Authentication battle hitting crescendo

No sooner (or should I say “at the same time”) that Microsoft decides it is going to try cramming its authentication protocol, Sender ID, down everyone’s throat through its Hotmail offering, then the other side of the coin drops.

Ironport, makers of email security appliances, has announced that they have integrated Domain Keys into their offerings. Domain Keys is the competitor to Sender ID being pushed by Yahoo!.

I am anxious to see how this all falls out.

On one hand you have MS dropping any non-Sender ID email into the junk mail folder in their Hotmail offering, which will either force email security companies to adopt the concept, or force Hotmail subscribers to simply go someplace else. If Microsoft pulls the same trick with Office 12 (?) somehow, then every either has a problem or Microsoft wins after all.

On the other hand you have Yahoo!, who has gotten someone to offer their standard, but there is no telling whether or not they will adopt the same tactics Microsoft has. If they don’t force Domain Keys on their email subscribers (and I don’t think they will), I suspect Microsoft is going to wind up with a black eye. Hotmail has no discernable competitive advantage over Yahoo! Mail, and switching costs for users is as simple as a few hours time to notify their address book of the change.