Once again, Microsoft sets new standards in user-hostility

The primary Heathen machine developed a hardware fault, so I’m working on a backup and was, until about an hour ago, happy using webmail for both personal and work stuff. Our work tool is Exchange, which means the webmail is Outlook Web Access (OWA). OWA is, generally, not awful, but I just ran into some pretty annoying shit.

One of our products uses an Access database to store some data. A client’s having a problem today, so they sent me their DB so I can try to track down the issue. No worries, right? You’d think that, but…

It turns out OWA blocks Access files as “potentially unsafe.” There appears to be no way to convince OWA to allow those files through. “Oh well,” I thought, “I’ll just set up an IMAP account.” IMAP is easy and simple and means my mail won’t get out of sync despite using multiple computers. For the sake of variety and education, I decided I’d try Entourage, Microsoft’s Mac-side Outlook-like thingy.

Setup was easy, but it took about 2 minutes before I wanted to strangle someone.

It turns out Entourage won’t let me have the database files, either. The help file says:

An attachment to a message was blocked.

Cause: For security reasons, Entourage blocks attachments that could potentially harm your computer.

  • Solution: If you do not trust that the attachment is safe, delete it from your computer.
  • Solution: If you trust the message sender and want to receive the attachment, ask the sender to compress the file and then send it to you again.

Whisky. Tango. Foxtrot. MS is now fixing their absurdly broken OS’s security problems by crippling their mail programs. Delightful.


I did a bit more digging. It turns out that, if you Google long enough there is a way to disable this nanny feature, but it involves changing a .plist file inside the Entourage bundle in /Applications. It’s totally absurd to put editable settings in /Applications, but never mind that. (Also, this little “feature” is yet another example of how Microsoft is actually not interested in selling software that appeals to users; it’s interested in selling software that appeals to administrators, but what ever.) What’s even more fun is that the list of verboten filetypes is dominated with extensions that are meaningless in the Macintosh context. I can click all day on an EXE file, but it’s not going to run on OSX, so there’s little point in keeping me from downloading it. On the other hand, Office files can and do carry destructive payloads, but .DOC isn’t on the list. Yay Redmond!

Comments are closed.