Office 365’s Rule Limitations Are Really %$#!ing Me Off

When I joined Ellen, one of the first things I did was to move us to cloud based Exchange for eamil.  At the time the service was called BPOS.

As I was setting up the service, Ellen mentioned to me that her rules had not been operating correctly. Emails were not ending up where they belonged. We both hoped that moving to Exchange would solve the problem. It didn’t, actually the problem seemed worse. But this time I had an error message to work with, which lead me to be able to identify the problem.

It seems that Outlook (the program) has a limited amount of space for rules, 64k.  Ellen, a power user of Outlook, not too surprisingly, uses a lot of rules.  She had reached the maximum in the program, and frankly, was wondering if she was going a bit crazy from missing emails. I don’t understand why Outlook doesn’t have some kind of message when you reach the memory cap.  The reason the problem was worse in BPOS is because BPOS only provided 32k of space for rules.

I immediately contacted Microsoft and they upped Ellen’s space to 64k, but given she was having problems already at that space, I knew it wouldn’t be enough. The representative at Microsoft had to ask special permission, we had to prove we had optimized the rules and that Ellen really needed the memory.  It took about a month and a lot of pestering on my part, but finally I got the rules limitation raised to 128k. If there is rule Nirvana, this was it.

Unfortunately, about a month ago we were forced to move to Office 365 and the problem immediately returned. It seems that in its wisdom, Microsoft upped the rule memory to 64k for everybody, but completely removed any ability to raise the memory higher. I had a good bit of back and forth with tech support about this, but essentially was blown off.

I contacted some folks at Microsoft with whom I had spoken for other reasons, they were more than willing to chat with me and were as helpful as they could be. Ellen wrote them a strongly worded email about the importance of rules and the ability to use them. The folks at Microsoft were surprised to find out how many people complained about the rule memory limitation, apparently the problem had already been noted.  They told me they would file a special “bug” report with Microsoft, offer a business reason as to why the limitation should be changeable on a case-by-case basis, and would be in touch as soon as they had an answer.

This, of course, leaves Ellen, along with other heavy rule users, in a very bad situation. I was told by Microsoft that we should shorten the names of the rules, because this would free up some memory. I did so, changing all of the rules to, at most, 2 letters. This still didn’t solve the problem. I also followed all other suggestions by Microsoft, still not good enough. So here we are, waiting for Microsoft to fix the problem so Ellen can use rules the way they are meant to be used.

Ellen has written a post about this from the perspective of the individual who is greatly impacted by this limitation. I commend it to you because it is excellent reading.

If you have the same concern, consider emailing Microsoft and letting them know that the rule memory limitation, both in Office itself as well as 365, is really much too low and should be increased.  The more people who contact Microsoft about this problem the better. The phone number for Microsoft support is  (866) 764 5574 and the website is Tell them Ellen sent you.

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