Mail for Exchange vs Windows Mobile – what’s the difference?

I've had a few Mobile Operators and customers ask me recently what's the difference between an Exchange Activesync Licensee and the Windows Mobile implementation of Exchange Activesync. 

Before I go into the comparison let me provide a little bit of background.  Microsoft provides a solution for accessing Exchange which is called Exchange Activesync .  We then license it to 3rd party providers such as Nokia, Symbian, Motorola, Dataviz and Palm.

When we license the protocol to these 3rd parties they then build their own client and choose which features they implement (we don't restrict them)

Now the complication comes because different vendors implement different features and within Microsoft we obviously provide all features on Windows Mobile. 

Now to the comparison - Nokia -create an application called 'Mail for Exchange' which you have to install (or may be provided in ROM) on a device.  Right now they support the installation on all E Series devices plus the N95, N73 and N76.

I've tried the latest v2.0 of Mail for Exchange and in comparison the following things are missing (when compared to a Windows Mobile Device)

  • You can't access the subfolders of your inbox - this drove me mad as I tend to store everything in subfolders
  • You don't get HTML email
  • You cannot access IRM protected email or documents
  • You can't create a Meeting Request on the device
  • If I add a picture to a contact it doesn't sync both ways successfully
  • If you are an administrator you can't wipe the storage card on a Nokia device nor can you enforce encryption from Exchange

The HTML Support was really interesting as I never realised how reliant on it I had become - check out the screen shot comparison below.  This is the same CNN Money Report email.

image image

The other thing that surprised me was even though the Nokia devices state support for Word, Excel and Powerpoint the support was somewhat limited.  I opened the same document on a Windows Mobile device and the E61.  See the screenshots below where the E series loses the images and also changes the numbered bullets to just plain bullets as well as the bold formatting being lost.  The other problem is that if you edit a document and send it back to your PC the document gets corrupted/destroyed. 

image image

Hope that helps put some perspective around the differences.

Comments (7)
  1. Chris Woollam says:

    What if someone has their own SSL certificate, Does Mail For Exchange support this?

    I was speaking to someone yesterday who had this problem, everyone else in the company uses Windows Mobile and they can install their cer no problem but doesn’t know how to get it to work on Mail for Exchange on a Nokia.

  2. Use Exchange 2007 ActiveSync logs to track mobile device iSCSI SAN storage for Microsoft Exchange —

  3. Budgeuk says:


    on my phones i do not seem to get HTML emails, i get an email weekly from my av, but all the pictures are missing but show up on outlook on my PC,

    on my phone HTC touch Dule on orange the images appear as a link.

    why is this?

  4. Paul says:

    Jason, one thing I would add is this – If you don’t have Exchange 2007 or a POP account and Windows Mobile 6 (i.e. you are using Exchange 2003) then both pictures will look the same.

  5. MSDN Archive says:

    Chris – not sure to be honest as I’ve not tried a self signed cert… might be worth checking the Nokia site on Mail for Exchange

    Budgeuk – What email service are you using – you will need to have either Exchange 2007, POP or IMAP to get HTML

    Paul – yep – agreed if you are using Exchange 2003 and WM5 they will look the same but I was testing Exchange 2007 and WM6

  6. Chris Rue says:

    @ Budgeuk (and anyone else who’s interested)…

    Here’s some more detail about HTML e-mail limitations in WM6

    Don’t forget IMAP as an option, even tho I personally think it’s way too clunky a solution…

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