Blackberry Desktop v6.0 Drops Desktop Email Redirector

Since November of last year I’ve been carrying a T-Mobile issued Blackberry 9700, aka “Bold2.” It’s a very good phone. I have no issues with the device, nor the carrier for that matter. Good hardware. Good service. On the other hand, this past weekend is an interesting indictment of the phones manufacturer, Research In Motion.

This past weekend the Blackberry Desktop application on my home office PC informed me that Blackberry Desktop 6.0 was available, and I should let it do an automatic update. Like an idiot…I did.

The truth of the matter is that I don’t really use much of the Blackberry Desktop software. It’s functions are many, but tend to revolve around sync’ing the handset with Outlook. Simply put, my calendar and contacts are not that dynamic, so I rarely sync the phone with my PC.

However, I absolutely rely on an application called the Blackberry Desktop Redirector to forward email messages from Outlook on my desktop to the phone. Since my employer does not run a Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) the email redirector is the next best way to have tight integration of my business email and the handset.

One problem arises….Blackberry Desktop 6.0 does not include the email redirector…and worse, it automatically uninstalls an existing redirector with no notice to the user. Even the user notes on Blackberry Desktop 6.0, while careful to expound upon its many new features, does not clearly indicate that desktop email redirection is no longer supported.

Users like myself are simply left hung out to dry.

Finding myself no longer able to read email on my phone I had a quick look a T-Mobile online support pages. The carrier was still offering Blackberry Desktop 5.0.1, not having yet caught up to RIMs new release. I downloaded this version and installed it along side v6.0. That did not restore the email redirector.

So I decided to give T-Mobile a call and discuss the situation. Their first tier support staff were quick and courteous, reminding why I like T-Mobile as a carrier. They took only a few minutes to make some notes, then passed me to their Blackberry specialist group.

The Blackberry specialist heard my tale and searched the various resources at her disposal. She found only the same series of recent support forum threads indicating that others were feeling the loss of the email redirector. She could not offer a solution, but promised to forward the matter to management, and suggested that I take it up with RIM directly.

By this time I’d spent a considerable while hunting on RIMs web site. It’s extremely navigable, very easy to the latest release of anything that they offer. But I found it impossible to locate older releases. There is no archive. Their search tool pointed to numerous documents that referenced the software in question, but no links to download the older release code. Also, no statement explaining its absence in the v6.0 release.

In the end I went to a box of old CDs hiding in my office and found the v4.2 release that originally came with my Blackberry Pearl, circa 2007. I was able to install that release of Blackberry Desktop, then upgrade to v5.0.1 and finally get back to the operational state I enjoyed before this little adventure began.

I had killed about five hours in total. RIM was unreachable except by email or forum, referring all support to the carrier. Of course, the carrier had nothing to offer.

An associate who also carries a Blackberry noted that he accesses the corporate email using a web-mail gateway. Ok, that’s possible, but it gives up on push completely. Not an acceptable solution.

To me the lesson in this is very simple. RIM is not being very careful about its software release process. They don’t understand how many people don’t fit nicely into the “enterprise” customer base that they feel they own. On the other hand, they’re making a great effort to compete with Apple’s iPhone & iPad. In their myopia they’ve convinced me that SMB customers may be better served by the Android platform.

My loyalty to the Blackberry has been tested to its limit. My faith in T-Mobile renewed. I suspect that a T-Mobile G2 is in my future.

  • Andre

    I felt the same pain when I (Auto/Accepted) “upgraded” my desktop software for my corp BB, except I was missing my folder redirection. I need to turn on each folder in th BB desktop software when I add a new folder in Outlook.

    Took me 5 minutes to realize it wasn’t there, had our IT guy confirm my sanity, and then downgrade.

    With the mounting competition to RIM, not great timing.

  • Kevin Harger

    Thanks for sharing. I have come to Hate RIM too. Hate is a very strong word, but it really fits here. I have replaced 5 BB in 6 years bcus of the trackballs. T-MO gave me a free 8900 replacement bcus RIM refused to replace a 6mo old curve 8900 that had “another” bad trackball. Now they have a trackpad…. hmmm I’m done with them. I’m gona have to switch to us cellular and get the droid that just shipped. Hate to leave tmo after 9 years, but they don’t have good phones other than rim. what a shame.

    • I agree T-Mo’s choice of hardware has been lackluster. That may be changing with the G2, which looks like a solid Android phone on their faster HSPA+ network. The inclusion of a real keyboard also makes a big difference for me.

      Although, I am one of the few people remaining who doesn’t really like or use GMail. I’m wondering how Exchange integration with Android works.

  • Greg

    Assuming your company supports Outlook over HTTP, you will love the Outlook Integration with Android. Push emails with full calendar and contact sync. The only thing that I haven’t figured out is searching the Company Directory which I could do when I was on Windows Mobile.

  • Larry C

    Michael, you probably looked into this already, but does your company provide access to the server either through the POP3 or IMAP protocols? If they do, then you can use Tmobile’s BIS server to provide you with direct push email and you can ditch the redirector completely.

    Also, I don’t know anything about your employer and their Exchange setup, but would it be possible to convince them to install a BES server for blackberry-carrying employees? RIM offers a free BES Express server for small companies http://na.blackberry.com/eng/services/business/server/express/ that would completely solve your problem.

    • I tried this over the weekend. It’s not the easiest thing to do, mostly because I had to hunt around to find the url for the T-Mo BIS server setup.

      Once I got there I tried to enter my account credentials, but it could not reach the Exchange server so the setup failed.

      I emailed our IT staff to find out of IMAP is exposed without requiring a VPN login. It’s a holiday in the UK today so I don’t expect to hear about that until later in the week.

  • Gary

    Version 4.7 was the last software issue to keep the redirector. You can still download this version from Blackberry’s website. Once you’re in the Desktop Manager software section, look on the bottom of the page, a link will say “download earlier versions”. Agree, unbelievable they removed this great feature. I rely on it heavily and is the main reason I stay with Blackberry.