Microsoft drops Outlook Mobile to force people to their Outlook app

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Microsoft has announced that the long standing Outlook Mobile App is being dumped from 15 May 2018.  A thinly-disguised attempt to get more people using their insecure Outlook App.

Naming of Microsoft’s email services is (deliberately) confusing so here’s a quick primer

Outlook Mobile App (OMA) is a app/application to connect with Exchange Server mailboxes.  This is what Microsoft is dumping.

Outlook Web Access (OWA) or ‘Outlook on the web’ is a set of web pages designed to fit on small phone screens.  If Exchange Server users try to access Outlook Web App (email in a browser) and the system detects a small screen, it switches to a light version instead.    OWA is being retained.

Outlook app is the Apple/Android app which you can use instead of the in-built email/calendar/contacts apps.  Microsoft pushes the Outlook app very hard and you’ve almost certainly seen many links to install it, even inside Office itself.

Office-Watch.com has been a very lonely voice in actively DIScouraging the use of this Outlook app.  In an era of increased security concerns, Microsoft’s Outlook app is a serious breach of privacy.  It’s also clumsy and awkward, something demonstrated by Microsoft’s past design decisions.

Still Confused?

Microsoft has a feature comparison table to see the features in :

  • Outlook app for iPhone and iPad
  • Outlook app for Android phones and tablets
  • Outlook on the web (aka OWA)
  • ‘Outlook 2016’ it doesn’t specify Outlook for Windows, the Office 365 updated version or Mac.  Often even Microsoft forgets they have three ‘Outlook 2016’ products <sigh>.

Microsoft’s benefit, not customers

Killing the Outlook Mobile app is for Microsoft’s benefit only.  It’s an inconvenience to network administrators and their users, but that doesn’t matter when Microsoft sees an opportunity.

Dropping Outlook Mobile App saves Microsoft money.  They can close a whole development and maintenance team necessary to keep OMA working with different devices.

At the same time, they can encourage more use of their worrisome Outlook app. Redmond is promoting it as an improved, replacement while ignoring the legitimate privacy concerns about the app.

The problem with the Outlook app

We’ve talked about the major problem with the Outlook app in the past.  Here’s a short explanation.

The Outlook app started as Accompli before bought and renamed by Microsoft.  The email/calendar/contacts app does NOT work like other mail apps in an important way.

Outlook app sends/receives all data via Microsoft’s servers.  Even if the data is not hosted by Microsoft, for example Gmail, Yahoo, corporate mail servers.  Your email login name/password are stored by Microsoft so they can login to your mail account.

That means your email account, contacts and calendar are all accessible by Microsoft.  Microsoft has in the past read customers data when it suits them.  The laws of various countries, notably the USA, means anything passing through Microsoft’s servers can be read by the government without notice or even a warrant.

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