Outlook.com embraces IMAP

Earlier today Microsoft introduced IMAP support for its Outlook.com email service. The latest addition is designed to allow feature phone users and those who rely on a number of third-party email clients, such as the Mail app from OS X, to take advantage of email sync.

IMAP joins Exchange ActiveSync and POP as the supported Outlook.com protocols and falls between the two, in terms of functionality (EAS is more feature-rich compared to POP). "While we believe that EAS is the most robust protocol for connecting to your email, with syncing in near real time, and superior battery and network efficiency, there are still some devices and apps that haven't made the upgrade to EAS", says Outlook.com Protocols principal program manager lead Steve Kafka. "As an older protocol, IMAP is widely supported on feature phones and other email clients such as those on a Mac. We heard your feedback loud and clear that this was important".

As some of you may know, the Mail app from OS X (I have personally tested this on Mountain Lion) cannot connect to Outlook.com through anything other than POP, resulting in a sub-par experience for the users of the email service. Why? Because it connects through POP, any change performed on the device, like marking an email as read or deleting it, does not reflect on the server -- email will still be listed as unread or not removed, respectively. Basically, there is no synchronization between the two -- a problem which does not exist with IMAP.

According to Microsoft, the following settings should be used to connect through IMAP (the supported version is 4, revision 1) to Outlook.com:

For incoming:

  • Server address: "imap-mail.outlook.com"
  • Server port: "993"
  • Encryption type: "SSL"

For outgoing:

  • Server address: "smtp-mail.outlook.com"
  • Server port: "587"
  • Encryption type: "TLS"

(Please note that you have to remove the quotes when using the aforementioned settings.)

The IMAP support also brings OAuth (version 2.0) to Outlook.com. It is used for authorization purposes.

The IMAP support brings another benefit to Outlook.com. "In addition to offering more complete device connectivity, IMAP (along with OAuth) gives developers opportunities to build third-party clients and services that offer value-added scenarios on top of your Outlook.com email", says Kafka. "We are excited to launch the first set of services today that integrate with Outlook.com, and look forward to sharing many more in the future".

Some of the third-party service and clients that now support Outlook.com include the TripIt journey planner, the Slice online purchase tracker and the Unroll.me subscription manager, which I previously discussed (and recommended) here.

Photo Credit: 2jenn/Shutterstock

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