Mobile Device Connectivity to Exchange using IMAP vs Exchange ActiveSync

There has been a lot of speculation about the iPhone and its abilities to connect to Microsoft Exchange Server. For instance, Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg mentions in his June 26 All Things Digital column that, "It [the iPhone] can also handle corporate email using Microsoft's Exchange system, if your IT department cooperates by enabling a setting on the server."

Technically this is correct, as today iPhone users can connect to Microsoft Exchange using IMAP.  There are, however, some significant differences in the mobile device experience and IT professional capabilities supported by IMAP on the iPhone and those enabled by Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) for compatible devices.  EAS is a protocol that provides rich messaging experiences for over 200 different smartphones right out of the box.  These smartphones include Windows Mobile devices as well as phones from a broad range of 3rd parties including Helio, Motorola, Nokia, Palm, Sony Ericsson and others.

Comparing IMAP and EAS at a high level: IMAP provides an adequate mobile email experience (but is subject to some important limitations), whereas EAS provides a more secure, complete companion experience to Outlook and Outlook Web Access (OWA) for the mobile device.  To better understand this comparison, let's look at IMAP on the iPhone and EAS in a bit more detail from several perspectives:

  1. Mobile email
  2. The mobile experience beyond email
  3. Security

IMAP enables an adequate mobile email experience; EAS enables the additional pieces that make mobile email great

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).

EAS also supports capabilities for:

  • Direct Push, which provides an up-to-date messaging experience designed for mobile networks
  • Email flagging to improve the triage experience on the device
  • AutoDiscover to simplify the process of setting up a new device over-the-air
  • 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)
  • Numerous bandwidth optimizations to reduce data charges and improve battery life

EAS enables a rich collaboration experience beyond email

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:

  • Contact synchronization - view, create and update contacts
  • Calendar synchronization - view, create & update appointments, schedule meetings, and accept/decline/propose new time for meeting requests
  • 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
  • Access to documents stored in Sharepoint document libraries and UNC shares
  • Search your entire mailbox on the server regardless of what's cached on the mobile phone
  • Allowing users to manage their mobile device(s) using OWA - see device activity, help retrieve forgotten PIN, remotely wipe lost device, etc

EAS and IMAP both secure data on the network; EAS also protects data once it's on the device

From an IT department's perspective, this is a highly important distinction between IMAP and EAS. 

Both IMAP and EAS allow IT to ensure data and credentials are protected on the network by encrypting them via SSL.   

Many IT departments require support for additional security measures to protect data on the device as well (not just over the network) to guard against loss or theft before they are willing to let users connect to Exchange from the Internet using a given protocol.  Only EAS addresses this requirement by enabling IT to implement and enforce security policies that protect the data once it's on the device. There are a number of these policies supported by EAS today and we continue to add more, some key examples are:

  • Requiring a PIN lock on the device

    • IT also has a number of controls dictating the strength of the PIN, timeout, etc. as well as the ability to recover forgotten PINs

  • Local and Remote Wipe

    • IT can require that the device erases all data (including data on the SD card) in the event that (1) the PIN is incorrectly entered an IT-specified number of times or (2) IT or the user issues a remote wipe command from the admin console or OWA.

  • Blocking attachment download to the device
  • Limiting which Sharepoint libraries / UNC shares the user can access

Because IMAP does not support these security policies, many IT departments have decided not to enable mobile device (or any Internet client) access to email via IMAP. EAS on the other hand is seeing increasingly broad adoption by IT departments.


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. 

Exchange ActiveSync on the other hand provides a very rich email and collaboration experience for end-users as well as support for the important security measures needed for IT.



Exchange ActiveSync


IMAP client for iPhone


Push Email


Yes (through IDLE command)

No – pull email only

HTML email formatting




Attachment download



Yes (view only)






Calendar Sync




Accept/Decline meeting requests





Contact Sync




Global Address List (GAL) lookup





Task Sync




Out of Office

Out-of-office (OOF) email settings




Document Access

Fileshare (SMB) and/or Sharepoint Document Library Access





Enforce security policies to protect data on device




* All were tested using Exchange Server 2007

- Paul Limont

Comments (63)
  1. John C. Welch says:

    Well, if you guys would get on the CalDAV team, and help make a better open calendaring et al standard, then life would be easier for everyone wanting to talk to Exchange, instead of just those willing to sign agreements with Microsoft.

  2. Lukas Beeler says:

    The most precise information i’ve found so far about the iPhone and Exchange.

