Long Live Nancy DAVolio, and DAV!

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/06/20 10:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2008/06/20/8620949.aspx

I've always had a soft spot for Nancy Davolio.

One of the fictional employees from the Northwind Traders sample database that shipped with Access for so long, she was just synmbolic of something that I can't fully explain that I liked about Micrsoft Access back during the Access 95 beta (all the others from the database, like Laura Callahan and all the others -- had their fans. But I was a Davolian, all the way, which made the first time I saw her in the halls of Building 1 really awkward!).

The low resolution picture from the database hardly does her justice:

Somewhere around here I have an actual posed picture of me and the woman from the access User Education team whose face was used for Nancy, who I met when I was working on the "Publoish to the Web" wizard for Access 95, during the 97 development cycle. I couldn't find it but the above one is good enough for our present purposes. :-)

I wonder -- there are few people left on the Access team who will even recognize who this is; some of the youngest folks I know from the team weren't even in high school back then! Could anyone there identify her? :-)

I suppose I really am an old-timer!

Anyway, I was thinking about Nancy Davolio the other day, you see. Right after the topic of DAV came up.

The mail sent to my Hotmail account about a month ago:

Dear Microsoft Outlook Express customer,

Thank you for using Microsoft® Outlook® Express. Our information indicates that you use Outlook Express to access a Windows Live™ Hotmail® e-mail account via a protocol called DAV (Distributed Authoring and Versioning protocol). DAV, like POP3 or IMAP, is the way that a mail client communicates with a web-based mail server.

As a valued customer, we want to provide advanced notice that as of June 30, 2008, Microsoft is disabling the DAV protocol and you will no longer be able to access your Hotmail Inbox via Outlook Express. As an alternative, we recommend that you download Windows Live Mail, a free desktop e-mail client that has the familiarity of Outlook Express and much more. This next generation of free e-mail software will allow you to easily manage multiple e-mail accounts—including Windows Live Hotmail, plus other e-mail accounts that support POP3/IMAP. Better yet, Windows Live Mail integrates well with other Windows Live services, and downloads in minutes. After you provide your user name and password, you will automatically be linked to your Hotmail account, providing continued access to your email and contacts.

We encourage you to download Windows Live Mail at http://get.live.com/wlmail/overview.

And, to make your transition smoother, we've provided answers to frequently asked questions below. 

Again, thank you for your use of Outlook Express and we are confident that you'll be just as delighted with the new Windows Live Mail.

Your Windows Live Mail team

Frequently asked questions:

Why are we disabling DAV?

DAV is a legacy protocol that is not well suited for client access to large inboxes. Over time, as we've provided more e-mail storage to our users—and now offer 5GB inboxes for free—a more efficient access protocol is needed.

What are we replacing DAV with?

We have developed a new, much more efficient protocol called DeltaSynch that is far superior to DAV especially for large e-mail inboxes. It enables email clients to only download changes since the last time the client polled the email server for changes. This is much more efficient and high performing than having to download all the headers in every folder as is the case with DAV.

Is DeltaSynch compatible with Outlook Express?

The new protocol unfortunately is NOT supported by Outlook Express and support would require too many changes to the Outlook Express software.

Is there a different or new mail client I can try that uses DeltaSynch?

Microsoft is providing Windows Live Mail, a free e-mail client that has the familiarity of Outlook Express and much more. This free, next generation email client  enables users to easily manage multiple e-mail accounts including Windows Live Hotmail and other e-mail accounts that support POP3/IMAP. Windows Live Mail also integrates well with other Windows Live services, is optimized to work with Windows Live Hotmail, and offers: 

Where can I download the new Windows Live Mail client?

You can download the new client at http://get.live.com/wlmail/overview.

Now I am not being a dinosaur when I tell you that I read this mail with about the same amount of excitement that one brings to the prospect of a root canal without novicaine. I don't dislike Windows Live Mail, but I am not a diehard "upgrade immediately" kind of guy on my home machines.

