Gmail IMAP Breaks Outlook 2003!

Does this nonsense ever stop? For a few trouble-free years, a client happily uses her installation of Outlook 2003 to access her Gmail using [Gmail] in Outlook’s account settings as the default root IMAP folder. Then suddenly, out of the blue, emails stop downloading and Outlook spins into a vicious, infinite circle of ‘Downloading hierarchy’ which actually downloads nothing!

So why should this happen almost overnight?

Further investigation into the folder structure showed that there appears to be not one, but two root folders on display in IMAP, one being [Gmail] and the other [Google Mail]! Where did that spring from?

So maybe if I change the root to [Google Mail] it’ll all be ok? Maybe that’s the new IMAP root folder and Google haven’t published the changes?

No; it didn’t make any odds, the ‘Downloading hierarchy’ spiral carried on and on and on…

Maybe time for an upgrade then, I thought and set to work trying an upgrade to Office 2007, courtesy of a second hand eBay copy.

Bingo! Outlook 2007 was perfectly happy with [Gmail] as its root folder and everything was back in business!

I’ve seen this sort of stuff recently with a hosted Exchange service which had obviously been upgraded to Exchange Server 2013, where the server-side upgrade has unexpectedly broken the client access. In this case, it was XP machines running Outlook 2010 that could not longer connect to the upgraded Exchange box, whilst Windows 7 boxes saw no difference! This was due to the way XP (didn’t) handled the native certificate authentication that Exchange 2013 & Windows 7 happily get along with, out of the box. No doubt after some server-side fiddling, the new Exchange installation started allowing XP clients to connect and thousands of customers were happy!

It’s a shame that it is assumed by service providers that the majority of IT users upgrade their kit as often as they introduce new technolgy. It’s simply not true, which is why web designers have to build websites (well they should be if they have any consideration) to suit the needs of the lowliest of browsers still in use (the dreadful IE 6 for example).

Indications are, what with budgets still tight, people aren’t going to be upgrading beyond their current OS’s any time soon which means a heck of a lot of XP installations still in use, even after Microsoft withdraw lifecycle support in 2014…

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