A lot of emails sent today are in HTML, using embedded graphics. However, a lot of spammers take advantage of this and send HTML emails to recipients. When a recipient opens up an email using Outlook Express, the images are retrieved, allowing a spammer to get notification that the recipient is indeed an active user.
Outlook Express in Windows XP SP2 now supports the blocking of images in email (though Outlook already has this feature). Figure 15 shows Outlook Express blocking the pictures in an email. To load a picture, simply click on the message.
Figure 15. Pictures are blocked in Outlook by default
However, like most features in XP SP2, you have the option to turn off this feature in the Options menu in Outlook Express (see Figure 16).
Figure 16. Configuring Outlook Express
In XP SP2, Microsoft is making a conscientious effort to let users play a more active role in protecting their machines. While ultimately the user needs to decide whether to allow a seemingly harmless application to execute or not (but then again, how can a user tell?), the user is at least educated of what is happening behind the scene.
Security seems to be the primary focus of SP2, but improvements in areas like networking make SP2 a compelling upgrade as well.
Wei-Meng Lee (Microsoft MVP) http://weimenglee.blogspot.com is a technologist and founder of Developer Learning Solutions http://www.developerlearningsolutions.com, a technology company specializing in hands-on training on the latest Microsoft technologies.
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