IMAP going away?

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Joined: October 17th, 2017, 12:15 pm

Post Posted October 17th, 2017, 12:20 pm

My email is hosted on Godaddy's server. They are telling me that IMAP email is going away (30 year technology) and will eventually not be supported. They are saying that I need to switch to their exchange server. Part of me thinks this is a ploy to get me to switch plans, however, it won't cost me any money to switch, so that makes me wonder if what they are saying is true. They said that Thunderbird currently doesn't support exchange server and relies on IMAP.

Can you please give me some advice? Will you be developing a Thunderbird update that doesn't rely on IMAP?


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Post Posted October 17th, 2017, 2:52 pm

This forum is not run by or formally associated with Mozilla despite the similarity in names. We're just a user community. However, I've been monitoring the mail on the tb-planning mailing list used by the Thunderbird developers to discuss issues. Its possible GoDaddy might drop support for IMAP for business reasons, but it wouldn't be due to a problem with IMAPs popularity. The Thunderbird developers have no plans to drop IMAP support.

Thunderbird supports POP and IMAP accounts. POP will not disappear but there is a long term trend to move from POP to IMAP. ISPs were reluctant to add support for IMAP as it required more hard disk storage. Gmail added support for IMAP in October 2007. Its popularity (and cheaper hard disks) has helped drive the transition from POP to IMAP. Its now common for ISPs to offer IMAP support. But these types of transitions are always slow. The Thunderbird developers view IMAP as the future and POP as a legacy technology.

There is a potential successor to IMAP called JMAP (faster, compatible with the IMAP data model) being standardized by the IETF but its unclear if it will succeed, and how many years it will take before its popular enough the general public ever hears of it. The Thunderbird developers have speculated about adding support for JMAP in a future version of Thunderbird. Right now their focus is on how to deal with several Mozilla technologies that they use being deprecated by Firefox. Thunderbird is a free, open source, cross platform email client that uses industry standards for the Internet. It supports the POP, IMAP and SMTP protocols. It would be a major effort and significant expense to add EWS support. They've resisted adding support for ExtendedMAPI. I can't see them adding support for EWS.

Microsoft appears to be migrating from ExtendedMAPI to Exchange Web Services (EWS) . ExtendedMAPI is now considered a legacy API. Both are Microsoft proprietary solutions and have not been submitted for standardization by the IETF. Exchange servers also provide the option of installing support for POP, IMAP and SMTP servers (industry standards). They also provide support for ActiveSync, another Microsoft proprietary protocol used for synching email, contacts, calendar, tasks, and notes from a messaging server to a smartphone or tablet.

EWS has a solid niche but I'm not aware of any reason why it would kill off IMAP. If anything, the reverse is slowly happening due to Microsoft slowly losing its dominance. Smartphones are slowly evolving into becoming essentially mobile PCs. They're helping drive acceptance of IMAP as its a natural solution for a smartphone email client.

Note: Thunderbird also supports Movemail accounts. They move mail from a user's Unix/Linux mailspool to another file. Because its targeting a niche it has been dropped from the new account wizard, and you have to edit the settings manually to convert a POP to a Movemail account. Its now a legacy account type that most users never heard of.

Posts: 2
Joined: October 17th, 2017, 12:15 pm

Post Posted October 17th, 2017, 2:58 pm

I have to admit that I was a bit confused. Thank you for helping me understand.

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