Microsoft to Windows Live Mail 2012 users: Switch now

Back-end changes at Outlook.com are making the old email client obsolete

Microsoft to Windows Live Mail 2012 users: Switch now
Credit: Thinkstock

Windows Live Mail 2012 users are on notice: Switch to a modern email client or lose access to any Microsoft email accounts they have.

As noted in a blog post from Outlook VP Javier Soltero, if you have a Microsoft mailing address -- @outlook.com, @hotmail.com, @live.com, or @msn.com -- you won't be able to use the Windows Live Mail 2012 email client after June 30. If your email address is woody@msn.com or woody@outlook.com, for example, you won't be able to use Windows Live Mail to work with your email after June 30.

Soltero blames the new Outlook.com software rollout and describes the fallout this way:

To provide you an email experience with enhanced performance, security and reliability, the new Outlook.com has been built upon our latest Office 365 infrastructure. Because the Windows Live Mail 2012 email application doesn't support the protocols used by this new infrastructure, you will not be able to send or receive Outlook.com email from Windows Live Mail 2012 after your account is upgraded. This means the time has come for you to upgrade to a new email application.

Outlook.com is Microsoft's latest name for its email hosting service, similar to Google's Gmail and Apple's iCloud. Microsoft has been reworking its Exchange, Office 365, and Outlook.com back ends to be more compatible across email clients and to use the same APIs internally, so it can roll out the same functionality across Exchange, Office 365, and Outlook users. Those current differences explain why, for example, Mac Outlook users can't create shared calendars but Windows users can.

Microsoft's goal is to have a consistent set of APIs for not only Microsoft's email clients and services to use, but also third-party clients like Apple's and Google's email and calendar clients, Microsoft has told InfoWorld executive editor Galen Gruman.

It appears that Microsoft won't be updating Windows Live Mail 2012 to work with that new back end. Instead, Microsoft is telling users to switch to a more current email client, preferably the Mail client that comes with Windows 10.

Ironically, Gmail users will be able to still access the Windows Live Mail 2012 client -- that service operates with the older protocols supported in Windows Live Mail. The retooled Outlook.com service does not.

Microsoft has previously telegraphed abandonment of Windows Live Mail. You may recall back in December there were problems with Windows Live Mail patch KB 3093594. Microsoft distributed that patch through a link in an email message -- one that looked a lot like a phishing message. The email message said, in part:

In a few weeks, we will be making some changes to our email services that might impact your @outlook.com, @hotmail, @live, or @msn email account. Those changes will prevent your email from being delivered to the Windows Live Mail 2012 application you use. In order to continue using Windows Live Mail 2012 to send and receive email for your account, you need to install the latest update.

That quickly went to perdition in a picnic basket, as the proffered patch, KB 3093594, froze Windows Live Mail on every Windows 10 computer and tanked many Win7 and 8.1 machines, as well. MessengerGeek Jonathan Kay described the situation at the time:

Although not officially mentioned in the message, Windows Live Mail 2012 uses the DeltaSync protocol to send and receive email for Outlook.com/Hotmail accounts, so it can be assumed that they are discontinuing this protocol. Prior to DeltaSync's creation, Outlook Express used WebDAV, which itself was shut down in 2009.

With the patch linked in the email, KB3093594, Microsoft seems to have elected to continue to support Live Mail 2012 by replacing the DeltaSync protocol with Exchange ActiveSync. However, ... the Exchange ActiveSync support is extremely rudimentary and fixes none of the existing issues with mail notifications.

That patch quickly brought down most of the Windows Live Mail community, and it was replaced on Dec. 17 by a second version, which also crashed right and left. Nonplussed, Microsoft released a third version -- which turned out to be identical to the second version -- on Jan. 8. That version crashed as surely as the first two.

As I said back in January:

If you're using Windows Live Mail 2012, my first suggestion is to give up. Microsoft apparently doesn't care about WLM and hasn't devoted enough resources to solving the problem it created. My advice is to move to Outlook.com or (my favorite) Gmail.

Microsoft's suggestion in the original email is to "upgrade to Windows 10 and use the built in Mail application to stay connected and get the latest feature updates" -- a recommendation that's so patently self-serving it's embarrassing. The folks at Microsoft know darn well that the Windows "Universal" Mail app is underpowered and buggy.

I guess this is what it's coming to: patches that break things and don't get pulled or fixed; patches that look and behave like malware; undocumented, stealthy patches. It's harder and harder to trust Microsoft to maintain the software it produces.

To comment on this article and other InfoWorld content, visit InfoWorld's LinkedIn page, Facebook page and Twitter stream.
From CIO: 8 Free Online Courses to Grow Your Tech Skills
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.