Microsoft’s SMTP Patch could Delete your Email Accounts

A number of news sites have been reporting about Microsoft releasing a patch that fixes an issue with sending email on your Windows Mobile 6.1 device. The patch is available from the Outlook Mobile team web site and claims to fix the problem. I’m sure it might do that, but there are a number of things that they fail to mention. So before you go and install this patch, read the issues below and weigh the decision to install or not.

Temporale-OutlookSmtpPatchProblems#1 The patch will restart your device without warning. If you’re in the middle of typing an email, have some applications open with data not saved, or perhaps you are trying to avoid rebooting the device – period, then you’re in for a nice little surprise. There’s no mention of a reboot on the Outlook Mobile site or during the install.

#2 The device restarts in Flight Mode. I’m not sure why it was necessary to put my device into Flight mode (turning the cellular radio off) in order to fix this bug. There are some people that might be using the device in a locked down or kiosk state and they might not have access to re-enable the cellular radio. There are others who might not even know how to toggle Flight mode. If you put my device into Flight mode, you should be taking it out as well.

#3 And biggest issue that I came across – All of your IMAP or POP accounts could be deleted or inaccessible. I had 4 different email accounts on my device, but only 1 of these accounts had this SMTP problem. In that problem account I had 2 emails saved as draft because I wasn’t able to send them. The first was a short one-liner and no big deal. The other email was a proposal that I had spent the better part of an hour working on while my kids flipped and tumbled through their gymnastics class. After installing this patch my phone no longer shows these email accounts when I go into Outlook Mobile. They are not listed in the Switch Accounts window and they are not present when I push left or right from the inbox. The only accounts I have left are the default Outlook account and my SMS messages.

All of these issues are unacceptable and 100% avoidable through proper testing and communication. It’s nice to finally see Microsoft issuing patch’s to the consumer directly. However, without the proper testing you’re just wasting everyone’s time. It’s not like I have a weird or hacked phone. I’m using a BlackJack II from Samsung and AT&T – one of the most popular phones on the market today.

This gets back to the point I made in an earlier post about Microsoft employee’s actually using the device without Exchange Direct Push as so many of us do. I would love to see how many MCB team members are actually connecting their device to IMAP or POP email servers. Just like desktop ActiveSync, I think I can count the number on one hand. Microsoft, if you want to be in this game and compete against the likes of Google and Apple, you need to be more ontop of things and bring your A game to the table.

I’m off to re-create all my email accounts on the device and then retype my lost proposal. :(

About Mike Temporale

Mike Temporale has written 614 posts on Mobile Jaw..

Mike Temporale grew up fascinated by computers since an early age. His first hands on with a computer came when he was 7 years old and a travelling lab of Commodore PET computers made a stop at his school. Hooked on the new world these devices offered, he took any chance possible to get in front of a computer. When Compaq launched the iPaq 3600, he was hooked again. This time on a whole new world of mobile computing. Today, Mike spends his day helping clients deploy and manage their mobile device around the world. From installing custom software, to locking and securing data, and everything in between. He is also the Editor in Chief at Mobile Jaw - a site focused on today's mobile world.

  • BRYAN B

    I think people have had better luck using the unofficial patch from here.

    http://www.tracyandmatt.co.uk/blogs/index.php/2008/10/15/windows-mobile-smtp-fix

    If I remember right, if you delete the official patch, your e-mail accounts reappear. I hadn’t heard about the other issues though.

  • http://www.MobileJaw.com Mike Temporale

    Hrm. Yeah, when I removed the CAB all my accounts became accessible again. That’s really messed up.

    I did the manual hack and everything is up and running without the weird side effects. Why does Microsoft still have this patch available for download? The average consumer is just going to be frustrated and lost when their email accounts suddenly disappear.

  • BRYAN B

    What I find interesting is that, some people have not experienced the problem, I happen to be one of them.
    It would be interesting to find out if the majority of issues revolve around connecting to a 3g network or the Edge network. I live in southern Maine, were supposed to have 3g. To the best of my knowledge, I have never seen anything but an Edge connection. Yet I have a very stable and reliable connection, with very few dropped calls and no e-mail issues.

  • http://www.MobileJaw.com Mike Temporale

    Weird. Are you using POP/IMAP accounts for email, or just Exchange?

  • van_mierlo

    HI Mike,

    I installed the official patch last week and did not have any of these issues. I have 3 imap accounts, 1 pop, live account and outlook through exchange. It is probably messed up depending on the tweaks the device manufacturer or operator had done to Windows Mobile on their devices

  • BRYAN B

    Ditto, I have multiple accounts using multiple formats and I don’t have any issues even without installing either patch.
    I could be just Lucky, or it could be because I only have access the edge network. It could simple because I have SKTools running in the background cleaning the system, I’m not tech savvy to no why.

  • billsaez

    Response from the Outlook Mobile team here: we’re aware that this is happening and so far are only able to reproduce it on the Blackjack II as you mentioned here.

    The problem we are seeing is not that the accounts are being deleted, but we’re unable to load them. If you uninstall the patch you’ll see that the accounts will load again.

    We’re still investigating the issue and are trying to work towards a new version of the patch.

    We’ll update our team blog as we learn more.

    http://blogs.msdn.com/outlook_mobile/default.aspx

  • van_mierlo

    Thanks Bill,

    @ Mike….it’s just you

  • http://www.MobileJaw.com Mike Temporale

    @van_mierlo Just me and the thousands of other BlackJack II users. ;)

    @Bill PLEASE put a warning in the original post on your blog. Put it right up at the top where you mention a problem with POP email accounts. It needs to be clear that the problem is with POP/IMAP accounts.

    Also, if you need any help testing an update – I’m sure I can give it a go. You can reach me by sending an email to Mike at this site’s domain.

  • ttoennies

    I had the exact problem as you Mike & I also own a BlackJack II. I have these accounts:
    Outlook w/ Exchange Sycn
    Windows Live to Hotmail
    Gmail IMAP
    SMS

    The Gmail account was “deleted”, the others were fine.

  • http://www.MobileJaw.com Mike Temporale

    Micorosoft still has not released a fix for the BlackJack II device. It’s not like this is one of the top selling devices or anything.

    I recommend anyone with a BlackJack II use the patch that Tracy and Matt posted – http://www.tracyandmatt.co.uk/blogs/index.php/2008/10/15/windows-mobile-smtp-fix