    This makes it quite clear that Apple doesn’t target the professional market with the iPhone.

    I’m still waiting for some cool WM6 devices to hit the european market. But right now, i’m still content with my HTC MTeoR (WM5+MSFP).

  3. mike says:

    Apple should license ActiveSync (like various rumors have suggested).

  4. Chris Lehr says:

    I want to see the IMAP on iPhone column clearly teased in that chart.

  5. Vermyndax says:

    Hey, great!  Thanks for the marketing speak.  Whew, I was wondering when you guys were going to come back and sip the Kool-Aid… there was just way too much "useful tech" in here until this post.  Glad you brought us back to the Microsoft we know and love, whew!

    I echo Mr. Welch.  Join the CalDAV standards group and do something good with your software instead of reinventing the wheel (over and over) and making it square when used with others.  It’s 2007 folks – the proprietary stuff is getting old.

  6. Mike Levin of HitTail says:

    I bought an iPhone, and am patiently waiting for some way to sync with Exchange. OTA would be best, but almost anything will do in the short term. I’m experimenting with Plaxo on multiple machines, but it’s syncing with Exchange is flaky. So far, I had to uninstall it 3 times. It’s silly to distinguish phones like iPhone between business and personal these days. Aren’t they all both?

  7. Chris Williams says:

    I really don’t care about ActiveSync, because it’s not supported on my iPhone.  Given the choice between a WM device with ActiveSync and an iPhone using IMAP, I’m all over that iPhone choice.  But thanks for telling me how great everything is on devices that don’t matter.

  8. Robert Studer says:

    Hey IPhoner’s…The business world runs on Microsoft, get over it and get back to designing really cool Quicktime movies for me to browse on break.

  9. Brian Hayden says:

    Literally every single knock against using IMAP in this article is purely a lie.

    For example: No, IMAP does not support all of those security measures such as remote wipe. Obviously, because those are outside the scope of email. They can be accomplished via other means, so this is nothing more than the usual technically-true-but-absolute-lie-in-real-terms. Way to go!

    IMAP also supports synch of any type of data, literally, that can exist on your computer. It synchs any arbitrary files. The fact that so many alleged "IT Professionals" haven’t realized this is bizarre and revealing.

  10. Harper Lieblich says:

    It’s garbage like this that’s the reason for Microsoft no longer being relevant on the web. And just when I thought that they where getting turned around with the new Surface computer.

  11. Sven Sewitz says:

    If Exchange is so awesome (and I’m sure it is), then why don’t you build a bridge to the iPhone.

  12. LondonGareth says:

    But there is the problem. Most "IT Professionals" are not actually "IT Professionals", they are just Microsoft junkies. All they know is Microsoft, and plugging various Microsoft systems together (or, trying to, anyway). To be an "IT Professional" you would actually have to have a solid understanding of protocols, and their capabilities.

  13. John Moltz says:

    IMAP does not provide an interface for me to put a backdrop of pretty kitties into my emails.  Exchange does.  Exchange wins!

  14. Josh Monroe says:

    Agreed, Most IT staff don’t really know much about technology.  A Microsoft Rep. comes in and tells them what they think they need and they buy it.  A Cisco Rep. Comes in and repeats.  Although, Cisco is not quite as bad as Microsoft yet.

  15. Josh Monroe says:

    John Moltz has just changed my mind.  EAS is better.  I am changing my settings now.

  16. christor says:

    "EAS is a protocol that provides rich messaging experiences for over 200 different smartphones right out of the box.  These smartphones include Windows Mobile devices as well as phones from a broad range of 3rd parties including Helio, Motorola, Nokia, Palm, Sony Ericsson and others."  And Microsoft is enriched by the sales of all of them.  Those saying that Apple should license ActiveSync need to explain why Microsoft deserves any piece of the iPhone pie.  Is it because they somehow deserve a premium for their work on Exchange?  Yes, all those features may sound nice (though when I’ve been forced to use an Outlook/Exchange system, I’ve been underwhelmed – the client, at least pre-Vista when I was forced to use it, was decidedly mediocre-ware), but a company building email servers in a truly competitive market would be working to create compatibility with the iPhone out of the gate.  

    Microsoft’s only advantage is that, because they managed to lock many, many businesses into Exchange back when their hegemony on the desktop was taken for granted, they are still in a position to exert some control over the devices and software people in those (unfortunate) businesses use to read their email.  But many people are beginning to awaken to the idea that they can ask for more from their software than whatever garbage MS, and by extension their IT department, sees fit to shovel to them.  

