The problem is not Microsoft’s, it’s Google’s.
Users have flooded the Office 365 Community website with angry posts demanding that Microsoft explain why they can’t access their email from their smartphones. On investigation it appears that the email problems are far from universal.
Missing from this conversation are irate comments from iOS (iPhone / iPad) or Windows Phone users, or even from users of Nokia Symbian devices or other minor smartphone operating systems.
That’s because there is nothing wrong with Office 365. The problem is with the phones. Which user base is experiencing this issue? Android users.
The problem is limited to the native mail application on Android smartphones which suddenly can’t connect to their Office 365 mailbox.
Let’s take a step back and have a look at how this issue arose in the first place.
Android has over time risen to prominence as the global smartphone platform leader in terms of handset activations, rapidly overtaking the iPhone. Could this be due to the fact that when a handset upgrades the OS it is treated as an activation regardless of the fact it’s on the same hardware? Possibly, but I’m not here to discuss numbers.
One of the strengths of Android adoption is its ability to support corporate mail systems, notably Microsoft Exchange Server through the adoption of the ActiveSync protocol.
Office 365 user mailboxes are stored in multiple locations for a variety of reasons. While normally there is no reason for your server address (podxxx.outlook.com) to change there may be a valid reason for this occur such as fail over, load balancing, testing or maintenance.
For users on Outlook, Outlook Web App or devices that support Exchange ActiveSync (and specifically the autodiscover function) this is not an issue as upon connection to the farm the client is simply re-directed to the new mailbox server.
Where Android fails
I can’t comment about Android apps or the operating system itself as I don’t have an Android phone. However, what has become evident in the past couple of months is an issue with the native mail client from versions 2.33 – 4. Why was this issue not evident before? Probably because there had not been a reason for Microsoft to shift users from one POD to another.
All those angry Android users are railing at the wrong company. This is a problem Google needs to fix, not Microsoft, because there’s nothing wrong with Office 365.
But Android users will have to wait. Google won’t fix this issue until Android 4.0.4 and not in earlier releases, according to the Android code website.
Loryan Strant is a Microsoft Office 365 MVP (Most Valuable Professional). Follow him on Twitter @TheCloudMouth.