On November 1, 2016, Microsoft will stop with supplying new updates to the Junk E-mail Filter (also known as SmartScreen) for Outlook and Exchange.
The Safe and Blocked Senders lists and the International Filter will continue to function as before but the Junk E-mail filter itself will become less effective as definitions will age. Eventually, Microsoft will remove the filter entirely from future Outlook and Exchange versions.
For most scenarios, this might actually sound more dramatic than it actually is; You might already be using a superior Junk E-mail Filtering solution without realizing it.
For instance, Outlook.com and Office 365 Exchange Online users are already behind a more modern Junk E-mail Filter known as Exchange Online Protection (EOP). This solution can also be used by corporate Exchange On-Premises environments.
Google Gmail and iCloud users are also already behind a very effective server-side spam filter and hardly ever need to rely on Outlook’s own Junk E-mail filter.
In fact, it is actually even recommended to disable Outlook’s own Junk E-mail filter when using multiple computers to prevent messages that you marked as Not Junk to be moved to the Junk E-mail folder again.
Likewise, many other providers have stepped up their game with server-side junk e-mail filtering so Outlook’s own filtering system is now considered an obsolete feature to effectively combat spam. This is also reflected by the fact that most Mail apps on both Windows and other platforms like MacOS, iOs and Android don’t have a built-in Junk E-mail feature either.
POP3 users are probably affected the most by this as they won’t “see” the server-side Junk E-mail folder as POP3 accounts can only download from the Inbox folder.
When you are using POP3, check whether your provider also offers a Junk E-mail filter which can mark any suspect emails and leave them in the Inbox folder of your mailbox.
For instance, if the filter can prepend the subject with ***SPAM***, then you can simply create a rule to move all these messages with ***SPAM*** in the subject to the Junk E-mail folder in Outlook.
Reasons for removal
As already mentioned, one of the reasons to stop supplying updates and eventually remove the Junk E-mail Filter from Outlook is that mail providers have become much more active and efficient with server-side filtering than when the feature got introduced in Outlook 2003.
Another reason to stop with the Junk E-mail Filter is because the way that spam floods are now being set up and ran is quite different from how it was. They can now also start and evolve much faster, even within minutes, so a monthly updated pre-rendered client-side filter will hardly do and real-time server-side filters are needed.
Furthermore, client-side filters can also conflict with the server-side filters like in the the previous example of messages marked as Not Junk being marked as Junk again, and these situations will only increase as more and more people start to use Exchange and IMAP based account which get synched with multiple devices.
For more technical info and further details, see the blog post of the Microsoft Exchange Team that is linked below.
Eventually, this tab of the Junk E-mail Options dialog will be removed from future releases of Outlook.
Last Junk E-mail Filters for Outlook
The last Junk E-mail Filters for Outlook were released in August 2016;
Download: Update for Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 Junk Email Filter (KB3115461)
Download: Update for Microsoft Office Outlook 2010 Junk Email Filter (KB3115475)
Download: Update for Microsoft Office Outlook 2013 Junk Email Filter (KB3115404)
Download: Update for Microsoft Office Outlook 2016 Junk Email Filter (KB3115407)
When you are using Outlook 2016 as part of Office 365, then these filters are included in version 16.0.7070.2033 and later.