bynkii (bynkii) wrote,

Oh lord, now the Exchange team is doing it

Okay, I know this will not surprise anyone, but look, the Exchange 2007 blog is doing its best to make IMAP look like something only the abused kids use. "The kids whose parents really love them use Exchange Active Sync, so if all your parents let you use is IMAP..."

I'll leave off how even Outlook 2007 still can't do IMAP as well as it should, it never has, and who here thinks IMAP, (Client OR Server), is more of a priority to the Exchange team than color coding door handles?

Right. So on to the FUD:
Both IMAP and EAS give the mobile client the capability to read email with rich html formatting, and view their inbox as well as subfolders of their inbox and reply/reply-all/forward/compose email (technically, the iPhone uses SMTP to send email. SMTP for outbound email is configured along during IMAP/Exchange account setup on the device).

Okay, so first of all guys, the ability to read email has nothing whatsoever to do with the protocol used to deliver it. Really. I know this seems pedantic, but since you are, in theory, developers of a system that has a vague association with email, can we get the details correct? It is not the MTA, (Mail Transfer Agent, i.e. Exchange, Cyrus, etc.) that enables the reading of email in any form, rich, poor, or in debt up to its eyeballs. The MTA, as its name suggests, transfers email from node a to node b. These nodes may be user machines or other email servers. It is the MUA or Mail User Agent, that enables the reading of email and deals with rich text. But then again, Microsoft couldn't be bothered to let you read HTML email on a handheld until Windows Mobile 6, which is not much older than the iPhone, so I guess some confusion is normal. Especially from Microsoft.
EAS also supports capabilities for:

Direct Push, which provides an up-to-date messaging experience designed for mobile networks

(Craig, this one's for you to take note of) Could someone please send, to whomever the hell teaches communication skills/techniques at Microsoft, a copy of the Chicago Manual, and perhaps a sixth - grade grammar text? I swear, there's almost no one from that company who can write a proper English sentence. For those of you not fluent in weasel, Direct Push lets you get email et al without having to manually check for it on a schedule. Those with a clue are thinking, "You mean like IDLE in IMAP?", and that would be correct. Direct Push covers more than IDLE, but (as we see later in the article), IMAP does indeed allow for a Direct Push-like function. Even if you only speak English.
Email flagging to improve the triage experience on the device

Again with the weasel. Jesus, why not say "EAS lets you flag email so that you can manage it easier from your phone." You're not Hawkeye Pierce, you're not even Noah Wiley, stop using terms that don't apply because you think they look cool. I'm also not sure that this isn't a WM 6 - only feature. However, it is correct to say that IMAP doesn't support this. It is also correct to say that IMAP doesn't not support this, because in the world of email servers, flagging messages is an MUA function. It is also completely correct to say that if you, (HORRORS) use an MUA that doesn't support Exchange/Outlook's flagging feature, the flags are exactly as useful as a third nipple on your forehead. When you're male. In other words, what they kind of forget is that flagging, at least in their implementation, is not implemented in a way that is of use to other MUAs. But this is the Exchange team here, "denial" is their summer home.
AutoDiscover to simplify the process of setting up a new device over-the-air

As long as it's a WM device talking to Exchange. While there has been a lot of work in doing this better for IMAP et al, this is one area where I really wish the IETF people would spend a lot more time. Client configuration should be simpler, and this is one area that Apple appears to be looking at for Leopard. The downside is, I'm going to guess it will be an Open Directory - only feature.
Server-side logic to preserve the formatting of rich email on reply/forward if the mobile client doesn't support rich html editing (most don't)

You mean "Most WM clients don't". The iPhone handles this just fine, but in any event, this is not a function of IMAP. Maybe if Microsoft hadn't shipped broke-dick email clients with WM until WM 6, they wouldn't be cheering about such an obvious feature like being able to properly read HTML email. As far as editing, the iPhone doesn't support creating HTML email, but then again, I can't see how doing that on any phone would be anything but teh suck. In any event, this is not a protocol/server issue, it's a client one. Maybe if the Exchange team didn't have to do client dev as well, they'd remember the difference.
Numerous bandwidth optimizations to reduce data charges and improve battery life

Okay, this is not only a post full of weasel, but now it's not even making sense. Here's an idea: Don't ship your devices with shitty batteries, (Motorola Q? Looking RIGHT AT YOU PAL), and stop suckering people into limited data plans for WM and similar devices. iPhone users don't have to care about data charges, it's all unlimited. Yay for foresite. However, IMAP is, when implemented correctly, (something the Exchange team has yet to really do), quite parsimonious with bandwidth. I can tell you from personal experience that a proper IMAP setup can let you download over 3000 mail headers in under 5 minutes on a 33.6K modem. What the Exchange team doesn't want to point out is that unlike quite a few of the implementations out there, (including, sadly, Entourage's, and it would appear, the iPhone's too), IMAP is designed to work in three stages:
  1. Get the headers from the IMAP server and nothing more.

