BlackBerry Enterprise Server 4.1 SP5 – Preview, Feature Enhancements and more!

During this morning’s Connecting with the Experts BlackBerry webinar, Research In Motion unveiled the upcoming service pack release to their BlackBerry Enterprise Server solution. To say that this is simply an update is a vast and gross understatement. This service pack promises to be the most feature-rich release of BES… ever! End-users are going to go ‘gah gah’ over this release, due out in late February.

We’ll move on forward straight to the meat and cover some of the features, most of which have already been discussed – without pictures – quite in depth on forums and news sites and blogs across the world. These features, as noted in the slides, will require OS 4.3.1, which is forecasted for all 8000 series devices sometime in late Q4 2007 or Q1 2008.

Rich Content Email Rendering
You’ve asked for it for years, now you have it. HTML and Rich Text email rendering for your color-rich device. While this basically covers inline images and font rendering, it adds a bit of life to the messages formally known as text-only. One thing to keep in mind is this will be similar to browsing webpages, in terms of download speeds and page loading. Hallelujah for no more broken HTML code in emails, though.

Remote Email Search and Download
Ever have one of those "OH SH*T!" moments of enlightenment after accidentally deleting an email from your device? Perhaps you only received a message in your mailbox but need it on your BlackBerry? Well, your prayers have now been answered. Search your mailbox from your device and retrieve messages for viewing and storage on your device. Amazing feature addition!

Free/Busy Lookup
Scheduling an appointment from your device but end up having a lot of declined messages because you can’t see attendees’ availability? Once again, another feature that makes absolutely perfect sense but simply never made it into the solution in previous years.

Native File Email Attachment Download
While I won’t find any use for this, I’m sure some may. You will now be able to download attachments without BES conversion to your device’s memory card for viewing on a laptop (not your own or not connected) and various other purposes.

From an administration standpoint, unless something has slipped, OTASL (wireless OS upgrades) will be included to help administer OS life-cycle updating procedures and provide a nice reduction in total cost of ownership for device management. The framework was put in place during the BES 4.1 SP4 update, although no administration or device support was included.

Look on at the included slides for more information on these features, as well as upcoming features in BES 5.0 ("ARGON").

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