One of the most hotly anticipated features of Windows Live Wave 4, judging by the interest here and elsewhere, is Exchange ActiveSync for Hotmail. The long promised feature first surfaced here thanks to an alert LiveSide reader back in June, and a number of you were able to get a tease of EAS working on your mobile devices, allowing for push notifications of email, calendar and contacts sync, and more.
Today Ina Fried at CNET News reported that according to Dharmesh Mehta, EAS will be released on Monday August 30.
The fun began back on June 15th when in a post on just started Hotmail Wave 4 rollout, we also posted some clarification on EAS, and were reminded via Twitter by Ryan Burkhardt that there would be a “separate rollout” for EAS.
Then in the comments, alert reader Jeroen Bemer followed a hunch and tried setting up his phone with m.hotmail.com (based on the m.google.com settings), and lo and behold, it worked!
Soon others were trying and at least some were succeeding, using the following settings:
server address: m.hotmail.com
We noticed the commotion and posted again with the EAS settings, and things took off from there, although apparently Microsoft then shut down access. We were able to cajole Ryan to stop by and say hello:
hey all, glad to see everyone is as excited as we are about activesync! we are working hard to get it ready for everyone, soon.
Things quieted down for a month or so, but then in August our readers again began tweeting that they again had EAS access. Apparently our band of early adopters were rewarded, although those trying to sign up for the first time weren’t getting in. Ryan chimed in again:
we are actually doing our final tests of the new service and for the users who previously figured out our server name and used hotmail activesync when we did an earlier test, you now have access to the service! for everyone else, access will be opened up in the next few weeks
Then damaster, who did get early access, posted a nice “first look” at Hotmail’s EAS service, using his iPod Touch, and it was there that another Hotmail employee, “Timesaver”, posted that it would only be “a few more days”, which of course we picked up on.
In this last post Ryan clarifies the questions about HTML mail on Windows Mobile 6.xx devices (the only Windows Mobile devices supported are 6.0 and above):
html mail on wm6.x won’t render. the activesync client in wm6.x has limitations when talking to the version of activesync we are shipping. unfortunately, updating the clients isn’t an option and us hacking to do something outside of the protocol spec wasn’t an option either.
for example, windows mobile 6.x won’t render most html mails well – the client has issues we can’t work around. on the otherhand ios >=3.1 will render most html mails well based on their implementation. we’ll have details on the expected experience per device when we launch.
It’s been a fun little ride, one in the best tradition of LiveSide, where our readers, including some from inside Microsoft, have joined in and contributed. Hopefully we’ll all have EAS access soon, and thanks to everyone, hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have!