    Adoption of Apple’s innovative client will drive demand for compatibility from IT departments.  If MS cannot deliver server products that offer all the "features" you say are so important in a way that’s compatible with new clients without licensing, someone will.  And guess what – this time people might actually adopt it.  See iPods.  (And don’t even bother arguing that the vertical integration there is anything like the mess you’ve created with Exchange.  It’s content producers who insisted on the DRM "lock-in."  As soon as they, as some have already, relent, DRM’s removed.)  Upshot: try competing on quality – for once.  While Apple might indeed license EAS this time, bowing to the extant but waning stranglehold MS still has on the enterprise, it’s a rent that won’t keep coming.

  17. James Grinter says:

    Did RIM (Blackberry) license EAS? How has that affected take-up of their product within the ‘Enterprise’?

  18. Stylograph says:

    sure, when a company like microsoft unrelentingly and successfully alters the very definition of what *email* is to the corporate enterprise yes, standards like IMAP do not hold up very well to the bastardized mutation, do they?


  19. Christian says:

    I’m not going to take a party line here, but you’re wildly out of line to suggest that Exchange is just de facto better because EAS is one solution to a problem that has more elegant and less constraining (from a licensing perspective) solutions. You produce a proprietary communications platform that’s wildly complicated and only works with one company’s products; that’s not much of a feature to be touting.

  20. Brent Royal-Gordon says:

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

    Of course, the Push-IMAP standard adds push support to IMAP, but Microsoft doesn’t support it.  (As far as I know, the iPhone does.  Can’t you get Push-IMAP from Yahoo?)

    "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)"

    But the iPhone does, so this is a moot point.

    "Numerous bandwidth optimizations to reduce data charges and improve battery life"

    iPhones always have unlimited data accounts and one of the longest battery lives available in a smart phone.  Apparently Apple doesn’t need the help.

    "Contact synchronization, Calendar synchronization, Tasks synchronization"

    From what I’ve heard, this is very buggy; in the real world, users typically have to wipe all the information on their phone about once a month and reload it because of sync problems.  Instead, Apple decided to only synchronize calendar data while physically plugged into a PC that can make intelligent decisions about what to put where.  Looks worse on paper, but better user experience.

    "Access to documents stored in Sharepoint document libraries and UNC shares"

    I don’t know much about SharePoint, but it looks like it has a web interface.  Mobile Safari ought to be able to use that over a VPN.  (And if not, whose fault is it that it doesn’t?)

    "Many IT departments require support for additional security measures to protect data on the device as well (not just over the network) to guard against loss or theft before they are willing to let users connect to Exchange from the Internet using a given protocol.  Only EAS addresses this requirement by enabling IT to implement and enforce security policies that protect the data once it’s on the device."

    There’s no reason a phone such the iPhone couldn’t be designed to allow remote wiping by contacting the carrier, or that IT can’t set up a PIN before issuing the device.  They just can’t be quite as paranoid about it.

    Frankly, this post looks an awful lot like FUD when so much of it is misleading or just false.  Try competing against the actual iPhone, not a fantasyland crippled one.

  21. Simon Willison says:

    Please, please stop abusing the word "experience". That goes for the rest of the industry, too.

  22. Joshua Emmons says:

    Wow. It looks as though people are starting to think of Exchange as being irrelevant. Microsoft better hurry and bribe some bloggers to talk about how great it is.

  23. Hash says:


    Was this supposed to be an IMAP comparison article written by an MS Exchange team, or an (anti) iPhone FUD piece written by Ballmer?

    "The IMAP protocol only supports email"

    Wow!  I am speechless.

    Step 1.  Read the definition of IMAP on

    It’s a MESSAGING protocol!  

    In other news, EAS doesn’t do my laundry.  

  24. Rosyna says:

    I am not as against this article as some others may be. But I do wonder, why was only IMAP compared? Why wasn’t it WM6 Pro’s Exchange support vs the features the iPhone supports that are equiv (like Contact sync, Calendar sync, et cetera). Why only focus narrowly on IMAP, which is clearly not designed to be anything but email?

  25. Miles Holt says:

    This is nice and all, but when are you going to fix the Exchange 2007 IMAP server to play nice with on 10.4 systems and with Thunderbird? Considering I get the same errors in both, I doubt it is a bug with the clients.

