Paul Robichaux considered harmful

Posted on August 10th, 2009 by whinger. Filed under Tech.

Paul Robichaux is (I’m sure) a well-respected MVP. I’ve no issue with either MVPs, him in particular or indeed Microsoft. I use a number of MS products, I’ve been (in days when I wasn’t a php-whore) an MSDN-subscribing developer and I’ve made my living in no small way thanks to a number of their products; as such I’d like to make clear that I’m neither a raving loony free-software fanatic nor a MS hater.

However Paul’s rant against z-push seemed so inflammatory and given that the existing comments displayed the most moronic and ignorant attitudes of the free-software community, I felt obliged to post a more measured comment to his site myself for some balance.

It’s been a good few days now and the comment hasn’t appeared. I’m not drawing any conclusions from that yet; however I thought I’d post the essence of what I said here (I don’t have the original text because I submitted it to Paul’s site, which probably makes it his copyright anyway!)

The problem I have with Paul’s position is that it’s disingenuous. No-one really wants to “steal” (as he puts it) MS’ synch protococol, because being able to synch my contacts (which probably change once a week if that) or even my calendar (admittedly slightly more useful) in real time without plugging my phone into my laptop (ooh what a hardship) isn’t a big sell. What they do want is to get their phones to pick up email quickly and cheaply (preferably at approaching zero-cost) without using a huge amount of battery power. There are a number of ways to do this – the cheapest and simplest being IMAP IDLE, which holds a connection open to the IMAP server and waits until the server says “here, I’ve got a new email” (pretty much the same as MS’ “innovative” product does, in fact 🙂 ).

The problem with this is that MS’ phones don’t support IMAP IDLE, despite the openness of the protocol, the wide support for it across almost all IMAP servers and the fact that their own users have been crying out for it for years. Why don’t they? Perhaps because (up until recently) the only way to get instant email on an MS phone (apart from the exorbitant blackberry) was to pay for Exchange. That sounds remarkably like abuse of their market position to me.

I also find it intriguing that Apple decided not to support IDLE either, when they licensed the Activesync protocol. Coincidence?

So here’s a deal Paul. Get MS to support IMAP IDLE natively in their phone’s email client and I’ll stop using z-push in a heartbeat. And if you can get Apple to do it I bet a fair few more of its users would too.

Tags: , ,

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply