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.

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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. 

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Hope that helps put some perspective around the differences.