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Microsoft Changes Sender ID; AOL Back On Board

Microsoft also narrowed its patent applications for the underlying technology in an effort to appease open-source critics.

Microsoft resurrected its anti-spam Sender ID proposal Monday by making changes to appease some critics, and immediately won over one of its biggest detractors: America Online.

Microsoft made modifications to how Sender ID, a proposed e-mail authentication scheme that combines elements of the long-available Sender Policy Framework (SPF) with its own Caller ID for Email, to work better with existing SPF records. It also narrowed its patent applications for the underlying technology in an effort to appease open-source critics.

Microsoft first submitted Sender ID to the standards-setting group, Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), this summer, but disagreements between the Redmond, Wash.-based developer and open-source advocates, primarily over licensing, led to an abandonment of the standard by the IETF in September, and defections by the likes of AOL and the Apache Software Foundation.

Monday, Microsoft resubmitted Sender ID to the IETF, said Ryan Hamlin, the general manager of Microsoft's safety technology group, in a statement.

However, the terms of Microsoft's licensing of Sender ID haven't changed, which has led to some analysts claiming that open-source followers will still balk at accepting a standard which doesn't allow others to make changes.

But AOL was fast to applaud Microsoft's move. The changes "are indicative of the evolutionary process that occurs in the E-mail authentication debate," the Dulles, Va.-based ISP said in a statement.

AOL's main beef was that Sender ID wasn't accounting for backward compatibility with existing SPF implementations. Microsoft's modifications, said AOL, gave it new hope that standards can be hammered out.

"The new Sender ID specification is, without a doubt, proof that the process can work well from a collaborative efforts standpoint. But more progress can be made, and much more work is to be done," said AOL.

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