Hell, I didn't even move from the Exchange client to Outlook until I had to, and as a consequence I had a client that launched much faster, and I neatly avoided the bulk of the email virus epidemic. Plus with my combination approach of accepting every meeting request but only episodically launching Schedule Plus, I had a built-in affirmative defense for not showing up at meetings -- "Sorry, I forgot to launch Schedule+. Oops!". 

All of which I think proves that being slow to upgrade is not always a bad thing. :-)

I mean, who are these Windows Live Mail people kidding? I copy the mail I want to keep locally and the only time I have had more than even 10mb of storage used was when messages moved to the Deleted Items folder via spam rules had not yet been deleted by the Hotmail servers.

I don't need 5 gigs of storage in this account now and really never plan to. DAV was working just find for me and so was Outlook Express. I have other machines that I run the WL client on, and kind of resented the push. Why couldn't they just say that they were dumping this feature in this old product, and not try to act like they were doing me a favor? I much prefer people to be less smarmy about depriving me of services, you know?

So anyway, I looked toward the end of the month and just decided that on or about the 25th I'd switch over to a gmail account and just call it a day. In the back of my mind was hope that Microsoft would back off of this more aggressive move, but I was hardly going to push that agenda.

Howeer, today's email made me feel much better:

Dear Microsoft Outlook Express customer,

You may have received an e-mail from us letting you know that Microsoft is planning to retire the DAV protocol that Outlook Express uses to access Windows Live Hotmail. In response to customer feedback requesting more time to evaluate alternative solutions, we have decided to postpone retiring DAV and we are investigating other alternatives for accessing Windows Live Hotmail via Outlook Express. This means that if you use Outlook Express to access your Windows Live Hotmail account, you will continue to be able to do so beyond the previously announced June 30 transition deadline. We will be sure to update you once we have additional plans to share and early enough in advance to help ensure a smooth transition in the future.

Additionally, Outlook Express customers that use Windows Vista or Windows XP are always welcome to download and use our next generation free email client, Windows Live Mail, providing the familiarity of Outlook Express and much more. You can download the new client at http://get.live.com/wlmail/overview.

We appreciate your feedback, and encourage you to continue to provide it.


Windows Live Mail Team

This is very good, and omce again underscores the benefits of not being so eager to jump in and do stuff just to get it done.

They say the early bird gets the worm, though to that I have three answers (which one I use depends on who is saying it and my mood at the time):

So we'll see what they come up with, and in the meantime allow me to thank the customers who did not go softly into that good night on this one. You rock! :-)

Nancy would have been so proud....

This blog brought to you by(U+13a0, aka CHEROKEE LETTER A)

Knox on 20 Jun 2008 12:12 PM:

So your strategy is to only eat OLD dogfood, is that right?   :)

jmdesp on 20 Jun 2008 12:55 PM:

The thing is that several people have reversed engineered DAV, enabling non-Microsoft application to use it, but apparently it's not yet the case for DeltaSynch.

Michael S. Kaplan on 20 Jun 2008 2:23 PM:

Hey Knox --

Well, it depends -- on lots of machines I tend to run newest stuff. But I'm not a zealot about it, and some machines I prefer not to muck with what they do or how they work. :-)

Mihai on 20 Jun 2008 6:08 PM:

Right. Another proprietary protocol that can only be used by exactly one proprietary tool.

Obviously, IMAP was too standard.

Michael S. Kaplan on 21 Jun 2008 2:02 AM:

If one owns the client and one owns the server, and one had no particular plan or desire to break that specific relationship, where does using an open standard benefit, exactly?: :-)

GregM on 21 Jun 2008 5:32 PM:

The customer that doesn't want to be locked in to your client.

Michael S. Kaplan on 21 Jun 2008 7:12 PM:

How exactly are they locked in when the client supports both pop3 for incoming and smtp for outgoing?

And of course they are free to install the gazillion other clients too.

Or use lots of other mail providers (I myself am considering gmail if I ever have to change clients, as I said).

Who is locked in, exactly?

Yuhong Bao on 8 Jul 2008 2:16 AM:

Not that I recommend this just to avoid viruses. I mean, that is a kind of security by obscurity. It is like disabling ACPI just because of IRQ sharing.

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