    I LIKE exchange far more than other mail systems including Zimbra and its ilk. I think having all the mail sitting in a DB is a much better way to go than it just sitting standalone in a filesystem. But I am also required to/like to support other client systems with functional standards support.

  26. TjL says:

    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…"

    continued at

  27. kael says:

    What an IMAP FUD !

    IMAP does support flagging and tagging ; cf.

    And we’re waiting – well, not really, though – for real IMAP capabilities for Exchange.

    The Exchange Team should read what the inventor of IMAP thinks of Exchange.

  28. blain says:

    This is a very good illustration of security: imap is designed to do email and only email. For calendar syncing, for example, caldav is used instead, in its own separate compartment. Of course, in a well-designed client, this is all seamless to the user.

    But behind the scenes, it makes for a very robust and secure design over a kitchen-sink approach. First, it allows each to be the best. Those working on imap can focus on making it solid, secure, and stable as an email protocol only. Those working on caldav can focus on making the calendar syncing be the best it can be, without issues of email support.

    Second, it isolates exploits. Suppose, for example, that both calendar-syncing programs had a buffer overflow that would allow for user-level random code execution.

    In the case of EAS, this would mean not only calendars would be exposed, but all the email, contacts, tasks, documents, would be also accessible, in the same compromised program. This would be a total disaster.

    With webdav+imap, not only would the other services be protected by the access control, but webdav wouldn’t even have a clue on where they could be located. So email would be safe. Contacts would be safe. Tasks would be safe. Documents would be safe. Not having all your eggs in one basket is a secure design pattern.

    Finally, having limited services reduces the exposed area on average. Recall that Code Red’s spread was fueled mostly by computers whose owners were unaware that IIS was running on their machines. Similarly, a calendar exploit allowing administrator-level code execution would likely affect all EAS servers, including those where the users don’t use the calendar aspect. Compare this to imap servers, who would mostly be unaffected, because only those needing calendar would turn on caldav.

    This is a very good illustration of the dangers of relying on a single source, giving a maginot-line illusion of security.

  29. William Woody says:

    In your table where you claim the iPhone does not support Push-IMAP, that’s technically incorrect. The iPhone does successfully support Push-IMAP; that is what Yahoo! is using to push e-mail to the device.

    That you cannot push e-mail from Exchange through IMAP onto the iPhone is because Exchange doesn’t support the draft P-IMAP protocol outlined at, not because the iPhone doesn’t support push.

  30. Dave Cridland says:

    Actually, I’m pleasantly surprised by this article – you’re quite right that IMAP ticks all the boxes you could describe as essential for mobile email, and you’re equally correct that the iPhone’s implementation is rapidly being uncovered as rather poor.

    A couple of things, though.

    As kael mentions, IMAP most certainly does support flagging of messages for triage and other reasons. It’s pretty well optimized for low bandwidth, too – bear in mind it was developed mostly over 2400 baud modems on very low-power machines.

    Of course, Lemonade (RFC 4550, the successor to abandoned P-IMAP) improves this even further, and there are more improvements coming, both in terms of featuresets and optimizations.

    And of course, it’s not intended as a monolithic protocol – Mark Crispin has rightly fought attempts to make it so (even mailbox management he’d have preferred to remove). So it’s certainly true that IMAP does not (and should not) perform all the kinds of access you’re describing, here.

    For example, my own – Lemonade compliant – client manages to roam its configuration across desktops, laptops, and handheld devices. It doesn’t do this through IMAP, but ACAP – the protocol specifically designed to do this. (So I also get access to my personal addressbooks on the move).

    One thing you definitely need to be called to task over is that the security behaviour on the device is *way* outside the scope of what IMAP supports. An IMAP client could quite easily be written to enforce a security policy it fetches over the wire, and an EAS client could also be written which ignores it.

    Overall, a surprisingly neutral article, though I’ll cheerfully challenge you to beat my bandwidth figures. :-)

  31. rdas7 says:

    "This makes it quite clear that Apple doesn’t target the professional market with the iPhone."

    ROFL. I assume you’re being sarcastic?

    This blog is another reason why Microsoft is irrelevant. Thanks for the hard work guys.

  32. Peter L says:

    I should be used to this, but I am still shocked at all the hate.  Apparently, to be a true IT professional, I am supposed to be either blindly love all things Microsoft (and therefore hate Apple and open source), or pick the other side and do the same thing in reverse.

