form of advertising.

    I don't know about you, but to me, responsible advertising means that its paid for (not stolen from the customers you are trying to attract) and ASKED for, not pushed on the customers you are trying to attract. Basically, if I see a commercial on TV, that company paid for that spot and that money underwrites the show I am watching, if I get an advertisment in the mail, it didn't cost ME anything but the time it took to throw it away because that company PAID the post office to mail it to me, email advertisement that I REQUESTED is something that I ASKED FOR and is of interest TO ME...spam email on the other hand, I didn't ask for, wasn't paid for and is USUALLY (lamely) disguised as something else to make it harder to filter out and the fact that I got it means that my bandwidth is busier and less responsive than it could have been without it

  • He never has cared and he never will. He's always been rich, having $1,000,000 trust fund, and now he is just astronomical. It's never enough, it seems. To learn how Billy G. got where he is go visit this great site [greenspun.com].

    The man knows how he got there, and what keeps him there. So do the people who work for him. Don't expect any changes.

  • They found a source of postage, paper, and phone service that costs nothing? Cool! Where do I sign up?


    Yes, it's in the aisle right next to the free computer, phone line, and internet connection that the spammers use.

    Each unit of paper or telephone advertising delivered to the prospective consumer costs the advertiser something. Not so with e-mail. Even if the spammer is paying for metered uploads or connection time, adding recipients has a nearly negligible effect, since the body of the spam only has to be sent once.
    No, ISPs generally pay for a pipe the same way a user does. A T3 is a T3, no matter what is going through it. They don't pay per byte, or per minute, they pay for a pipe, and anything that pipe can hold is fair game.
    This one tripped my BS meter. As far as I know, most ISPs charge their large-pipe customers for transfers over a certain amount. The same may apply to the ISPs themselves. Are you yourself an ISP with multiple backbone providers? Are you a backbone provider? Have you ever gotten a high-speed pipe for your home or business? Do you know anything about what you're talking about?

    Not to mention the fact that an ISP has to pay for a fat enough pipe to bring over all the spam in addition to the regular traffic.
    As for them "stealing" the ISPs bandwidth, the telemarketers "steal" phone bandwidth from the telephone company and the mail ads "steal" bandwidth from the post office, both of which they end up charging back to me.

    The telemarketers pay the phone company for the phone bandwidth. The direct marketers pay bulk rate postage for every piece mailed. It is in fact the high volume of bulk mail and the massive amounts spent on it by direct marketers that keeps the price of a first-class stamp low in the US.

    Just out of curiousity, what's it like being so incredibly stupid?
  • It's not a "poor excuse", it's what happened. Do you think Bill Gates personally ordered this fiasco to happen?

    Unless you're some mind-controlling supermutant a la "The Mule" from the Foundation books, you can not take personal responsibility for the actions of 30,000 people under you. What you can do is eliminate the shitheads to make sure it doesn't happen again.

    MSN's responsibility is to find the people that did put this plan into motion and give them the boot. They should also apologize to their users. Trying to pin the fault for this on Bill Gates directly is just another example of ridiculous Slashdot hyperbole. Amazing how this crap always gets moderated up.

  • NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise! ... Surprise and fear ... fear and surprise. ... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency. ... Our three weapons are fear, and surprise, and ruthless efficiency ...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope. ... Our four ... no ... Amongst our weapons. ... Hmf ... Amongst our weaponry ... are such elements as fear, surpr.... I'll come in again.

    More here [pythonet.org].

    Regards, Ralph.

  • Regardless of who was actually responsible for creating the "feature", the fact remains that it is a Microsoft product, and Bill Gates is the Chairman of Microsoft. Therefore, the ultimate responsibility resides with him. I too doubt that he actually knew of the feature himself, and I doubt that he would have given a damn about it even if he did know. It doesn't really matter though. If he had any real convictions about such things, then his managers would know it and this wouldn't have happened. Apparently there wasn't much review done, or the feature was intentionally allowed to remain. The only reason anything is being done now is because it pissed off a lot of people. The potential damage outweighs the potential gains. Therefore it is more profitable to change the feature. It's also better to bullshit people about why it was changed to make it look like it was unintentional in the first place so that the average moron using the software will bear no ill will towards Chairman Bill.

