For sometime now ActiveSync has almost been the de facto method for providing ‘push’ email to any device that isn’t a Blackberry. And to be honest it actually does a pretty good job. If your company runs MS Exchange email – which plenty do – it’s an easy to setup, secure way of give your employees access to email on their phones. What’s more it then allows you to configure and secure those phone and tablets. Most smartphones now support it, iPhones and Android included. (I’ve written about ActiveSync and described the options available here)
To back this up MS have now launched an ActiveSync logo programme that vendors that meet the right criteria can put on their device or its box to advertise their support for the protocol.
On the face of it this is a great idea, it’ll help consumers identify devices that do support ActiveSync, and also offer some confidence that the devices will work properly with it. Technet describes the programme as:
Specific requirements for Exchange ActiveSync clients on mobile email devices set by Microsoft
Exchange ActiveSync client test plan defined by Microsoft
Third-party lab to test qualification candidates from handset OEMs
Support for Exchange ActiveSync client development by OEMs through Microsoft Services Premier Support
All good stuff, though I do wonder how exhaustive the test plan is as the iPhone is listed as a supported device despite the longstanding problems that Apples implementation has with calendars from mailboxes with delegated access (for example secretary access to a managers calendar).
There are 14 requirements that a device must meet before it can be considered for a logo:
– Must be current Exchange ActiveSync licensee
– Use Exchange ActiveSync v14 or later
– Direct Push email, contacts & calendar
– Accept, Decline & Tentatively Accept meetings
– Rich formatted email (HTML)
– Reply/Forward state on email
– GAL Lookup
– ABQ strings provided: device type and device model
– Remote Wipe
– Password Required
– Minimum Password Length
– Timeout without User Input
– Number of Failed Attempts
Of course most devices, Apple IOS included, support a many more functions and policies than these. You may find there’s a similarity between these relatively simple requirements and the limited subset of ActiveSyncs capabilities that Window Phone 7 supports….
Whilst it clearly wouldn’t do for MS to have a logo programme that it’s own platforms don’t comply with, I do think MS missed an opportunity here. By adding in a requirements for say Encryption they could possible ActiveSync and the logo approved devices as a much more effective alternative to Blackberry. Security is really Blackberry’s only significant USP now.