Hidden in Microsoft’s announcements last month, Windows Live Mail (WLM) has been given a death sentence. WLM is very widely used as a desktop client for Outlook.com (nee Hotmail) among other services because it allows automatic synchronisation of contacts and calendars, something competing clients like Thunderbird (without add-ons, and often with them…) struggle with. Windows Live Mail has been popular because it links fairly seamlessly to outlook.com using Microsoft’s proprietary Deltasync protocol. The latter was used also in the ‘Hotmail connector’ add-on for Outlook 2010. So WLM, desktop Outlook, webmail Outlook.com could all chat happily with each other via the server-based Outlook.com service. Calendars and contacts and email distribution lists as well as email all flow from one to the other. But Mr Microsoft has had other ideas. By the end of 2015, Outlook.com accounts are planned to be moved to Microsoft’s Office 365 platform whose mail, calendar and contacts (etc) service is Exchange Server. Windows Live Mail does not (and will not) link to Exchange Server using Exchange Server’s native protocol (Extended MAPI/RPC over HTTPS). When Outlook 2013 was released, users found that the Hotmail connector had been quietly removed and replaced by EAS. EAS is a special Exchange Server protocol developed for linking to mobiles over slower-speed links. Its mail synchronisation mechanism for mobiles is fine: it supports among other things Blackberry-style ‘push’ synchronisation, and it works a bit like IMAP but is more efficient, more reliable and has much more functionality. But EAS uses Simple MAPI (not Extended MAPI) and does not support certain features which Deltasync does support: in particular the synchronisation of email contact distribution lists (a.k.a. Contact Groups). So anyone who happily used Outlook 2010 to link to outlook.com and then upgraded Outlook 2013 suddenly found that their outlook.com contact groups had vanished; they were still on Outlook.com but were not passed to Outlook. Outlook 2010 and 2013 do, however, also support Extended MAPI: linking to business-based Exchange Servers is what Outlook was built for. What does all this mean after the ‘move’? If you are an Outlook.com user and you use just POP3, IMAP or EAS accounts in any client or you use Outlook.com webmail, everything should continue to work, whether on desktops or mobiles. If you use Outlook 2010 with the Hotmail connector (whether for mail or just to synch your calendar and contacts), the link to Outlook.com will fail. If you use Outlook 2013 with EAS, it should continue to work but you may have already noticed that contact distribution list synching doesn’t happen. But you should receive an email from Microsoft telling you how set up an Exchange Server (i.e. Extended MAPI/RPC) account which will link to the ‘moved’ outlook.com. The Windows Mail app for Windows 8 and 10 supports IMAP and EAS but not Extended MAPI, so if you are currently using it to link to Outlook.com, nothing should change, but you won’t have access to the full feature set of Exchange Server. That’s the theory today. Tomorrow it may be different!
Zen from May 17. PN Business account from 2004 - 2017