  • I just thought of something, I don't know if this has been seen so if anyone saw something like what I will describe please tell me. I'm curious.
    Imagine a cross breed between spam and the now infamous VBScript "virus" like the famed 'I Love you" virus. Each advertisement the user receive also has a small attachment with it. If the user opens the attachment (lets be realistic here... lots of clueless users would do it) it resends the spammed message (or even messages??) to everyone in his adress book...

    Anyone heard of something like that??


    "When I was a little kid my mother told me not to stare into the sun...
  • NONPAGED_AREA means pages allocated from the non-paged pool, that is, memory that may not be swapped to disk. Read it as 'nonpagable' instead, if you want. If you reference memory in such an adress range, and there is no page allocated, you get that BSOD...
  • Even if you could hold Bill Gates' nose to a CRT and show him the grim reality, he would be proud of it. His goals are different from yours. He would see a unified environment where all MS products work well together as long as they're not exposed to the internet. NT4 and Office97 are a complete solution to small office problems. If you don't do anything "unusual" they work well, and Bill would be (and should be) proud of it.

    The problems we see with Microsoft are not problems in Bill's eyes. He would just shrug and say "so what". If you showed him blue screens, he'd say "Are those MS approved drivers and hardware and software on that machine?" If you showed him the 65000 bugs people like to talk about, he would say this is not unreasonable for a product of this size and scope, and that patches are forthcoming, etc etc.

    My sister's husband retired from Microsoft last year, and he loves NT. He wrote a big chunk of DirectX, so he knows exactly how gnarly the code is, and he still likes it. He used Unix in college and he prefers NT.

    Folks, the world is not as black and white as we want it to be.
  • by lalas ( 85981 ) on Thursday September 28, 2000 @03:50AM (#748166)
    bitchin' and moaning on /. does make a difference!! ;)
  • Whether changing the language alone will quell critics remains to be seen
    but they can allways try...
  • Did the slashdot article really have that much effect on Microsoft? I thought that their take on it would be rather the opposite: anything that ticked off the /. crowd *must* be good for business ;-)
  • How many times does Microsoft have to get caught with their pants down before they decide to purchase a belt?

    At least they're starting to pay attention to public opinion! Maybe they'll lighten up on the NTFS/Linux legal proceedings if we all send a letter of disgust to the boyz in Redmond.

  • by macpeep ( 36699 ) on Thursday September 28, 2000 @03:51AM (#748170)
    Wow.. Glad to see feedback actually helps. I've seen more of that lately really and it makes me happy.

    Mozilla dropped the old renderer in favor of Raport (later NGLayout, later Gecko) and XPFE. Then they dropped Modern in favor of "Modern/2".. Then they made Classic the default skin.. All of these were based on public feedback and discussions.

    I remember reading somewhere that Microsoft have had book authors come in and spend time with "next generation" versions of MS Word to give feedback about new features. That's absolutely excellent - I wish more companies would do stuff like that - and why not open source projects too.

    Maybe there's some hope after all.
  • They were worried someone would write a virus to introduce all the valid microsoft.com emails into all the outlook addressbooks before their auto-spam took place.
  • ...when I hear Microsoft say they're going to "make things clearer for the consumers." Good thing they got rid of that "feature", though.
  • Wow.. Glad to see feedback actually helps
    Yeah, but they keep acting like they got their hand caught in the cookie jar.

    Public: Hey, you snuck a feature in here that spams all my friends!
    M$: Oh, dear, how did that get there. Tsk Tsk. Well, we'll just fix that in a jiffy.


