Between 60 and 100 million people use Microsoft Office 365. Back in May, Microsoft released an update that broke the junk filters on IMAP email accounts.
Office 365 users with IMAP accounts where the junk filter is set to ‘safe senders only’ are having their inboxes flooded with spam.
Microsoft has been, to say the least, backward in coming forward over its culpability. Google the issue and you’ll find plenty of MS gurus handing out pointless instructions to spam-swamped enquirers on how to check their email settings. But you have dig much deeper to find references to the fact that MS know about all about the problem and are – apparently – working to fix it.
A curious aspect of the issue is that there hasn’t been more online agitation. True, very many 365 installations are corporate and on Exchange servers, which aren’t affected. Perhaps the number of 365 users with IMAP accounts and tight junk settings who’re motivated to seek help or complain is small enough for MS to feel they can take their time over fixing something they broke themselves.
(Just to add insult to injury, since the faulty update, Outlook catches the first spam message after the user adjusts their junk settings – as if to say ‘look, I could do this if I wanted to’ – but then lets through every subsequent crudmail).
Why aren’t more people complaining? Have we become so inured to (a) the inescapability of spam and (b) the frequency with which obvious junk messages get past Outlook that most users just put up with it?
I’m often surprised, when I see other people’s inboxes, at how much spam they regard as normal. In most cases, setting their Outlook filter to safe senders only and ticking the ‘trust messages from my contacts’ box would clean up their inflow marvellously.
As it happens, there is a 100% effective workaround for this Outlook IMAP junk problem: roll back Office updates to May 2017. All the ‘how to’ information you need is in the comments section of the article linked at the top of this post.
Trouble is, you have to turn off automatic Office updates after rolling back or your filters will end up broken again. So, if and when MS cure the problem, you’ll need to know to turn updates back on. It’s rumoured that the fix might be in the September 2017 update.
But since MS aren’t openly admitting that the problem exists, I’ll have to keep on hanging around in arcane corners of Microsoft.com hoping to learn of their unannounced cure for their unannounced mistake.