Outlook 2007 update sneaks in the back door

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An update for the iCalendar and IMAP features in Outlook 2007 was released yesterday.

If you were listening very carefully yesterday, you may have heard a tiny noise … it was an update for Outlook 2007 sneaking in the back door with barely a word, let alone any announcement or fanfare.

The update fixes two limitations – previously UNdocumented by Microsoft – in Outlook 2007.  As Microsoft puts it:

This update for Outlook 2007 adds support for the following Internet Calendar features:



  • Users can now respond to a meeting invitation that is received in iCalendar format with a proposal for a new meeting time.
  • Extended yearly recurrence patterns are now supported for appointments or meetings that recur every year or every several years. 

That’s fine and while it probably won’t be a big deal for many people I’m sure the changes will be welcome by someone.

It’s the next line that’s strange:

“This update also improves the compatibility between Outlook 2007 and some IMAP e-mail servers.”

This tells us nothing and is, presumably, deliberately vague.    There’s no word on what is ‘improved’ (or what was lacking in IMAP support previously).  No mention of which IMAP servers (or type of servers) is affected. 

A cynical person might be concerned that the unstated ‘improvements’ have more to do with Microsoft’s broader strategy and battle for market share with Google and others.  Microsoft would much prefer customers link to their Exchange Server mail hosts than use IMAP to connect to rival mail hosts.

With the lack of proper documentation or explanation it’s impossible for any customer to make an informed decision about whether to install the update.  If you want the ‘Propose new time’ or ‘Extend Yearly Recurrence’ features and use iCalendar then it’s probably worth the trouble. 

But if you’re using IMAP to syncronise with a mail server, will the update make things better or create new problems?    Without more information from Microsoft, better to leave this update alone.

You can get the mystery Outlook 2007 update from Microsoft.

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