Microsoft POP3, is it ready for prime time yet?

This past week I was asked a question about the new POP3 service that comes with Windows Server 2003.  Since I hadn't tried it out yet I took the opportunity to install it and learn a bit about it.

My overview-summary-in-a-sentence:  It is VERY basic at this point but might be a good start for someone with simple requirements.

Microsoft already has a powerful email solution in Exchange Server but have included this free POP3 service with Windows Server 2003.  My guess is to give the money-tight web administrator a starter solution to work with. 

What it has:

Basically you can configure the domain name, multiple POP3 accounts and whether or not Secure Password Authentication (SPA) is to be used.  That's about it!  Sure you can change the storage folder, the port and logging level but nothing else of significance.  In fact, there isn't even a property sheet for the domain name or even the ability to rename a domain. 

Note (modification): I received an email from George Sazandrishvili mentioning the ability to support multiple email addresses with the same name.  Here is what he said: "Windows POP3 supports multiple email addresses with the same name. In order to use this feature, the authentication mode should be switched to Encrypted Files. Moreover, this method is very good as it eliminates the need to create Windows accounts for each mailbox. "

What it doesn't have:

Note (modification): It seems that the features that I thought it didn't have are incorrect as you'll note from the two modifications (1 above and 1 below).  So, I've removed a paragraph that was here.

Although there are limited features, there is a place for this.  For the administrator with Windows Server 2003 (all editions) that would like to manage a few email accounts this might be worth considering.  The basic features couldn't get easier, with less than a 1/2 dozen settings it's hard to go wrong.  The most difficult part for someone new to this is setting up the MX records for the domain name.  I found it does what it promises.  It doesn't appear to be buggy or have any issues although I only did some preliminary tests.  I also found it was fast and wasn't resource intensive.

My overview-recommendation-in-two-sentences:  If you have another solution available to you, use it!  But if you want to dabble with managing your own POP3 and you have an available Windows Server 2003 machine, try it out, you can't go wrong. 

Note (modification): Kirk Foutts added a comment about catchalls and aliases.  Here is what he said: "Windows Server 2003 POP3/SMTP does have catch-all and alias ability.  You just need do d/l the scripts from MS. Do a knowledgebase search. I did, it's working fine."


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