    --
    Chief Frog Inspector
  • So make it app modal to explorer, and full screen it. Same difference. Or inject it into every process so that EVERY running app does it.
  • It's great that Microsoft is responding to consumer demand and criticism on this front. I just think it's odd (perhaps only a coincidence) that a company like MS ups it's consumer friendliness when it's having troubles with revenue and recent lows in its stock value.
  • by Veteran ( 203989 ) on Thursday September 28, 2000 @04:58AM (#748176)
    The single biggest problem at Microsoft as a corporation is this: nobody has yelled at Bill Gates in 20 years.

    When you get in a position of power and success you lose contact with reality; the main part of what you are doing is working so well that you begin to believe that you have uncovered the 'secret to life' ( (C) Microsoft Inc. 1980 - 2000), and that therefore, everything you are doing is right. What is so dangerous for Gates is that he literally has billions of reasons to think he has everything figured out.

    This is a common problem for successful people. Ego's spring from misunderstanding; if you are successful at something and you don't understand the reasons that you are successful, you are primed for developing an inflated ego. Your brain starts trying to understand why you are successful, and the only thing it can come up with is "Well, I must be hot shit!" Once the brain arrives at that conclusion it begins to act to protect that theory, and Ego problems ensue.

    The only person I have ever heard of who had a good solution for success induced fat headedness was General Curtis LeMay - the creator of the Strategic Air Command in the United States. LeMay was a judo player, and he had strict orders for his training partner, an air force sergeant, to pound the General on the judo mat anytime LeMay started to get full of himself. This kept LeMay in touch with reality - and kept his from getting too crazy.

    If Microsoft is to improve as a company, someone needs to hold Bill Gates nose to a CRT screen and show him reality; that Microsoft often produces really crappy products, and that their business practices seem to have sprung from a contract signed in blood with someone named B. Elzebub.

  • And for all that I thought we were all hard-working libertarians who believe in the principles of a free market for getting the best out of society

    One of the most fundamental principles of a free market -- if not the most fundamental one -- is the one traditionally expressed as Thou Shalt Not Steal. Yea, verily, thou shalt not steal thy neighbor's ox, or thy neighbor's ass, nor shalt thou steal thy neighbor's bandwidth.
    /.

  • Just how the heck did a law like that get passed in the stat of Washington?

    Oh, that's right, up until this year Bill and his buds were too stoopid to use their billions to influence legislation, like the rest of corporate America does.

    Yeah, that's right, stoopid, S-T-O-O-P-I-D. This mob, which will utterly defy law and go back on their word, cannot be viewed as kind and gentle because they didn't yank the strings of government. Stoopidity, that's all it can be.


    --
    Chief Frog Inspector
  • Yeah.. its a little thing; multiply it by 40 fucking billion and all of a sudden all you are doing is opting out of lame ass marketing ideas.

    I don't care if it takes me a microsecond to "opt out" ... its still my time and you have no right taking it for free and make money from it.
  • Weeeellll, maybe. But really, in comparison to /., what's ZDNet? Just yet another place to be slashdotted..... I'm sure they don't have the same levels of readership, and I'm *defintely* sure that the quality of editorialship isn't even close to being on the same plane. On the other hand, you'll notice that the previous two sentences can be read two ways ;-)

  • Agreed "spam" is a loaded, derogatory word that has devolved from it's original meaning of "multiple excessive USENET postings" into "unsolicited commercial email".
    Net History: The term "spam" in the Internet sense appears to have originated on a MUSH, where it referred to the disruption of a role-playing session by an obnoxious character singing the Monty Python "Spam Spam Spam Spam" song.

    (See the spam glossary [rahul.net].)

  • Every sunday when I wake up I see hanging on my door knob a nifty plastic bag full of ads from the local grocery store, electronic shop and so much more. I take it and throw it right away.

    Why am I saying this? It's not that I am for spam and that I like it. I just think that your comparison is a bit exagerated. Spam would be much more like those plastic bags me and countless other people receive on sunday. And deleting spam from your mailbox is probably as much of an effort as throwing that bag to the garbage. Unless it takes you countless hours of intense scrubbing to remove the spam from your inbox like it would to remove that Coke banner you're talking about. If so then I have a magic trick for you... hit the "delete" key. It's much easier.


