Exchange ActiveSync implementation differences

So, a brief rant about Exchange ActiveSync (EAS).
Nearly ten years ago, Microsoft developed the what we now call the EAS protocol. For a while, they licensed it only under a strict NDA. Now they have documented it. As far as I can tell, they still license it, so not just any random knucklehead can use it. The server implementation of EAS in Exchange 2010 (and earlier versions) behaves in a predictable and mature manner. The clients? Not so much.
Each device or software vendor implements their own EAS client. There’s no standard library or toolkit that you get as part of the license. There also don’t seem to be any restrictions or requirements. Two manufacturers can choose to implement wildly different levels of EAS support, yet they’re both able to claim that they support EAS.
In general I’m OK with that in principle. After all, different vendors compete on price, functionality, quality, and a host of other factors. If a vendor wants to skimp on their EAS implementation
(oh, yoo-hoo, Mr. Jobs… please pick up the white courtesy iPhone) they are free to do so. That’s just one aspect of the mobile device marketplace.
In practice, though, this is one of the most frustrating parts of supporting mobile devices with Exchange. First, tere is no central source listing the degree of EAS support provided by individual vendors. Second, and much worse, Microsoft doesn’t require a minimum degree of EAS support or require any particular features. Contrast this with the various Windows logo programs that Microsoft offers.
In Microsoft’s defense, I’m sure they work with their EAS licensees to try to get them to do the best job possible on their clients. However, the results would indicate that this has not been very successful. Consider the flap around encryption policy support on the iPhone 3GS, or the Palm Pre’s lack of support for password policies, or the morass that is the Sony-Ericsson EAS implementation. Clearly there’s more work to be done here.
Until then, Exchange now provides EAS device access rules, more about which in a future post.

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