Users are reporting that Outlook 2007 is immensely slow for POP3 email retrieval, because of an elementary error in the way it negotiates with email servers.
Specifically, it sends AUTH as the first command after connection. The server rejects this with an error response. The ensuing time-outs and consequent errors result in much slower mail retrieval, though it does arrive eventually.
I have 8 POP3 accounts that OL 2003 used to query in a minute or two (with 80 spams downloaded). OL 2007 takes 6 minutes. Plus I reckon there are other problems in the UI threading…..
I’ve not yet tested this myself, but will do shortly. It has a kind of horrific plausibility, since everyone at Microsoft uses Exchange for email, not POP3. Therefore POP3 performance will receive much less scrutiny, though you would have thought that the wider beta testing would have picked it up.
I think we will here a lot more about Outlook 2007 performance issues in the coming months, unless Microsoft comes up with a speedy fix for this and other problems.
I’ve run some tests of my own and looked up some RFCs, with a little help from the microsoft.public.outlook.general newsgroup.
I tried Outlook 2007 with two POP3 servers. One is dovecot; the other is also running on Linux though I’m not sure which POP3 daemon it is. With dovecot, my ethernet trace does show a sequence similar to the one the above users are complaining about, something like:
Server: +OK dovecot ready.”
Server: -ERR Unsupported authentication mechanism
However, there is no significant delay introduced; it goes right ahead with user and password.
On the other POP3 server AUTH is again sent, but this time does not trigger an error.
There is something that puzzles me though: according to RFC 1734 AUTH should be followed by an authentication mechanism, not left without an argument. And there doesn’t appear to be any need to send AUTH at all in the standard plain setup.
The lack of an argument would explain the error the other users saw:
Server: -ERR An authentication mechanism MUST be entered
May be an email guru can tell me definitively whether Outlook is in the wrong here. However, it strikes me that the problem is only making a minor contribution to the poor performance. Even the timeout of 3 seconds which the user CW refers to is hardly going to make a huge difference.
That said – the fact remains that Outlook 2007 does have performance issues.