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Windows Mobile: mobile e-mail for the masses:

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Apr-2006 11:02

Fellow MVP Jaap van Ekris has started a Blog/Wiki/Forums site, called Modern Nomads. One of the first articles there is about mobile e-mail (Mobile e-mal in the real world). Since not everyone around is running their own Microsoft Exchange Server, Jaap describes the pros and cons of using IMAP-based services on a Pocket PC.

The native and best solution for Windows Mobile e-mail and push e-mail is still a Microsoft Exchange account. But not every company can afford to run their own e-mail infrastructure (both in terms of software costs, administration, hardware infrastructure), but IMAP and POP3 protocols are implemented on mobile devices, and it's interesting to read about someone's experiences in real life.


Our company mail-systems are based on IMAP: our IT department, like many IT departments, knows that allowing POP3 introduces big risks in losing mail. This can be either in one of the many synchronizations to clients or by losing the device which stores the mail alltogether. Therefore we have to use regular IMAP-functionality of the Windows Mobile mail client: Pocket Outlook. According to the specifications of Windows Mobile, it should work. I am using this combination for a year now, so i was pretty confident that it would be a solution without any problems. I am a very technocratic user of e-mail: all mail that is not new should not be on the server. How little did I know about the totally different approaches of my colleagues for reading e-mail and the problems they cause in use on a mobile device...


Microsofts implementation of the IMAP protocol isn't one of the best, the general impression is that the POP implementation has had a lot more attention. My colleague found out the hard way. He started downloading the messages in his inbox, but the downloading did not complete. It simply stopped halfway. Upon closer investigation, we discovered something: the client tried to download his entire inbox, despite the setting to limit the view only to the mails recieved in the last three days. Pocket Outlook downloaded them anyway. Downloading his entire mailbox became problematic, since his mailbox contained more than 6000 messages and the mobile device simply could not deal with the volume of the mailbox: it took about two hours before the device ran out of the memory and hung itself. So handling one big inbox through IMAP is not really an option, even with limiting the view severly.

The article goes on to discuss strategies on synchronisation and e-mail management.

Some companies offer hosted Exchange accounts, including push e-mail options. One of these companies is 4Smartphone.net (affiliate link). The synchronisation of a Windows Mobile device with an Exchange server is flawless and performance is greatly improved with Windows Mobile 5.0 AKU2 and Microsoft Exchange 2003 SP2.



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Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

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