    "When I was a little kid my mother told me not to stare into the sun...
  • The single biggest problem at Microsoft as a corporation is this: nobody has yelled at Bill Gates in 20 years.

    When you get in a position of power and success you lose contact with reality; the main part of what you are doing is working so well that you begin to believe that you have uncovered the 'secret to life' ©Microsoft Inc. 1980 - 2000), and that therefore, everything you are doing is right. What is so dangerous for Gates is that he literally has billions of reasons to think he has everything figured out.

    This is a common problem for successful people. Ego's spring from misunderstanding; if you are successful at something and you don't understand the reasons that you are successful, you are primed for developing an inflated ego. Your brain starts trying to understand why you are successful, and the only thing it can come up with is "Well, I must be hot shit!" Once the brain arrives at that conclusion it begins to act to protect that theory, and Ego problems ensue.

    It's Robert Anton Wilson's SNAFU principle in action. Communication is only possible between equals. Corporation heads usually get their ego problems because everyone is nodding their heads and saying "yes sir, yes sir" when the boss comes up with an idea, no matter how fscked that idea might be. That's the origin of the "reality distortion field" surrounding very powerful people, be they Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or [insert favorite tech zillionaire here].

    What to do about this? I dunno...hierarchy is the essence of the corporation. Maybe that general you mention has the right idea. Perhaps some means of criticizing superiors without identities being known. As long as people are under the threat of punishment for telling the truth, the SNAFU principle will remain in force. And lame ideas and boneheaded mistakes will continue to be made by corporations.

  • You _can_ preview the message, you just can't edit it.
  • ...by replacing it with a RED screen of death.

    No, Microsoft has replaced it with something even better [mslinux.org]. Yessir! Good things are comming from Redmond these days.
  • It's not that they're dumb. Users can already customize the spam text. They can write their own and spam all their friends themselves by selecting all their contacts. But that wouldn't be auto-notify. There are quite a few brain cells at Microsoft, they just aren't the ethical kind. It's really beautiful that they are suggesting altering the ad to fix the problem. Still, though, tons of free ISPs do things like this too.
  • I think you misread what I was saying....

    We meaning the Linux community.... not the /. community

    (although two overlap in certain areas /.=! Linux community and vice-versa)

  • by twitter ( 104583 ) on Thursday September 28, 2000 @07:04AM (#748188) Homepage Journal
    As Chief of Microsoft and it's largest owner, Bill Gates is unconditionaly responsible for the actions of his company. He sets the tone, it is his environment. "Middle Management did it" is a poor excuse.
  • And how stupid do they think their customers are ?

    That's the problem, they don't KNOW! As their user base grows they don't know the average "stupidity" of that base. So they do thins like this to test the envelope.

    The assumption then is: Assume the user base has the IQ of gerbils and treat them thus until they prove you wrong

  • I usully get it when something funky happens with my ATA-100 driver. Maybe its trying to make a swap file and finds that it can't write to the disk..

    does that sound plausible?

    -Jon
  • Each unit of paper or telephone advertising delivered to the prospective consumer costs the advertiser something. Not so with e-mail. Even if the spammer is paying for metered uploads or connection time, adding recipients has a nearly negligible effect, since the body of the spam only has to be sent once


    Each email sent costs something also. It costs for the computer it was sent on. It costs for the bandwidth to send it. Spam may be cheaper than normal advertising, but telemarketing was cheaper than mail ads. That doesn't mean it's not a legitamate form of advertising.


    No, ISPs generally pay for a pipe the same way a user does. A T3 is a T3, no matter what is going through it. They don't pay per byte, or per minute, they pay for a pipe, and anything that pipe can hold is fair game.
    This one tripped my BS meter. As far as I know, most ISPs charge their large-pipe customers for transfers over a certain amount. The same may apply to the ISPs themselves. Are you yourself an ISP with multiple backbone providers? Are you a backbone provider? Have you ever gotten a high-speed pipe for your home or business? Do you know anything about what you're talking about?


