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2004-06-11 10:29 AM
Microsoft fucks up technology
I'm not your standard blind-hatred-for-Microsoft type of geek. I do not hate the entire corporation, but I do hate certain things that it does, and only with good reason.
Here is my current story (the non-geeks in the crowd may want to shield their eyes and turn away):
I recently migrated the mail server on journalscape.com away from Apache James to Postfix. After the migration was complete, a small subset of my users couldn't send email. I ran several tests and it always worked for me, so I didn't understand why they were having such problems.
I use SMTP-AUTH on my server. Users have to provide a username and password when sending mail through the server, which stops spammers from being able to send email through my server. The ESTMP standard includes an authentication mechanism called AUTH PLAIN, where the username and password are MIME encoded before being sent. The password is still essentially plain text, because it can be easily decoded, but at the very least it's not human readable.
I noticed that the one thing all of the problem users had in common was they were using Outlook. I did a few Google searches and found this document about how to setup SMTP AUTH for Postfix. It had this wonderful little piece of information:
Microsoft decided to create their OWN authentication mechanism and DID NOT support the mechanism described in the freakin RFC!!!! Not only did they not support the standard mechanism, their mechanism is exactly the same, but it actually sends the passwords as human readable. They didn't even add anything good to the mechanism, didn't even try to conceal their underhanded actions with good intentions. All they were trying to do is get people to purchase the Microsoft Mail server because it supports the Outlook Authentication mechanism.
Well, the programmers for the authentication libraries I'm using with Postfix added the AUTH LOGIN (as Microsoft so lovingly called it) functionality. So, I had to recompile the SASL libraries and enable AUTH LOGIN functionality. I installed the libraries and restarted postfix. All of the Outlook users are able to send email now.
It just pisses me off that Microsoft intentionally violates rules to try to create a monopoly.
It also makes me even happier to work at a company like Google who genuinely tries to do good for the users.
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