Microsoft Outlook users are already familiar with this behavior from the mobile app: After setting up an IMAP account, the software redirects the e-mails via Microsoft’s Azure server. After Microsoft Office updates, this now also happens on Mac computers.
A reader pointed out to us that the direct retrieval of an IMAP account that was previously set up for him is now also taking detours via Azure. The account data ends up in Microsoft’s cloud, and from there the mail retrieval takes place. Apparently, users are not informed of this change and therefore no consent is obtained.
Outlook: Remedy by setting up a new account
In order to retrieve the e-mails directly from the IMAP account, those affected must first delete the account and also choose to disconnect from all devices. They can then set up the account again, disabling the Microsoft Sync option.
Upon request, Microsoft confirmed the behavior of the Office for Mac and the solution: “By synchronizing a user’s IMAP account with the Microsoft cloud, Outlook can offer additional functionality within the app. If users want to connect their accounts directly without using the Microsoft cloud to sync, you can turn off the ‘Sync to Microsoft Cloud’ feature when adding a new account.” A support article from Microsoft explains the procedure.
Tip: Check for Office update
Microsoft’s article does not provide any information on how to prevent this behavior. Therefore, after updating the software, Microsoft Office users should check whether the settings may have been changed. Especially if you do not want the access data and e-mails to flow through Microsoft’s server or if you have data protection concerns in this regard.
The change in behavior of the mobile app came into effect back in 2015. At the time, Microsoft explained that this would solve functions such as push notifications about new incoming e-mails.
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