    I myself don't work for an ISP, but I have many friends who do. They pay per pipe, just like we pay per dial-up (or whatever). The reason high-bandwidth connection are priced by bandwidth is usually that the ISP has to add additional pipes quickly when selling high-bandwidth pipes, and they can't oversell them nearly as much as dial-ups. Even with home/business high bandwidth connections, you usually don't pay per byte. You pay to have a set amount of bandwidth, with as much use of that set amount of bandwidth as you need.


    The telemarketers pay the phone company for the phone bandwidth. The direct marketers pay bulk rate postage for every piece mailed. It is in fact the high volume of bulk mail and the massive amounts spent on it by direct marketers that keeps the price of a first-class stamp low in the US.


    And the spammers pay their ISPs and phone bills. Everyone seems to forget that no one pays your ISP for you getting email. You pay for email when you send it (in the form of a phone line and ISP, or whoever you connect). If I send you an email, I don't have to your ISP to receive it, just like your ISP doesn't have to pay mine when you send me a message.


    I don't like spam, but it is no worse than any other form of advertising. Coventional marketing has a lot of things that are far worse than spam.

  • I don't wear clothes with logos all over them,

    Personally, probably 85% of my wardrobe has some tech company or other's logo on it ...

    because the logo doesn't add any value to the clothes

    ...because said articles of clothing were available to me for free. Free, to me, is a significant value, outweighing pretty much any other consideration attached to clothing oneself.
  • And the spammers pay their ISPs and phone bills.

    Hi. I work for the abuse department of a large ISP. I deal with this every day. I know what I'm talking about.

    In most cases, your statement is incorrect. The common practice now is to set up throw-away accounts with stolen credit cards, then do it again when that one is cancelled. Repeat as necessary.

    And this is most definitely stealing. Stealing the account and stealing the server resources used when they send out hundreds of thousands of messages. I've spoken to smaller ISP who's mail servers are basically DoS'd by a flood of incoming mail to thousands of randomly generated usernames @their_domain. I've spoken to people who have had their servers rendered unusable by a flood of bounce messages because some scumbag spammer did this with forged return address at their domain.

    Spammers should be shot, IMO.


    --
    Turn on, log in, burn out...
  • i dont like MS but it's an optional feature ya freaks
  • A Judo player?

    -Pete

  • it's obvious that you don't get this. The /. crowd generally favors opt-in rather than pain-in-the-arse opt-out company policies. When such policies are implemented by a company that has negative karma (MS), we like it even less.
  • Where does it say Slashdot made the difference? I'm betting plenty of people bitched about it to make MS change their mind, not just Slashdot. You could credit Slashdot as professional "Bitch at Microsoft" consultants on a news story tho.
  • by Private Essayist ( 230922 ) on Thursday September 28, 2000 @04:05AM (#748198)
    From the article:

    "The Redmond, Wash.-based software company said the address notification feature was only created as a helpful tool for consumers."

    Silly me, I thought it was a helpful tool for Microsoft to lock in users and spam others! How could I be so clueless as to not realize it was solely a helpful tool for consumers?

    I'm so grateful to Microsoft PR, for without them, I wouldn't know what to think!
    ________________

  • In the new version, a window will come up saying: Do you love Microsoft? And there'll be one button, marked "Yes." It'll be system modal so you can put it away or close it. Ctrl-Alt-Del will be disabled. So you have to hit "Yes". Then another window comes up, "Do you want to tell all your friends how great MS is?" with only a "Yes." Microsoft will just say, "We gave it to them in clear language this time, and regarding the question about your first born, it's been removed. We made a mistake there."
  • "We got a rude awakening today and we thought...'Let's make this clearer for the consumers'"

    OK, great. We've won that war. Can slashdot do an article on firing Ballmer and giving me his job?

