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10/9/2011
10:12 PM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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Windows Phone Mango Doesn't Play Well With Exchange 2003

If you have Exchange 2003, you will discover that the Windows Phone 7 update breaks some features relating to email.

With any upgrade comes the risk of breaking something, and Windows Phone 7's recent mammoth update named Mango is no exception. There are several features in the original release that were removed intentionally in Mango. Others were inadvertent, but two issues are perplexing. Users running Mango are no longer able to properly reply or forward emails without the text of original message getting thrown into an attachment or lost completely.

In order to save bandwidth, when you reply to a message on a phone using Exchange ActiveSync, the only thing that gets sent to the server is the actual text you are replying with. The server intelligently takes the rest of the message and attaches it before sending it on its way to the recipient. Back in the days of 2G networks, this was a time saver. Today it isn't as big of a deal from a speed standpoint, but it does save bandwidth, which helps users that don't have unlimited plans, especially those that are on the lower end 200-MB monthly plans.

The server ActiveSync component was added to Exchange 2003. Microsoft began licensing the client to others and before long, PalmOS and Symbian had it. Apple also supports it in iOS as does Android. It is the de facto way for mobile email clients to connect to corporate servers, as well as Gmail and Hotmail. Blackberry has been the only holdout, though it's QNX version later this year will support the mobile protocol.

It is unconscionable then that Mango breaks this functionality with Exchange 2003. Yes, Exchange 2003 is an older version that has been superceded by 2007 and 2010 versions, but the simple fact is, 2003 works just fine for many organizations. Upgrading Exchange isn't like upgrading Office. There are Active Directory considerations, and you may have to upgrade the underlying server. Add to this that few enterprises do an in-place upgrade, instead doing a swing upgrade where you install a new server and copy of Exchange, then migrate the data over, and decommission the original server. This is time consuming and costly. Whatever the reasons, there are a lot of 2003 installations still in use today.

WP Central has the details on what happens when you reply or forward a message on a Mango phone. When you reply, the only thing the recipient sees is your text. The rest of the conversation is dropped. Replying with a "Yes, I'll get right on it" can be met with confusion or bewilderment since the reader has no context of what you are referring to without digging into their Sent Items folder to see what they asked you in the first place.

Forwarded messages are a bit better, but not much. The recipient of a forwarded message will see your comments and then have a .EML attachment they have to open. If they have Outlook, it will open up without an issue. If they are in another organization, though, and are using Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Lotus Notes, some POP3 client, or any number of mobile devices, they may have problems opening it.

It is surprising this would make it past Microsoft's testing. There are nearly 150 users that have registered with the Windows Phone suggestion site to have this issue fixed.

Note that the latest versions of iOS and Android do not have this issue. It will be interesting to see what Microsoft's response to this is. Issuing a patch to Mango will take time, but if the company decides to address it, that will be the likely course of action. I doubt anyone wants to crack open the code to Exchange 2003 and patch there, especially when there is a risk of breaking other clients.

If you have Exchange 2003 and Windows Phone 7, be aware of this before the upgrade, and you might want to register on the suggestion site noted above and make your vote heard on this issue.

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UberGoober
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UberGoober,
User Rank: Strategist
10/11/2011 | 5:39:41 PM
re: Windows Phone Mango Doesn't Play Well With Exchange 2003
If you're using Exchange 2003 (we are) M$ hasn't made any money off your email in 5 or more years. I'm not surprised this happened, and I won't be surprised if it isn't fixed. M$ isn't a primarily a software company, they are a money-making company that makes software. Nothing wrong with that, but you shouldn't be under any illusions that they care much about customers that don't regularly infuse them with cash.
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