Email Campaigns on Windows Phone (Part 1: Outlook Mobile)

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Outlook Mobile is the official name for the native mail app in Windows Phone 7 and 8 series devices where all types of mail accounts are all stored and accessed from. Outlook Mobile has been an interesting area to explore from an email design/campaign point of view because of its different behaviours depending on key parameters. In this three part series, I document the foundations of the Windows Phone mail app and its different behaviours when used with different email account types on various Windows Phone OS versions.

The boring behind the scenes work

In order to discover why Outlook Mobile renders emails differently across different versions of Windows Phone, I developed a basic rendering test email template. This email contained every possible way of detecting various characteristics of Outlook Mobile when using different account types, ranging from IE conditional comments, CSS3 support tests and other feature detections methods. The reason I did this is to understand what the mail app is doing when rendering email in each different version of Windows Phone.

Environments/Resources I used to test Outlook Mobile on Windows Phone

An exhaustive list of everything I used to validate/test the content in this series about Outlook Mobile on Windows Phone 7 and 8. If you ever wanted to test emails for yourself on all versions of Windows Phone, this list should get you started on what you need.

  • Windows Phone 7.0/7.1 and 8.0/8.1 SDK
  • A couple of unlocked SDK emulator images for Windows Phone 7
  • This cheeky workaround to gain access to email accounts within the Windows Phone 7 emulator
  • Windows 7 to run older Windows Phone 7 SDK emulator images pre WP7.5
  • Windows 8.1 Pro with Hyper-V to deploy 8.0/8.1 SDK emulator images
  • Command line experience for invoking various commands with XDE.exe
  • Lumia 800 for testing various WP7 versions on a real device by flashing different OS builds.
  • Lumia 925 to test Windows Phone 8.1 and 8.1 GDR1 on a real device (My actual phone)

Mail accounts supported on Windows Phone

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Mail accounts are handled by the generic accounts functionality in Windows Phone where both mail and social media accounts can be setup. All mail accounts are accessed within Outlook Mobile. This is a list of all the main mail accounts Windows Phone supports (at this time of writing):

  • Exchange/Office 365
  • Outlook.com (Formerly Hotmail.com)
  • Yahoo! Mail
  • Google (Gmail)
  • iCloud
  • IBM Notes Traveler (added in Nokia Cyan Firmware)
  • Generic POP3/IMAP
  • Advanced setup

Advanced setup basically means you can configure any type of account within Outlook Mobile with the correct server settings, when configuring manually you can either sync with POP3/IMAP or Exchange ActiveSync (EAS). When using the pre-created account types, this part is chosen for you.

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The three protocols Windows Phone can sync mail accounts with, Exchange ActiveSync, POP3 or IMAP

In older versions of Windows Phone, some options for these pre-configured account setups services might not be directly available but in theory could still be setup through the Advanced Setup option with the correct server details.

Investigating different email account types

Now that the foundation of how email works in Windows Phone has been established, continue reading onto the next part where I look at POP3/IMAP based mail accounts. The links to next parts in series are below:

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