Microsoft trying to fix issues with Outlook.com's new IMAP support

Microsoft finally added the long-promised support for the older IMAP protocol in its Outlook.com email service earlier this week, but the new feature apparently is still a bit buggy for some users, who have posted their issues in comments on the official Office blog.

Most of the user complaints have stated they cannot connect to Outlook.com with their IMAP-based email clients, such as Mac Mail and the Mac and Linux versions of Thunderbird. An example of this issue was reported on Saturday by Stan Wintraecken, who wrote, "Mac mail is only synchronizing my deleted messages map with outlook.com and not my inbox. It sends an error: Error 9. Server error. Please try again later."

In the same comment thread, Outlook.com Program Manager Ben Poon said Microsoft has "seen a handful of reports of users running into the error 9 so we're looking into this with high priority." Some other people have also written that emails deleted in their IMAP client remain on the Outlook.com website.

Source: Microsoft | Image via Microsoft

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40 Comments

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outlook imap works OK in thunderbird daily (26.0a1), at least over the last couple of days i've been using imap instead of pop3.

IMAP works fine when implemented correctly on the server side. To address a previous conment, one does not conform to nuances of different clients - the clients are supposed to handle their own (when coded correctly to spec).

I also hope they are working on the wiped contacts bug. Earlier this week, all my contacts just disappeared without a trace. There are several threads on the Microsoft support forums with people having the same problem.

Seems to work fine with Outlook for Mac at least. Still find it curious even Outlook for Mac doesn't support Exchange ActiveSync, is it a simple case of if the OS doesn't support it neither can the client?

Xerxes said,
Seems to work fine with Outlook for Mac at least. Still find it curious even Outlook for Mac doesn't support Exchange ActiveSync, is it a simple case of if the OS doesn't support it neither can the client?
no it's just that EAS just started coming to computers with Outlook 2013 and Outlook for mac is still the 2011 (the office 2010 code) version

Brando212 said,
no it's just that EAS just started coming to computers with Outlook 2013 and Outlook for mac is still the 2011 (the office 2010 code) version

Ah, fair enough. Thanks

Depends on how you use it. POP3 is just fine if you use a single client to access your email. IMAP comes into its own when your using multiple clients to access the same account.

Who else finds it weird that a company as big and experienced as Microsoft can't get something simple like IMAP working 100% first time?

68k said,
Who else finds it weird that a company as big and experienced as Microsoft can't get something simple like IMAP working 100% first time?

Only people who have no idea what they're talking about.

farmeunit said,
Why don't you enlighten us?
How about you go read the RFC. IMAP is a mess. You write to the client not the spec... sadly.

68k said,
Who else finds it weird that a company as big and experienced as Microsoft can't get something simple like IMAP working 100% first time?

Have to agree with the other comments, if you think IMAP is simple and dealing with the insane ways it is implemented in clients, you don't understand why Microsoft designed the Exchange and EAS protocols to replace it in the first place.

MrHumpty said,

Only people who have no idea what they're talking about.
So you're saying it's (setting up IMAP is) an impossible task? I use IMAP with work email, and it works perfectly. Our servers all run Linux.

So if computer admins and ISPs can do it (properly), why can't Microsoft?

68k said,

So if computer admins and ISPs can do it (properly), why can't Microsoft?

Because they're not writing software, merely deploying it.

Raa said,

Because they're not writing software, merely deploying it.
So Microsoft are re-inventing the wheel...

68k said,
So you're saying it's (setting up IMAP is) an impossible task? I use IMAP with work email, and it works perfectly. Our servers all run Linux.

So if computer admins and ISPs can do it (properly), why can't Microsoft?


Work environment vs world wide?
So you can set up a basic IMAP service that someone else build for you, just for you to change the settings and execute it as a service.
Versus Microsoft who has to implement an ancient broken and messy protocol to their services.

Shadowzz said,

Work environment vs world wide?
So you can set up a basic IMAP service that someone else build for you, just for you to change the settings and execute it as a service.
Versus Microsoft who has to implement an ancient broken and messy protocol to their services.

2 employees vs thousands
thousand dollars vs millions in budget

68k said,
So you're saying it's (setting up IMAP is) an impossible task? I use IMAP with work email, and it works perfectly. Our servers all run Linux.

So if computer admins and ISPs can do it (properly), why can't Microsoft?

Do you understand the magnitude of the data Microsoft is handling?

Most ISP email solutions use basic database or FS storage methodologies that by nature are designed to be a simple one-to-one relationship.

When you are dealing with the database technologies Microsoft are using there are clusters of data, numerous snapshots, caches, archives, and a dizzying number of ways they ensure data integrity and queue information for performance.

Next add in 50 variations of how clients handle IMAP, their timeout periods, port issues, and other trivial things that are not 'standard' and something as silly as bad client or large user inbox missing a timeout period on a folder, and it would cause the interface to fail.

As someone that owned ISPs and even wrote mail server software, what a typical 50,000 customer ISP deals with is trivial in comparison to what Microsoft is doing.

68k said,
So you're saying it's (setting up IMAP is) an impossible task? I use IMAP with work email, and it works perfectly. Our servers all run Linux.

So if computer admins and ISPs can do it (properly), why can't Microsoft?

In your case your servers are dumb mailboxes with no server side functionality. In the case of Outlook.com it has an experience to maintain. One of the big problems is the Mac Mail client who makes its own sent/deleted mail folders while Outlook.com has it too. If the user tries to avoid the duplication problems they start seeing errors. IMAP works great with a dumb server with only an inbox.

Mobius Enigma said,
It is still better than the years of comments suggesting MS should switch to Linux.

Well, given how popular Android is it's a sensible suggestion to make if you're talking about mobile operating systems.

theyarecomingforyou said,

Well, given how popular Android is it's a sensible suggestion to make if you're talking about mobile operating systems.

Give it two years. When Android tries to move to 64bit even, see what happens when Oracle doesn't just give Google the tools they need.

Android really is a mess. Linux has issues too, especially in comparison to NT, which is what made all the MS 'needs to' comments so annoying.

I find it strange how much trouble IMAP causes everyone that implements it. It's probably due to the large number of clients that send their requests in different ways.

Spicoli said,
I find it strange how much trouble IMAP causes everyone that implements it. It's probably due to the large number of clients that send their requests in different ways.

I'd say in the case of Microsoft that they probably ended up with more people adopting IMAP than they expected thus there are some hick ups but with that being said Google, Yahoo, and iCloud seem to do the job ok with the occasional hick up.

Sending occurs with SMTP, which was always available for use with a POP client. You may want to revisit your settings and verify that they are correct.