    I love the iPhone, and bought my wife one a few days after they shipped.  I really want one for myself, but for my business work-flow, I absolutely have to integrate with Exchange.  I happen to like the features that Exchange provides, but it doesn’t really matter what I think, because my company likes it, and it is our internal standard.

    I don’t really care if the iPhone syncs with Exchange using ActiveSync, or IMAP, or some new magic Apple pixie dust.  The day that the iPhone provides me the same rich, over-the-air, full-featured access to my company’s Exchange server as I get with with Blackberry, I will run to the Apple store with cash in my hand.

    I hate my Blackberry, but I would suffer a massive loss of productivity without it.  And the features that I need from any replacement are pretty well listed in this article.  We can hate Microsoft all we want, but for my needs, there is not much to hate on this list.

  33. kael says:

    Oh, and I forgot.

    It is possible to use IMAP for PIM features as Kolab demonstrates it :

    "The special idea behind Kolab is the usage of IMAP as an underlying protocol not only for email, but also for contact and calendar entries. These entries are simply saved in special IMAP-folders utilising the Kolab XML-format and the IMAP-server takes care of the storage and access rights".

    See also

    "Kolab stores many resources in IMAP e-mail folders including calendar events, To-Do items, journal entries and notes".

  34. Toby says:

    It’s always nice to have public proof you guys have no clue what you’re talking about…

  35. Justin Bell says:

    "EAS enables a rich collaboration experience beyond email"

    But who cares? There are other technologies for those things already. Unless the point here is that you think monolithic architecture is better in these situations?

    I ‘m glad you’re not a DBA.

  36. David says:

    I thought phones where made to talk on, not to tie you down to work everywhere you go. You guys need to get a life!

  37. lee says:

    Wow, this thread is impressive.  I’ll admit that I’m not accustomed to seeing the official posts on this site being so filled with marketing speak as this one, but I’m more amazed at the responses.  Not since the Netware days have I seen so much technology-bigot talk.  It become fairly apparent that most of these responses come from people so deeply entrenched in technology that they can’t actually see the business needs that they are employed to fulfill.

    Nothing is ever this black and white and neither of these technologies is the be all/end all for the business world.  They are simply tools that each company has to decide on the benefit of before deciding to deploy.  E-mail and collaboration have huge benifits to business.  At the moment, IMHO, the iPhone is more hype than tool at the moment, but I know that will change as people adapt to it to business environments.  It has huge potential for business use, but at the moment it’s not nearly as cost effective as other solutions.  That will change, however.

    The solutions I deploy don’t have to be the most pure choice available, they have to be the best solution for the business for the cost, regardless of vendor.

  38. Van says:

    "The day that the iPhone provides me the same rich, over-the-air, full-featured access to my company’s Exchange server as I get with with Blackberry, I will run to the Apple store with cash in my hand. "

    That’s nice, I personally prefer relaxing and not thinking about work when I’m out of the office, but have fun being chained to Exchange.

  39. Gideon says:


    There is a whole world out there people. UNPLUG AND GET OUT THERE.

    And the iPhone is nice, but over hyped. BANNED at my company thank you very much?

    Why? Not because the IMAP issue. But the camera. HAHAHAH. Nice.

  40. mike says:

    This post is more like an ‘advertorial’. Seeing the reactions, I think the readers deserve a second post to answer some questions raised or counter some arguments.

    Here’s my argument: open standards are better for everyone (except Microsoft) Imagine if the iPhone could not work with websites hosted on IIS because Apple didn’t want to license a proprietary HTTP alternative Microsoft protocol? That would be ridiculous, right? The reason you people have a succesful weblog and we can post our reactions is partly due to open standards and interoperability.

  41. Jack says:

    Van, stop and think for a minute before posting…

    Maybe some are WORKING outside their office. Maybe?

    Clearly most people complaining about Exchange and ActiveSync have not really used it.

    I sync my Windows Mobile to an Exchange Server and have been doing that for many years. It works REALLY REALLY well.

  42. Chris Williams says:

    Thinking back since my first post, and reading these comments, one thing struck me:

    A smart marketer would think something like: "Gee, that iPhone is getting a lot of hype.  How can I get some of that magic pixie dust to fall on my product?"  And then they’d go off and write a blog post along the lines of "How Exchange 2007 is the best server choice for the iPhone."

    A not-so-smart marketer?  Well, they’d write something along the lines of the above.  And in the process alienate between 500,000 and 700,000 people who just spent $500+ of their own money by telling them what a bad choice they’ve made.  

