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Email Needs to Change - Unfortunately, it Can't
Bill Gates foolishly thought the spam problem would be solved by sometime in 2006
Bill Gates apparently believed that a technical solution to stop unwanted emails was well within grasp, and that once developed, it would be rapidly adopted.
He was right on the first part. Electronic postage would seem to have the ability to radically minimize spam. The version I suggested wouldn't even require money - just computing power.
Bill was dead wrong on the second part though. Actually reengineering email is like rebuilding a car's engine with it running.
Once protocols come into use - they generally don't change in ways that aren't backwards compatible.
If you're no longer accepting email from servers that don't work like yours - the new standard is pretty much by-definition not backwards compatible.
Many other existing protocols have problems. Consider that almost all email (POP3) and FTP clients are configured to send their account passwords plain-text. This poses a major, major security issue.
Secure alternatives (SSH, SSL for POP3) exist. Still, most system administrators won't disable the unsecured versions for fear of user black-lash. Even DNS suffers from security problems built into the protocol.
Similar issues have plagued efforts to provide authentication regarding an email's actual sender.
What are my predictions for the future of email? (This article is being written in early 2007)
I suspect that in 2012:
SMTP will look almost identical to how it does now. Various competing "add-ons" may exist to reduce spam messages - but their actual value will be mitigated because no one dare configure their server to reject email based upon them.
As a result, we'll have just as much of a spam problem as we do today.
As a further result, I will have gone into semi-retirement due to continued strong sales of SpamButcher.