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Baffling Exchange

I found out yesterday that my university's Microsoft Exchange Server account stopped forwarding my mail on 8 December 2009. As a result, mail accumulated there and remained unseen.

Dear examiners, paper authors, supervisors, sponsors, participants, and peers who responded to my calls and cries related to my PhD thesis. I am terribly sorry that you were subjected to this. You replied usually within a few days, but I still sent you reminder after reminder in the weeks to follow. You must have thought that I was a real dork. Please forgive me. I really appreciate your patience!

I filed a ticket with my university's IT service provider, which got closed the next day with "it should now work again". That wasn't going to cut it for me, so I reopened the ticket, asking for an explanation. Next, I received an apology with a bit of speculation.

After a bit of research, it seems that the reason was to be found in the "inconsistency" of being an external staff member (i.e. an e-mail address outside of the Active Directory domain), but still having an account on the server.

On 8 December 2009, the server was upgraded with a service pack. This caused Exchange to go a little manic on the housekeeping. After all, why would anyone ever want to forward their e-mail elsewhere, and still have an account?

Well, I certainly don't want an account, and yet I have to have one: Microsoft has bought their ways into the university and spread their germs all across, I need credentials to be able to access shared files, print, browse the library, or search the phone book.

However, considering that UL's Outlook Web Access instance does not let users of decent browsers search their mailboxes (a "premium feature" reserved for users of Internet Exploder), one cannot manipulate more than a page-full of e-mails at a time, bounce messages, or do many of the other operations that make dealing with large amounts of e-mail possible, and because Exchange mail — if it doesn't get lost in the first place — sucks in so many other ways, I certainly prefer my mail to be handled by a real mail server with a proper mail filter (writeup in progress).

Maybe the Exchange service pack was simply designed to get rid of outcasts like me who don't buy into the low-Microsoft-quality vendor lock-in? We'll never know, thanks to the proprietarity of their software (and the fact that the university service provider apparently does not keep logs of changes).

NP: AC/DC: Back in Black