    --
  • There is a rather unfortunate belief (rather prevelant on /. actually) that big companies aren't interested in listening to public perception and customer wishes. This isn't really true at all. Most organizations really are interested. The problem is that it is frequently difficult to get the attention of the people who can make the changes. Every company, big or small, makes some boneheaded decisions. (whether intentional or not) The difference is in whether the corporate culture and leadership is responsive to the inputs they have available to them. And that is not an easy task.

    Companies will pay attention particularly well if there is loud feedback in a public forum. Most companies love good publicity and will react very strongly to negative publicity. Companies are self interested organizations and avoiding negative publicity is very much of interest to them because it can impact their bottom line, as well as stock price, quite directly.

  • ``Clearer to the users?'' If Microsoft wanted to make it any clearer to the users that as far as MS was concerned they were just wallets that knew other wallets, they'd have to fill the screen with flashing scarlet words on a daffodil yellow background:
    YOU ARE JUST A WALLET!

    BUT YOU MAY YET HAVE VALUE

    BECAUSE YOU KNOW

    A LOT OF OTHER WALLETS!

    Au contraire, I think Microsoft saw their customer base coming - from a loooooong way off...
  • Hello people? And for all that I thought we were all hard-working libertarians who believe in the principles of a free market for getting the best out of society, I find this immense surge of distaste for one of the primary marketing tools for corporations online.

    The fact is that in order to increase their ability to create wealth, companies need to market their products and push ahead of the competition in terms of mind and market share. This is right, and this is healthy. There are already many traditional advertising channels which we take for granted now, although you can bet they weren't too popular at first.

    So why is spam any different? It isn't is the answer. In fact, spam is if anything superior to traditional advertising channels because it costs the originating company nothing, and it is extremely easy for them to use demographic profiling to target individuals with ads offering them services that would benefit them!

    Given that spam is simply a derogatory term for a new form of advertising, something which benefits everyone in our capitalist economy, I really can't help but think anyone criticising it is being hypocritical.

  • Even if they change the text of the message that gets sent the people in your address book, I still consider it Spamming. from what I read yesterday, to not send tons of emails, you have opt out of it. Which means that all those people that use MSN have to learn to read. That could be a long time. Even if Microsoft does change that, lots of other email providers do the same thing when you sign up. Take Yahoo! for example. When you sign up for an email account with them, there are 3 or 4 boxes you have to uncheck, or begin recieving unwanted messages about 5 minutes after you sign up with them. Personally, I'd like to see a lot of these companies change their policy on excessive email they send.
  • since it costs nothing it is sent in huge quantities and sometimes multiple times
    Kinda like all those mass mailing I get time and time again, or the multiple telemarketer calls I get every day?

    They found a source of postage, paper, and phone service that costs nothing? Cool! Where do I sign up?

    If you want to argue that the receiver pays for it, at least there is something to that (although at least in the US, the practice of paying for bandwidth usage is almost completely dead).

    In that case, all you folks who are paying bills for a Net connection ought to find out who is really getting the money -- it's obviously isn't the ISP, since "the practice of paying for bandwidth usage is almost completely dead" -- and put a stop to it.

    (The expected rejoinder "I meant that people don't typically pay 'per-minute'" is beside the point. When you get spam, the spammer has stolen some of your ISPs bandwidth, and the ISP will pass the cost of that along to you one way or another.)

    Some people advertise responsibly via email

    Yes; the ones who operate strictly opt-in mailing lists. I haven't seen anybody here complaining about those (and, in fact, they are themselves victims of spammer scum because they have to carefully distinguish their legitimate e-mail advertisements from the spam).
    /.

  • Anyways news is better unfilterred by some journallist.

    I agree. All I want is PR releases and pols' sound bites. Who needs analysis, context, or quotes from other parties with opposing viewpoints? Why would you want some journalist pointing out that today's release/sound bite directly contradicts one the same source made less than a week ago?

    All that stuff just gets in the way of the news.
  • See the little button marked "customize" in the search panel? Try clicking that and changing the settings sometime. You can up to nine (9) different search engines to use and also set the priority in which they are searched.

