Microsoft has unveiled a new set of MSN Hotmail-based services aimed at helping the email industry combat junk mail. The two new services are called MSN Postmaster and Smart Network Data Services (see the URLs below). MSN Postmaster is an informative Web site; Smart Network Data Services lets ISPs and other bulk email senders interact with Hotmail's antispam tools.

"MSN Postmaster and Smart Data Network Services represent a move by Microsoft toward broader, more comprehensive and transparent information-sharing with ISPs and email senders to help protect email and ensure that it continues to be an essential and valuable communications tool," said Kevin Doerr, an MSN Hotmail product unit manager at Microsoft. "With over 200 million active email accounts worldwide, MSN Hotmail is in a unique position to collect and analyze email activity data. Working together, MSN Hotmail and service providers can make their customers happier and more satisfied with the services we all provide."

MSN Postmaster is essentially a Web site designed for ISPs, email service providers, and other bulk email senders, giving them the information they need to communicate with users on the Hotmail network. Using the guidelines available at MSN Postmaster, bulk emailers will be able to reduce problems when sending legitimate email to Hotmail users.

Smart Network Data Services is a new Hotmail service that helps fight spam by reporting on the characteristics of individual email messages sent through the Hotmail network. Using the service, ISPs can determine how much email is being sent to Hotmail accounts from their own networks, what happens to that email when it encounters Hotmail's spam-fighting tools, and what percentage of that mail is ultimately marked as unwanted by Hotmail. ISPs can then determine whether bulk emailers are illegally using their networks and take steps to ensure that legitimate email is properly cleaned before leaving their networks.

In recent years, Microsoft has taken a variety of other steps to help mitigate the junk mail problem. The company includes antispam technology in its email server and client products, has helped develop the Sender ID Framework email authentication technology, and has implemented various antispam and antiphishing solutions on its Hotmail service.

MSN Hotmail Postmaster
  
Smart Network Data Services