HTML rendering removed from BES 4.1 SP5; delayed until SP6…?

According to a post made a few days ago, it seems that Research In Motion has decided to temporarily pull the most anticipated feature of BlackBerry Enterprise Server 4.1 SP5 – HTML and Rich Text email rendering.

While this seems rather skeptical at first glance, this information gains a lot of merit with the removal of this particularly important enhancement from atop the feature list on RIM’s official "What’s New" page for the upcoming SP5 release overview.  The page had previously read: 

Support for HTML and Rich Text email¹ allows BlackBerry smartphone users to receive email messages with their original formatting preserved
     Users can read email more easily, view embedded images, hyperlinks, tables, bullets, numbering and indentation

As there has been no official statement from RIM on the removal of HTML email from SP5, we will have to wait until next Tuesday for the general availability release of the service pack. Given that RIM showcased HTML and Rich Text email support, amongst other features, during the February 21 webcast, it seems rather late in the process to remove such a ‘vital’ feature from the release… then again, this past Friday morning, the release date of SP5 slipped from February 29 to March 11, so this may very well be the explanation for the 11-day delay.

Perhaps some consolation is the quick release of SP6, which we learned during the February 21 webcast Q&A session would finally offer support for Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007. The availability of SP6, as mentioned in a forum post, will be June 2008. I have recently heard ramblings of an announcement and possible release of SP6 at the Wireless Enterprise Symposium, which is being held in Orlando on May 13-15, so these timeframes do hold some weight. Regardless, with Exchange support coming for the iPhone tomorrow, you have to wonder what the hell Research In Motion is doing over there in Canada.

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