  • Point 3 and 4 started as 1 point, but got split into two seperate ones. Sorry... but I AM using a Microsoft keyboard s/n x04-58556 which is propery registered to me. Perhaps this is a feature of this keyboard :) (or a function of me trying to multi-task at work)
  • Doesn't anyone else think this was planned?

    I think it looked like this:

    Step 1: Relase new code with annoying email brodcasting.

    Step 2: Wait for public outrage to reach the right level, search the news sites to make sure it's listed on all of them.

    Step 3: Tell the American Consumer (TM) how nice we are and that we care about them so much that we'll fix the problem.

    Step 4: Place bigger ads for "new MSN" on primetime TV (while you're in the limelight).

    Give me a break! Why does the media continue to fall for this? The companies that provide good services don't get the same airtime because the are careful to not piss of the American Consumer (TM).

    In this case it's a double-edged sword, if people hadn't complained we'd get to read about it in our email every time Granny switched services.
  • A cult? You said a cult!?!?

    Hi, you must be new here! Welcome to slashdot!

    Make yourself comfortable, read articles, post, check the latest survey (it's about time it was changed).

    Now find a clock with a second hand. Watch the second hand. Focus on it. Notice how it goes around and around. Very nice, isn't it? Repeat the phrase: "There is no such thing as a cult."


    --
    Chief Frog Inspector
  • "In the final text, it will let recipients know that you have a new email address and shares how they can use that to communicate with you," she said. For example, a message may tell recipients that they can send messages through Hotmail and MSN Messenger.

    Or maybe they could use whatever program they are using to read that message.
    ___

  • No black helicopters

    That's only because White America has this preconceived notion that blacks are not qualified to be helicopters.

    -Pete

  • It looks like every newsletter that was published in-house when laser printers first appeared.

    -Pete

  • Ah, yes, the RSOD. You can actually do this too, you know. I guess they figured that we'd be seeing the screen so much, that we deserved at least that much. Mine's a nice black background with the ever-stylish green text, a la The Matrix. It's just so angst-ridden.
  • ...and there speaks someone who isn't paying by the minute for the phone call to his ISP.


    --
  • Yes, those of us who do Judo call it playing. In Japanese Judo means 'the gentle way'. Considering that under the rules of Judo breaking an arm or choking someone unconscious is legal and the Japanese considered that 'gentle' - it is not to difficult to understand that we would call it 'play' with the same sort of semi ironic logic.

    Judo players have a strange view of enjoyment: I actually enjoy being thrown to the mat; it is a lot like an amusement park ride that you don't know you're on. If you listen to really good players, they laugh when they get thrown.

  • "Crap", "Shitheads"? Your language itself reflects the poor attitudes that plauge much of American management: Me first over you. There is a better way. Co-operation is better than adveserial competition.

    Instead of constantly seeking "shitheads" to fire, you sould make sure you only hire talented people with reasonable attitudes. When people have problems and start acting strange, you need to find out why and help them out. If someone does not live up to their potential, you need to make the best use of them you can. Proper selection and loyalty to employees promotes loyalty to the company. Harrasing your employees before you fire them will ruin you.

    No one can be responsible for all freak accidents, but Billy G. can do better. You can't help it if an individual goes insane and does something stupid, but this was not an unforseable or individual act. Every publication needs to be run through PR. PR should know better than to create a trap like this. Hell, every single programer should have better morals than that. They should all know that it's not OK to pain their users with code that's inconsistent, deceptive and buggy. They should not consider those users "morons". Morals come from the top down. No mind control is needed, you just don't do things the company does not approve of. Nor do employees do things that are not part of the company's mission. Billy G. embodies those morals and that mission. When he, or his top managers, email questions like "A. How does this make more money for Microsoft? B. How does this help kill Unix?" about interoperability, the wrong message is sent. There are countless other examples of wrongheaded behavior that go back to the foundation of MS, and it all eminates from one person and the people he chose.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think it's pretty pityfull that the author couldn't just cut and paste the stupid message instead of "summarizing" it. Would that be a violation of Microsoft's copyright or would it be ok since the email was generated by someone you know? Anyways news is better unfilterred by some journallist.

