This blog has been corrected. It originally gave an outdated job title for Shahine. He currently is a lead program manager for Hotmail.
Microsoft's antispam boffins think they're onto something fairly intuitive and yet unique enough to be patentable, and they're using the term "boomerang" to describe it.
According to the blog of Omar Shahine, a lead program manager for Hotmail, the service now examines whether e-mail messages are replies in determining whether or not they're spam.
"We have some code that tags your outbound messages," Shahine wrote in his July 7 entry. "If the e-mail recipients reply to your message, and they are using a modern mail client, that message will find its way back to you--just like a boomerang."
The method also dispenses with those annoying delivery failure notices you get when a spammer uses your e-mail address fraudulently.
"We've had this feature in Hotmail for a few months now and it's working great," Shahine wrote. "You probably never noticed, but you're probably getting all the replies to emails you sent when people chose to reply. Making e-mail more reliable, it's just one (of the) things we're bringing you this year."
One more thing Microsoft's bringing you: a patent application for the technique.