Outlook 2007 breaks RIM Desktop Manager

If you have the misfortune to have upgraded to Outlook 2007 - you know, fatter, slower, less features and of course using WORD as an HTML render engine instead of IE - you will no doubt have found out that if you have Blackberries, that the BlackBerry manager and Outlook are having a bit of a tiff.

Why ? Good question. Notes C-API - the bit you connect in at at API level - has never changed core calls, just added new ones. So you can merrily write stuff and compile it for Notes v5 (released 1999!) and happily have it work with Notes 7. No worries.

But over in Redmond, they do love tinkering with API's. This model might be labelled "Rip and Replace". So every three years or so, just about when you have Exchange and Outlook finally stable and scalable (or not - I still hear painful screams coming from large Exchange sites in that regard) - bang. Out comes a new version of Outlook, and your back to the starting position again. Think of it as a game of Snakes and Ladders - one you will never win.

Is this RIM's fault ? I'm sure MS would say it was - after all, Outlook has been in Beta forever. RIM should have tested it on the betas, so when the flood (?) of people ugprading to Outlook 2007 happened, the customers wouldnt lose out. No doubt efforts were made to do that, but judging by the results - it failed.

So back to the original question. Why does MS demand a complete rip-and-replace of all partner software every time they (finally) do a major product release ? Dont they want to grow a third-party add-on business model ? I mean -after all those billions in fines, they cant possibly be deliberately sabotaging their software, now that they claim that Exchange 2007 is a direct (albeit insecure and unreliable) competitor to RIM ?

Come on, whats changed with eMail since - ohh - say cc:Mail days ? The subject line ? The "SendTo" field ? Body fields with file attachments ? So what on earth requires a rip+and+replace change ? The only thing I can think of is "continued customer lock-in".

So from MS's point of view - they win. They blame the cockup on RIM, and the customers switch over to their push mail solution, as its "more compatible". Any news from Ray Ozzie on this important matter ? Apparently not.

And I feel sorry for the poor customer in all this mess. After all, they're paid good money to get free upgrades every three (or four or five) years to their core software, and have the right to expect that newer versions are slicker, more secure, faster, better than the previous ones. And dont expect major league balls to be dropped right left and center..

It all points to a really bad bad bad situation for Exchange users for the foreseeable. Perhaps they might want to look at other innovative, social, secure products instead ?

Update: A fix is described here.