    Oh, and you think those people aren’t important because they aren’t IT managers or Exchange administrators?  Mistake #2.

  43. ryan says:

    The article wasn’t a comparison of WM6 to iPhone, it was a discussion of what experience you would have using a WM device or another device that licensed EAS with that of the experience connecting an iPhone to Exchange.

    Many businesses today use Exchange.  If you want the rich mobile exchange experience, iPhone will not give you that today.  No amount of complaining about how Exchange doesn’t support IMAP the way you want it to will change that.  If you have Exchange and you need Exchange for business reasons, the iPhone isn’t for you or you must be willing to accept more limited capabilities than your peers with EAS capable phones.

  44. sandeep says:

    Peter L,

    I actually don’t see much vitriol in the comments. It looks like people have dismantled your marketing-speaque and you are upset about it.

    How about answering some of the genuine concerns that people have about getting Exchange to work better with the iPhone. You are after all, all about serving the customers, not just extending your hegemony, correct?

    For instance, why don’t you begin by answering the following questions:

    1. When is Exchange going to support Push-IMAP. iPhone already supports this.

    2. What is your roadmap for support of CalDAV.

    3. What is your roadmap/time frame to support RFC 4550?

    4. When are you going to improve LDAP support and provide GAL thru LDAP?

    As you said:

    "I love the iPhone, and bought my wife one a few days after they shipped.  I really want one for myself, but for my business work-flow, I absolutely have to integrate with Exchange.  I happen to like the features that Exchange provides, but it doesn’t really matter what I think, because my company likes it, and it is our internal standard. "

    Clearly, you have an itch that needs to be scratched since you indicate that you "love" the iPhone. Why don’t you tell us about what you are doing to scratch this itch?

  45. Van says:


    "Van, stop and think for a minute before posting…

    Maybe some are WORKING outside their office. Maybe?"

    The iPhone isn’t marketed to the crackberry/windows mobile crowd, i.e. real estate agents. I don’t see why everyone finds exchange connectivity on it to be so damn important anyway since there are a bunch of other capabilities it doesn’t have that business users seem to clamor for, i.e. being able to edit documents on the move (though  Excel on a 3" screen is probably not something I’d want to use). Honestly this iPhone/exchange thing is just a bunch of pundits looking for more pageviews, because the rest of the world that’s actually going out and buying iphones doesn’t seem to care about Microsoft that much in the first place.

  46. Todd Smith says:

    Here’s my take. Exchange is a Microsoft server product. All of the apple junkies have always thought the world should revolve around them, the apple to PC ratio in every business I have consulted in is about 1 apple for every 60 PCs. Apple does have a great product, but is extremely arrogant to think Microsoft should re-invent the wheel every time a new product comes out. Microsoft, although a large corporate juggernaut, does drive innovation from other companies. Maybe, just maybe, Apple should come up with a new protocol to plug in to Exchange with the iPhone.

    I am not stating that apple has no place in the business world, simply that if they want to play with the big boys, they better do more than produce a pretty phone.

    To all apple fans out there, Novell/Ximian/Whatever they call themselves nowadays have developed software that works with exchange over webDAV, they didn’t license from microsoft or demand change, they simply stop whining and created something. Apple is no small company and could easily pull it off. So instead of complaining about Microsoft, why don’t you complain to apple? You have a better chance of getting what you want.

  47. CEO /// reklambolaget A till Ö says:

    We have kicked out exchange and use Apple X-server and IMAP for all our users. Open standards, and easy to use. We have also no more windows. We have cut our IT-budget with 47%. Apples Mac OS X is mutch more inexpensiv to run.

  48. Truth says:

    Wow, how insane.  The anti-MS RDF is strong here.

    Every single person who said, "IMAP4 is e-mail, not calendar" misses the point.  You have no idea at all how real enterprise calendaring works.  Notes, Groupwise, Exchange – all use e-mail messages and stores to handle calendar messages and information.  Either you know that, or you’re unqualified to talk to this subject.  Go away.

    Every person who says "CalDAV", go away.  Exchange was there first.  It’s been doing shared calendaring for A DECADE.  Just because a few whiny people don’t like the way it does it, doesn’t mean Microsoft has any reason to care.   The only company of any size and any relevance at all who does care in fact is Apple.  (Don’t believe me?  Too bad.  Your belief does not change reality.)

