Microsoft: You've Got Mail After All

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A year Microsoft would like to forget is closing out on an appropriately galling note for the company as a California state court Monday ordered it to stop filtering out messages from users of Blue Mountain Arts, an e-mail greeting card service. Being cast as the Grinch was the frosting on a cake that's mostly ended up in the company's face this fall, and for once it was actually the result of trying to make a better product for consumers.

A new version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer comes with an e-mail product, Outlook Express, that automatically sorts out junk mail and puts in the trash. Trouble is, the filter sometimes mistakes legitimate correspondence for spam, and that's what's been happening to the digital Christmas cards that people have been sending via Blue Mountain. Microsoft was ordered to provide Blue Mountain by Tuesday with whatever information it needed to bypass the overzealous filter -- which, ironically, trashes Microsoft e-cards too -- and must post warnings on the product alerting users to the potential for lost mail. Microsoft had tried to defend itself earlier by arguing that the filter did not actually delete mail or make it impossible to read. But as the characters in "You've Got Mail" could tell you, what good is anything if you don't know it's there.