    The other thing is why don't they just let the user write his/her own message.

    I think this still counts as spam. It's just like posting "help wanted" advertisesments to the usenet. It isn't evil spam just, "I'm a retard" type spam.

    And it's good to see that microsoft is finally going to try straighten out the fact that anyone with half a brain can write an outlook virus. Unfortunately they're going about this in totally the wrong way. There are tons of things a virus writer can do besides email everyone in your address book. This is just another case of Microsoft creating a bad product not because the programmers are dumb but because the ideas behind the product were dumb at a much more grander scale.

    Email should be text. Email should not be code. One thing you have to learn early on is not to run other peoples code on your computer. Microsoft doesn't seem to realise this and it hurts customers and it hurt customers view of technolodgy. Microsoft is making the world hate computers.

    Same thing is true with their text processor. Text processors should process text and not run arbitrary code. Microsoft makes me worried about why so many people with average to above average intelligence can be so fundamentally dumb.

    Also they miss used the world "hacker" instead of virus writer.

    erorr27[at]email.com

  • Microsoft today said it plans to revise a notification message , not the "feature" itself!!!
    "'Let's make this clearer for the consumers,'" a Microsoft representative said.
    The current email text lets friends and colleagues know about the person's new email address and then it pushes benefits of MSN Explorer.
    "In the final text, it will let recipients know that you have a new email address and shares how they can use that to communicate with you,"

    So what exactly they are going to change? Rename "bug" to "feature"? "We will not push anymore, we will share"
    Feedback actually helps... MS PR got to write new paper. Software? Naah, they'll keep it as it is.
  • Sure spam can be considered another form of advertising, but the difference is that there are no ethics in this form. There are various examples of lack of ethics in spam:

    - since it costs nothing it is sent in huge quantities and sometimes multiple times
    - spammers are in the majority anonymous because they realise that this form of advertising is unpopular
    - they will not respect your right to be removed from their mailing list even when asked
    - it is not even marked as an advert to ease filtering

    Advertisers of the solid world have a code of ethics, and will respect people's rights if enough people complain (they have the clients reputation to worry about) spammers don't and this is the major issue.

    The only form of advertising that I will accept with my e-mails are those I have signed up to (opt-in) and those banners on the webpages of sites such as hotmail ( the owner isn't an issue).

    My Netscape e-mail account has become unusable. I have probably share the e-mail address twice, though it doesn't stop 500k of e-mails being there when I check it once every two months.

  • by Booker ( 6173 ) on Thursday September 28, 2000 @04:29AM (#748223) Homepage
    Don't feed the trolls, yadda yadda.... but:

    So why is spam any different? It isn't is the answer. In fact, spam is if anything superior to traditional advertising channels because it costs the originating company nothing...

    Ok, there's a nice contradiction. Spam is different, because it costs the target of the ad, not the sender. "Just delete it" is often the answer, but I don't agree with that. I shouldn't have to put up with it.

    How would you like it if someone snuck over to your house at night and used watercolors to paint a big 10' x 5' ad for Coke on the side of it? "Hey, it washes right of... and besides, that's what you like to drink, anyway, right?" - and that's OK?

    ---

  • by cluge ( 114877 ) on Thursday September 28, 2000 @04:31AM (#748224) Homepage
    Remember MSN's goal is to move people off from the POP3 servers to a web based e-mail. This gives MSN more eyes viewing their web pages and also keeps mail stored on MS owned servers. This has 3 advatages for MSN

    • Increased revenue through web-page adverts (web adverts on your MUA aren't spam are they??)
    • Decreased load from POP3 servers (don't have to make NT survive another mellissa type virus???)
    • Causes customers to rely on MSN's servers more. Mail is no longer stored locally, but on the remote server.
    • This also makes searching said e-mail for patterns, spam or illegal software easier.

      If I was a MSN customer I'd be pissed! As a consumer I'm just worried.

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