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8: Junk Email Protection Doesn’t Learn

Spam is the bane of all heavy email users. It clogs our inboxes with pitches for all manner of offensive products, and wastes our time and computer resources downloading, filtering, and storing the junk email. I’m the first to admit that the Junk E-mail Protection in Microsoft Office 2004 is vastly superior to what was available in the previous version of Office (see Figure 8). But, though it catches a lot of crap, it still misses a ton of stuff because spammers are constantly improving their techniques, while the Office 2004 defenses grow long in the tooth.

Figure 8

Figure 8 Entourage’s anti-spam features don’t get better over time by learning from tagged messages.

Since email is integral to modern life, Entourage desperately needs anti-spam features smart enough to be trained to thwart the very latest junk email tricks. Currently, if you select a piece of spam and click the Junk icon in the toolbar, Entourage just classifies the email as junk and moves it to the Junk E-mail folder. Instead, Entourage should analyze the message to determine what characteristics distinguish it from legitimate email, and use this knowledge to prevent similar messages from getting by its barriers in the future. And users should have the option to share their spam profiles with Microsoft so that the company can offer its ever-improving anti-spam engine updates to all users.

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