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Mary Jo Foley says the iPhone WILL sync with Microsoft Exchange. Maybe. Someday.

A long time ago, shortly after the iPhone was announced, I wrote a blog post citing David Pogue of the New York Times, one of the few people who had actually touched an iPhone, saying that it wouldn’t sync with/support Microsoft Exchange for email, calendar, etc. It’s a popular topic, and that post has become the most viewed page on tinyscreenfuls.com, being viewed several hundred times per day (mostly from Google searches). No wonder – it’s the first result in Google for “iphone microsoft outlook” and “iphone outlook sync” at the time I’m writing this.

The lack of Exchange sync is a deal breaker for a lot of people, including me. For all of the ranting I’ve done about the lack of 3G, closed platform, and all the rest of the iPhone’s shortcomings, heaven help me but I want one. I really, REALLY want one. I could (probably) give up my fast 3G data speeds. I could (probably) give up a hardware keyboard for text entry, and live with the fact that I’d need to use two hands for every single interaction with the iPhone (one to hold, one to touch). But giving up the ability to have my work email and calendar just magically stay in sync over the air is just too much.

Now, Mary Jo Foley, who blogs about Microsoft on ZDNet, says “my sources are saying Apple can and will make the iPhone compatible with Exchange Server“. She says that there are rumors that Apple will license Exchange Activesync from Microsoft, and allow iPhone users to sync with their corporate Exchange servers. Someday. Maybe. Of course, Apple and Microsoft won’t say anything about this. And no one has any concrete evidence – only “sources”. And no timelines – it could be that two years from now, the iPhone might get Exchange support. I highly doubt that it will happen in time for launch (in 3 days), or shortly thereafter.

So, nothing personal, Mary Jo, but I’m calling BS. My “sources” (a.k.a. my brains and my gut) are telling me that this isn’t true, or if it is true, it won’t happen any time soon (say, anytime this year).

What if I’m proven wrong? In that case, it will just be that much harder for me to resist plonking down the cash for an iPhone. 😉

Update: Walt Mossberg has posted his review of the iPhone, and says that Exchange sync is possible:

Email: The iPhone can connect with most popular consumer email services, including Yahoo, Gmail, AOL, EarthLink and others. It can also handle corporate email using Microsoft’s Exchange system, if your IT department cooperates by enabling a setting on the server.

Hmm. My resistance is eroding…

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10 thoughts on “Mary Jo Foley says the iPhone WILL sync with Microsoft Exchange. Maybe. Someday.

  1. Pingback: Techmeme

  2. Mary Jo’s sources may or may not be correct, but I don’t think Mossberg is referring to “true” Exchange ActiveSync (i.e. Direct Push and OTA contacts/calendar/tasks sync) in his review.

    The “if your IT department cooperates by enabling a setting on the server” part gives me a strong feeling that he’s talking about enabling IMAP/POP3 support on the server side, which is possible with Exchange. Since the iPhone email client supports IMAP/POP3, it’ll simply be able to pull down mail from the server the traditional way.

  3. IntelWife says:

    Sure they would, if they could do it securely, but unfortunately there is no way to do it secure enough to protect the servers from external attacks.

  4. Paranoia is Intel’s middle name. They don’t even make Outlook Web Access available, except inside the firewall (which mostly defeats the purpose).

    But I could live without my Intel email and calendar over the air, right? RIGHT!?

    Augh, this is killing me. And now this

    :-)

  5. Walter says:

    iPhone in hand and yes it “syncs” mail with exchange via imap through the “exchange” account option in the built in mail, but you get NO calendar and NO contact synching except through iTunes. The end, for now I guess :(

  6. Of course, ANY mail server that can do IMAP can “sync” with an IMAP client – and it’s good that iPhone included one. So that would include Notes, GroupWise, your local ISP, etc. The question will be what actually “syncs”. There are as many implentations of IMAP clients as there are stars it seems, and it will be interesting to see if phone deletions are pushed to the master, folders are supported, “sent” items will be updated to the master outbox, etc. I might find out on Thursday when I meet with a customer who bought one of these and now needs it to sync to their GroupWise system. My guess is that calendar/contacts will all have to be done at the desktop through ActiveSync with Outlook.

    Danita

  7. Pingback: The iPhone will NOT sync with Microsoft Outlook/Exchange, might be upgradeable to 3G at Josh Bancroft’s TinyScreenfuls.com

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