Do you have the latest Junk Email filter?

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There is an error on the Microsoft Support web site regarding the date and version of the latest Junk Email filter update for Outlook 2007.

I like to ensure I have the latest spam filter for Outlook 2007 but the details on the Microsoft web site don’t match what I have installed. I’m concerned that I don’t have the latest update or worse some fake spam details. Can you help? ” Jim C, Omaha.

Jim raises a good point – there does seem to be an error on the Microsoft Support web site regarding the date and version of the latest Junk Email filter update for Outlook 2007.

Firstly, some background … Outlook 2003 and 2007 have an anti-spam filter included. Because spammers are constantly trying new tactics to avoid those filters the Outlook filter needs updating from time to time. Microsoft has made these updates more regular than they were in the past.

Office Watch has occasionally noted new types of spam like the CNN spoofs and a fake Windows update. At the time Outlook didn’t detect those messages as spam, until the next update to the filter from Microsoft which includes details of the latest email scourges. From then on, those unwanted messages should go straight to the Junk E-mail folder.

Most people will get those updates automatically via Microsoft Update. Outlook will automatically use the updated spam info from then on.

However it is possible to download the Junk E-mail filter update separately – at the time of writing the latest update for Outlook 2007 is officially dated 9 December 2008.

It’s not easy to work out if you have the latest Junk E-mail filter installed. You’d hope that the date and details of the filter is available from Outlook – for example the Help | About menu item. But that would be far too simple and obvious.

To work out which version of the spam filter you have, it’s necessary to go digging around in the Program Files folder to find the file OUTLFLTR.dat . You can search for it but most people will find the file in the C:Program FilesMicrosoft OfficeOffice12 folder (where the main Office application files like Outlook.exe are stored).

Having found outlfltr.dat right-click on the file and choose Properties. Compare those details with the ones listed on the Microsoft Support web site. That’s where our reader, Jim, started to get concerned.

Here’s what Microsoft says you should see:

750 Outlook 2007   Junk Email filter details Dec 2008 - Do you have the latest Junk Email filter?

 















File name

File version

File size

Date

Time

Outlfltr.dat

12.0.7026.1079

3,669,816

27-Oct-2008

12:02

However the installed update doesn’t match all those details or you can’t always see the details at all.

In Windows Vista here’s what you’ll see …

750 Outlook 2007   Junk Email filter file details Dec 2008 - Do you have the latest Junk Email filter?

 

Instead of a file date of 27 October 2008 at 12:02 the file is dated 5 November 2008 at 22:57.

Windows Vista, for reasons that defy sense, doesn’t have the ‘Versions’ tab available in Windows XP. Only in Windows XP can you see the file version:

750 Outlook 2007   Junk Email filter file details from WinXP Dec 2008 - Do you have the latest Junk Email filter?

 

Jim’s problem is that the file date and time doesn’t match what Microsoft says he should have. That date is a month earlier that the official release date of the Junk Email update – which makes you wonder how current the update really is.

Jim can’t see the version number, because he has Windows Vista.

Only the file size exactly matches the Microsoft statement.

So Jim, and any other Outlook 2007 user is entitled to wonder what’s going on.

We suspect that, despite the anomalies, that Jim has the latest and legitimate update. Our reasons:



  • The file size matches exactly
  • We copied the outlfltr.dat file to a Windows XP machine to see that the version details match.
  • Outlfltr.dat comes with a valid digital signature issued to Microsoft.
  • The update was downloaded directly from the Microsoft web site.
  • If you try to install the update a second time, the update says the latest version is already installed.

There’s really no excuse for the mistakes on the Microsoft web site – it should only take a moment for Office team staff to check the published update data against the installed file (as Jim and Office Watch has done).

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