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Failed talks fueled open source rejection of Sender ID

The open source community's mistrust of Microsoft cuts so deep, it appears that nothing will be able to heal the wound. Not even a royalty-free protocol to help fight spam.

Few IT industry watchers think Sender ID is the magic bullet that will stop the spam monster in its tracks. Nonetheless, it was a positive sign in May when Microsoft agreed to merge its Caller ID for E-Mail spec with the complementary Sender Policy Framework created by Meng Weng Wong.

Currently winding its way through the standards process at the Internet Engineering Task Force, Sender ID took a slap to the face late last week when the Apache Software Foundation issued a statement that it would not support the protocol because of intellectual property concerns. The Debian project, a fellow open source organization, quickly followed suit on Saturday with its own rejection of Sender ID.

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According to Apache, Larry Rosen, general counsel for the Open Source Initiative, has been negotiating the sticking points since July 20 -- to no avail -- with Michele Herman, a patent and trademark attorney working for Microsoft.

Apparently, the terms of the free Sender ID license are agreeable to the likes of America Online, IronPort and about 50 companies -- including DoubleClick -- that are part of the Email Service Provider Coalition. Yet open source proponents are adamant that the license terms are a bad deal and are against everything they stand for.

It's not clear whether the talks between Microsoft and open source representatives are dead or just on life support, but some technology analysts say Sender ID will likely be widely adopted, even if open source doesn't back it.

Elsewhere in the news

Adding insult to injury on the spam front is a new report from MX Logic that found that some spammers have discovered a way to manipulate the Sender Policy Framework -- a core component of the Sender ID spec -- to make their junk messages appear to come from legitimate sources. That's creative disrespect. … Microsoft will allow a tool that blocks automatic downloads of Windows XP SP2 to keep doing the job for twice as long as its original expiration date. The blocking tool, which was designed to give customers time to test the service pack before deploying it, was set to expire after 120 days. Redmond has extended that deadline to 240 days, which is April 12. … Also, customers are being warned to scan their machines for spyware before downloading XP SP2. Some reports say that spyware is causing computers to lock up during SP installations. … Microsoft is expected to formally launch Virtual Server 2005 next week. The virtualization software will come in Standard and Enterprise editions when it ships later this month. … In a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Microsoft called open source rivals a "significant challenge to our business model." Fueling the competition, it said, were government mandates in some parts of the world to use open source software. … Any idea what a good crop of zombies is worth? USA Today reported that a recent posting on a Web site frequented by spammers puts the going rate at $2,000 to $3,000. For that price, you can get a network of 20,000 hijacked machines -- or zombies -- that can be used to spread spam, launch worms or foment phishing attacks. … At the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco this week, a Microsoft executive said Windows drivers will revamped for the Longhorn release. Some drivers, such as the Windows Driver Model and Plug & Play protocol haven't been touched since Windows 95.

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