A notional subscription service, comparable to the Book-of-the-Month Club or various food-of-the-month clubs, which delivers newly minted email viruses to unsuspecting users of Microsoft Outlook. Monthly fees are usually payable in annoyance and data loss. However, deluxe shipments come at a premium of network overload, Trojan-horse installation, privacy compromise, or complicity in felony denial-of-service attack.

The intended reference, of course, is to the numerous facilities within Outlook (and the Windows user environment in general) which make them conducive to the spread of viruses. The Windows Messaging API makes it easy for programs to access lists of addresses and send email; the Windows interface and scripting capacities make it natural for inexperienced users to conflate "executing a(n untrusted) program" with "displaying a document."

It is not the case, of course, that all users of Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express are "subscribers" to this dubious "service". The antivirus industry has made quite a killing selling protection from the individual, specific viruses which exploit these generally available mechanisms. If you conscientiously license Norton AntiVirus for each Windows PC you connect to the Internet, you can be confident that as soon as the clever fellows at Symantec discover a new virus in the wild, you'll be protected within a day or two.

And, of course, there's no way the Virus-of-the-Month Club's billing department would screw up and send you an invoice due on that day or two.

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