    Every person saying, "Security doesn’t belong here," go away.  Maybe you never have anything in your internal corporate e-mail that you can’t share, or maybe you’re unemployed.  In the former case, you’re lying or don’t do anything in your company, and in the latter case, good luck with your purchase of a phone with a $2,000 TCO (including data plan for 2 year contract).

    Every single BlackBerry user in the world – and there are more of them than there are iPhone owners, and more of them then ever will be iPhone owners, by many times over – know that basic e-mail over IMAP is not enough.  E-mail is part of enterprise groupware – pretending it’s "just e-mail" misses reality.

    So, it’s simple – can the iPhone access the GAL?  No!  (And don’t claim that it’s because there’s no LDAP in an Exchange implementation or that it doesn’t work – it’s been there for over a decade, and plenty of other products work just fine with it.)  Can the iPhone access my calendar OTA, like other products including non-Microsoft products?  No!  These are features that it was on Apple to get right.  It’s not up to Microsoft to change their functionality to make Apple’s godawful crapfest of a mail/calendar solution work.  Apple is the newcomer here.  It’s arrogant and moronic to blame Microsoft for Apple’s inability to do what a large number of other phone suppliers can do.  Apple has failed to do what they needed to do.

    If you have an iPhone, and don’t care about calendaring or a corporate address book or deleting more than one message at a time (!!), then great, I’m very happy for you.  Enjoy web browsing on the EDGE network.  Enjoy delaing with spam one…message…at…a…time.  Enjoy using your own little calendar that no one else can see.  Enjoy adding your addresses one at a time for all of your customers, friends, clients, whatever.  

    I meanwhile have work to do and a life to live, and the iPhone doesn’t help with either of those.

  49. Duncan says:

    Dear person hiding behind the name ‘Truth’:

    Can you be our VP of marketing?

    Because we want to run ourselves out of business and can’t think of a quicker way to do so than to hire someone like you.

  50. Aether says:

    Do I *want* SMB service and task synching through the email client on my phone? Is that an advantage to me? I seem to recall other applications to fill that need.

  51. Mark says:

    Just have a question, Why does the IPhone want call it "Exchange" setup?  Should it be IMAP/SMTP email account setup as it actually does?

    Think about it…

  52. Victor says:

    So, does anyone have their iPhone working with Exchange yet (not to mention configuring firewalls, front end Exchange servers, etc), or is there just going to be more (and more) opinions posted?

  53. Brian says:

    The amount of Apple fanboyism on this article is amazing.

    I use IMAP. I like IMAP. With a decent client (Thunderbird), it does a pretty good job at handling email.

    It is not, nor has it ever been, serious competition for Exchange/Outlook. If you don’t work someplace that needs groupware, you don’t understand. That’s OK. But at any large (or even medium) business, it’s impossible to get anything done without groupware.

    How do you schedule a meeting with 10 people? How do you find a time when everyone is available? How do you know who’s going to attend? How do you keep on top of all of the things you have to do?

    This is the RDF at it’s best. iPhone doesn’t support 3rd-party apps? They weren’t important anyway. Shared calendars? Who needs them! IMAP IDLE? No, we should all use the draft Push-IMAP standard that was deprecated in favor of LEMONADE!

    DirectPush just works. There aren’t five servers to configure. You don’t need separate software to enforce security settings. Like BlackBerry, it’s a fully integrated system that requires very little babysitting. Unlike Blackberry, it doesn’t have a central point of failure.

    DirectPush means that I can sleep an extra hour when my manager cancels the weekly status meeting. DirectPush means that I don’t ask stupid questions that were already answered in an email I just received. DirectPush means that I can set reminders on my desktop and they just show up on my phone. It means that my contacts are backed up, automatically and transparently.

    Millions of people use BlackBerrys or DirectPush. They’re going to continue to do so until Apple realizes that it’s about more than just email.

  54. @Brian:  Apple doesnt care.  Mobile messaging is about more than just business.  Not everyone needs a full-featured collaboration solution, but most non-techies need a useable solution.  What the iPhone offers is simplicity.  It’s not a business devices and that probably makes it a more useful solution to more people.

    All of the muddle that goes into the typical business solution makes it about as easy to use as the average 10-person business meeting is productive.  IMO, messaging and "collaboration" has become the scourge of productivity and is now the biggest distraction in the workplace.  Think of "full featured" in terms of diminished capacity and the iPhone’s offering in terms of useful simplicity.

