Microsoft has just released an update to Exchange 2007 that should fix issues that could have prevented Apples new iPhone from receiving mail from Exchange Server 2007.
The Redmond, Wash., software maker released June 28 the third update to Exchange Server 2007, known as Rollup 3, which addresses many of the issues customers have been experiencing with Apple Mac Mail, just ahead of the release of Apples iPhone on June 29.
The update is expected to address the many issues Exchange 2007 users have been having, including with Mac Mail and the fact that when they access their mailboxes on a Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 server, certain IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) clients cannot open the bodies of the e-mail messages, which triggers an error message.
This fix is important as the iPhone will work with Exchange Server via IMAP4, Keith McCall, chief technology officer of Azaleos and a former Exchange executive, told eWEEK.
"Exchange 2007 has had some difficulties with the IMAP4 protocol implementation, which are at least partially expected to be addressed with Exchange 2007 Rollup 3. We are currently testing these fixes to see that they do address the issue with Mac Mail," he said.
However, McCall did point out that he has not yet tested synchronization with an iPhone so could not say for certain that these issues applied to the iPhone, although comments from people inside Microsoft had given that impression. "But, without these fixes, the ability for iPhones to work with Exchange 2007 would have been affected," he said.
The update is cumulative, so it replaces the first two updates and will be available via Microsoft Update as well as the Microsoft Download Center. The full documentation and download information can be found here.
The iPhone could also work better with Exchange 2003 and 2007 if Apple licensed, and ported to the Mac OS X, Microsofts Exchange ActiveSync protocol, a data synchronization service that enables mobile users to gain access to their e-mail, calendar and contacts and retain access to this information while offline.
While neither Apple nor Microsoft have confirmed any such licensing deal, even if that had already happened it would likely be a matter of months before ActiveSync works on the iPhone, given the technical work involved in making that happen. "If that work had already started, I think we would know this," McCall said.
"Although the ability to access Microsoft Exchange from the iPhone is important to end users, it is not what most of our customers IT departments are concerned about. Rather, IT faces challenges with the iPhone, just as with any mobile device, in provisioning, securing, monitoring and managing 7-by-24 access to e-mail and other critical business applications," he said. "Every new device added increases the cost and complexity of managing corporate e-mail systems."
IT departments face a myriad of challenges when deploying mobile devices, from security to redundancy, which include how to easily activate and deactivate mobile devices that are trying to access enterprise information.
While the availability of Exchange could be more than 99.9 percent, it is difficult for many IT organizations to maintain or even evaluate mobile access availability, McCall said. He noted that "our estimate is that mobile access availability is typically less than 90 percent due to poorly designed IT infrastructure for mobility, network coverage issues and client software glitches."
With regard to reporting, IT departments have difficulty monitoring and reporting on access to enterprise information from mobile devices, he said.
Azaleos upcoming MobileXchange solution, which will debut in July, is designed to address these needs across a wide range of devices, including the iPhone, Microsoft mobile devices and RIM BlackBerry smart phones, McCall said.