  2. When a message is selected for reading, then and only then, download the body of the message, and nothing more.

  3. Attachments are left on the server with naught but a pointer on the client until the human decides to download them

Offline use is enabled via caching. Unfortunately, most MUAs don't do this correctly, but rather operate like IMAP is some form of POP, and you have no option to do it the correct way. Pity really, it makes spam handling easy on the bandwidth. So yes, contrary to what the Exchange team would have you believe, IMAP is designed to be every bit as nice to the bandwidth and power gods as EAS, and, unlike EAS, is fully documented and available for all to use sans licensing agreements.

Now, on to the areas where Exchange has an advantage, but only kind of.
A significant part of the Exchange user experience goes beyond email. The IMAP protocol only supports email. EAS is designed to enable a great over-the-air companion experience to Outlook and OWA and supports many facets of Exchange beyond email, including:

EAS enables a great OTA experience as long as you sign the licensing agreements. Who here trusts anything from a Microsoft team that has anything to do with Windows as far as you can throw them? That's what I thought. However, this is also a bit disingenuous. IMAP is not an end - all and be - all protocol. It is designed to do one thing: Deliver email from an MTA to an MUA. That's it. For that matter, EAS isn't any of that. It's designed to be a middleman between Exchange and EAS clients. It is more correct to say that EAS makes for easier delivery of Exchange data, because sister, if your server ain't Exchange, Kerio, or another server that's licensed EAS, you ain't doin' squat with that. However, the implication that sans EAS, you're cut off from all things but email is incorrect. There are current, or about to be current standards that handle this, and considering the updates Apple is making for Leopard, I'll go out on a limb and say that you'll see a Leopard-friendly update for the iPhone.
Contact synchronization - view, create and update contacts

Handled by LDAP for everyone else, not currently in iPhone, but not unique to EAS.
Calendar synchronization - view, create & update appointments, schedule meetings, and accept/decline/propose new time for meeting requests

CalDAV, almost done, not currently in iPhone, but not unique to EAS.
Global Address List (GAL) lookup - look-up users in your corporate directory

Tasks synchronization

Out-of-office (OOF) email responses - turn on/off and change the OOF message directly from your mobile phone

Handled by a boot to the head...sorry. This is a server - specific implementation, and EAS's won't work with anything but Exchange. OOF's are the stupid's work, and a sign that you think you're far more important than you really are.
Access to documents stored in Sharepoint document libraries and UNC shares

WebDAV and SMB, and what the fuck does this have to do with groupware? Wait, nevermind, it's Microsoft. I'm sure they can come up with a way to tie Halo 3 into this shit. Nonetheless, this has fuck-all to do with either IMAP or anything else vaguely on-topic unless you're a Microsoft PM.
Search your entire mailbox on the server regardless of what's cached on the mobile phone

BAAAHAHAHAAHAHAHA...wait, IMAP doesn't allow you to search the server store separately from the client cache? Wow, Exchange/Outlook's piss-poor IMAP performance makes sense now: The devs behind them don't know the friggin' protocol specs. I suggest they take a look at a Microsoft product that actually gives a rat's ass about IMAP, namely Entourage, talk to the E'rage team, and learn what IMAP actually does. See, this is what happens when you really want to rag on the iPhone, but are pretending to rag on IMAP. Focus guys, I know Microsoft has no clue about what "focus" means, but go look at your own dictionary, it'd be a start.
Allowing users to manage their mobile device(s) using OWA - see device activity, help retrieve forgotten PIN, remotely wipe lost device, etc

How about some versions in there guys? Somehow, I don't think you're doing this with older versions of Exchange or WM. But again, none of this has anything to do with IMAP. See, this is what happens when your brain is replaced by a wonky hard drive running Vista Ultimate. You can't stay on bloody topic. Half of what you're on about has nothing to do with IMAP. It's like bitching a Ferrari can't out-dive the Alvin, so therefore, it's a crappy submarine.
EAS and IMAP both secure data on the network; EAS also protects data once it's on the device

Repeat after me until you get it: "IMAP is an email protocol, and only an email protocol. It has nothing to do with client device management. Email is not whatever I want it to be, and no matter how brainwashed I am by my Young Frankensteinish Overlord, bullshit doesn't change reality".
Microsoft Exchange does have IMAP support that provides for an adequate email experience. The iPhone can access email via IMAP if the IT department has enabled IMAP connectivity for users. However, IMAP has limitations from both an IT and user standpoint with respect to security and richness of experience that prevent it from being a complete solution for mobile device access to Microsoft Exchange.

"We are so brainwashed that we'd believe anything if the sender of the email's last name is Ballmer" Go back to the chant guys, you're huffing the Flavor-Aid at this point.

Christ, if this is what passes for analysis on the Exchange team, no wonder Exchange sucks.
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