  55. audrie says:

    I used them all: windows mobile, palm and the blackberry before I purchased my first Apple product: the iphone.  AND I loved the Blackberry just for PUSH:  It was perfect for pushing email and calendar enteries (that I could Accept/Reject ON THE PHONE) – and it often beat the normal email system in getting stuff to me.

    However, I was leashed to my job – not only during business travel but also at home in front of the TV.  I know that some people need that level of attachment to email and calendar apps – but honestly I don’t.  I thought I did – in fact a year ago I would have told you it was MANDATORY….but in hind sight….Life is much more important (which includes the multi-media I love like music, video, and audiobooks for train, bus, and plane travel).  The iPhone interface adds to the fun of off-hours….if that is weird – then I’m weird.  All of us have to balance work, gadgets, and human family and friend time.  Sometimes both Microsoft and Apple seem to be on opposing ends of the scales – neither truly balanced in their approach.  I suggest that anyone who thinks they must be attached to the exchange server by the hip – double check that you’re not fooling yourself….cause it can get unhealthy. Of course, I’m not talking to doctors or those that have jobs that require them to travel for business often.–which is NOT the MAJORITY of the business population.]

    ANYWAY, I’d be happy with SYNC-ing to the office email.  Back when I had an IPAQ – I could sync email – incoming and outgoing.  Is this possible with iphone and exchange server?  Has anyone gotten that far?  Can the anyone post a message that explains how to do that?

  56. jzfunk says:

    why can’t we all just get along?

    all technology has it s place.. use what u need to get the job done.

  57. Hodad says:

    Look, people, the bottom line is not whether true IT professionals should know more technology than what Microsoft provides; the bottom line is security.  The more protocols I enable, the more ports I open on my firewall, the more avenues there are to exploit my system.  Why would I want to use IMAP unless I have to?

    Now, since everyone is a contrarian, since everyone has to be a wiseguy, you may now proceed to tear what I just said to shreds without spending one minute thinking about it.

    ps  iPhones are gay

  58. Nikolay Shopik says:

    Hi guys, nice article but I would really like to see RAW capabilites as for exchange 2003 they are: NAMESPACE AUTH=CRAM-MD5 IDLE STARTTLS LOGINDISABLED ACL UNSELECT UIDPLUS.

    What about implementation in exchange 2007, something new added?

  59. terry says:

    How do you setup Iphone to work with SBS 2003 SP2?  I must have tried over 20 different configs, but none of them work.  And I am MCSE certified, maybe I need my grand children to show me how.  Any help is Greatly appreciated.

  60. Dorian Mattar says:

    The iPhone is a brand new product and it’s the FIRST time Apple creates a phone so their priorities are completely out of sync – no pun intended – with everyones wishes here.

    Apple will first roll the iphone world wide, then they will start updating all the new features like voice dialing and whatever, and finally if everything is working right, will start moving into the corporate world.

    The iPHone is first of all a consumer phone.  People love the phone so much that they want to use it for more than that, and that’s fine, but it will be a bumpy ride until Apple is ready to move into the enterprise.

    That might be sooner than later if Leopard moves in that direction.

    P.S. to Mr. Truth, can you please stop the duplication of contacts on my bosses TREO Win based phone?  Cause no one around here seems to be able to.  So for a business doing the same thing for 10 years, it sure looks like a second rate product.

  61. Dorian Mattar says:

    "If you have an iPhone, and don’t care about calendaring or a corporate address book or deleting more than one message at a time (!!), then great, I’m very happy for you.  Enjoy web browsing on the EDGE network.  Enjoy delaing with spam one…message…at…a…time.  Enjoy using your own little calendar that no one else can see.  Enjoy adding your addresses one at a time for all of your customers, friends, clients, whatever."

    I don’t mind the EDGE network at all, specially when my battery life last longer.  I usually find what I want faster than any of the people in the office which use Treos, Q’s or whatever.  So I can’t complaint on the speed.

    The email is a bitch to delete one at a time, that i’ll give you.

    But I can share my calendar with anyone using an Apple Computer, or anyone on a browser if I desired, right?  and it’s based on CalDav, so it’s open.  Don’t see why it’s not compatible with anyone else as you mention.

    I can also sync using Entourage via the cable in the morning.  It’s not up to the minute, but it’s close enough for now.

    I also think that Leopard will have a complete calendar solution in a couple of weeks.  We’ll see what that translates to with the iPhone.

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