MS Surface RT

Bad Outlook For Microsoft Surface Without POP3 Support

Unsupported POP3-based email could make life even harder for Surface Tablets

On by Wayne Rash eWEEK USA 2013. Ziff Davis Enterprise Inc. All Rights Reserved 4

It wasn’t until I started fiddling around with a Microsoft Surface RT that I found a huge feature hole that will keep many, if not most, Internet users from getting full value from this new tablet model.

That huge hole is the inability of the Surface RT to work with Internet mail sites using POP3 (post office protocol) for email. In other words, if you use an Internet service provider that delivers email using POP, you won’t be able to get your email that way.

Troubles begin to Surface…

Microsoft SurfaceThis fact alone may explain the low sales of the Surface RT tablet, but it is an even more likely explanation for the reports of very high return volumes on the Surface RT.

The fact is, when a customer shells out six hundred bucks for a slick new tablet, only to find out that they can’t use it for email, there’s a very high likelihood that they’ll pack it back into the box, head for the Microsoft store and ask for their money back. The customer’s next stop could very well be to the Apple store to buy an iPad, which does work with POP3 Internet email.

I can’t say that Microsoft is keeping this inability to work with the single most common email delivery system a secret, because it’s not. If you happen to check on the Microsoft website you’ll find out that the Surface and Windows 8 do not support POP. There’s even a list of workarounds you can use.

Unfortunately, most people don’t think to check this until they’ve already bought their device and are trying to set it up.

It is possible that many Windows 8 users will not notice since they probably aren’t using the Windows 8 mail app anyway. Those people with full computers are likely using Outlook or they’re using a third-party email client such as Thunderbird. When they upgraded from Windows 7, the email app stuck around, and they’ve probably never even tried the Windows Mail app.

You don’t have that option in Windows RT (the Windows version designed for ARM based tablets). There are no third-party email apps that support POP. Instead, your only choice for an email app is Windows Mail. Microsoft helpfully suggests you switch your internet email to IMAP (Internet mail access protocol) or EAS (Exchange ActiveSync) mailboxes. This is a nice idea, but most of the ISPs I could find don’t offer either one of those.

Eric Doyle
Author: Eric Doyle
Editor, ChannelBiz
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Last comment

4 replies to Bad Outlook For Microsoft Surface Without POP3 Support

  • On February 8, 2013 at 5:06 pm by Asok Asus

    Offering a tablet (basically whose sole function is to surf the web and read email) WITHOUT the ability to READ email is pretty much like making a sports car than can only run in first gear.

  • On February 22, 2013 at 12:52 pm by NIlux

    Pop3 is the reason I ditched hotmail. Everythig in the world except Microsoft uses IMAP. I guess that Windows thing/machine doesn’t support IMAP either?

    • On February 25, 2013 at 9:58 am by Eric Doyle

      Windows Surface supports IMAP and Exchange ActiveSync (EAS). According to Microsoft: “almost all, if not most, POP-based email systems also provide IMAP access. I would suggest checking with your e-mail provider to see if they can provide IMAP settings”.

  • On March 25, 2013 at 8:37 pm by Mike Williams

    IMAP is the preferred protocol for email, as it facilitates a synchronized experience for the user.

    Lack of POP3 support is the least of the worries for the Surface.

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