Microsoft will start honoring p=reject DMARC policies for incoming email which does not pass a DMARC check when the associated DMARC record designates a policy of p=reject. This affects inbound messages at Microsoft Outlook email addresses, Microsoft Hotmail email addresses, Microsoft Live email addresses, and MSN email addresses.

Prior to this announcement, if a sending system’s DMARC policy stated “p=reject”, instead of rejecting the email outright, Hotmail, Outlook, Live, and MSN would instead put the email in the intended recipient’s junk folder or spam folder, also sometimes known as putting it in quarantine.

In the announcement, made to industry groups today, a Microsoft spokesperson explained that “Microsoft is proud to announce our Consumer email service (Outlook/Hotmail/MSN/Live) will now honor the DMARC record of “p=reject” by rejecting the message if the domain fails DMARC. Previously, messages that failed DMARC were sent to the junk folder (Quarantine). Over the next 30 days these DMARC-failing messages will be rejected.”

As we explain in our plain English explanation of DMARC, SPF, and DKIM email authentication, DMARC stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance. You can sort of think of it as the last check after the receiving system checks SPF and DKIM; DMARC tells the receiving system what to do with an inbound email if it doesn’t pass either of the SPF authentication check or the DKIM authentication check. It does this with the “p=” tag, followed by what should be done. In the case of “p=reject” it is saying that if the inbound email doesn’t pass either of SPF or DKIM authentication the email should be rejected and not delivered.

This is why it’s so important to make sure that your email has at least one of SPF and DKIM set up, and set up correctly. You can read more about that here. If you must have only one of them set up, we recommend that it be SPF, and you can read more about that here.

As always, we offer a hands-on free test of which you can take advantage, whether you are our customer or not, to make sure that your SPF and other email authentication is set up correctly. The advantage of having us check it for you over one of the automated testers such Mail-Tester is that we actually put human eyes on your email and your SPF, etc. so we can see if it’s set up correctly, whereas the automated testers just test whether you have an SPF record and not if it’s correct, and so will tell you that you pass with flying colors even if your SPF is wrong (which can be worse than not having it set up at all).

To have us check out your email authentication set up for you at no charge, email us at

Microsoft Inbox Properties to Start Rejecting and Honoring P=Reject DMARC Policies

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