back to article Microsoft dumped after India PM's emails go AWOL

The office of the Indian Prime Minister has reportedly ditched Microsoft's Outlook for open-source email following a computer virus that caused a massive breakdown in communications. The PMO has dumped Outlook Express for SquirrelMail, it has emerged, following an outage that saw emails go missing and unanswered during a three …


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  1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Outlook *Express*?

    Outlook *Express*!!!

    Lets be fair here... this abortion of a virus propagator and occasional e-mail client has no right to still exist, let alone to be used for anything even remotely, feasibly, possibly important. Even MS have tried to disown it as much as possibly and, very sensibly, re-wrote something pretty much from scratch for Vista (incidently they also fixed the insanely stupid "everything all in one file" storage system in the Vista mail client as well).

    Anybody that still uses it really gets what they deserve.

  2. James O'Brien

    Why do I need a title?

    Let me get this right. . .



    /give me a beer and my coat I give up.

  3. Simon

    Outlook or Outlook Express?

    Seems the Indian PMO was using Outlook Express, not Outlook (though El Reg doesnt seem to realise there is a difference).

    Considering they obviously dont want to spend any money on IT, moving to an open source email solution is probably not going to fix the underlying issues they have...

  4. Gabriel Vistica
    Gates Horns


    "It took the Government techies so much time to realize that the email system of the most powerful man in India was not working properly for 3 months!"

    That is pathetic.

  5. Ian North


    It's a bigger WTF that he was using Outlook Express, surely?

  6. Sampler

    Outlook Express?

    Title is incredulous enough - surely they'd have some....nevermind

  7. Charlie Barnes
    Gates Horns


    "It took the Government techies so much time to realize that the email system of the most powerful man in India was not working properly for 3 months!"

    3 months? It takes me 7 months to read my email on outlook.

  8. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    Kidding me, right?

    They were using Outlook Express... for critical emails...

    FFS, maybe they should have just been using IncrediMail.

    Paris, because she's retarded, too.

  9. Stu

    Outlook EXPRESS???

    Oh c'mon, Outlook *Express*? Please don't tell me that any businesses rely on that, let alone nations. Thunderbird beats it hands down as a POP/IMAP client, but I still wouldn't use it for business. If it was Outlook proper (you know, the one that talks to Exchange Server, the one that half the civilised world use), then the story would be "India's PM dumps MS", but actually the story is "India's PM's technical staff are fucking retarded".

    Well that's what you get if you pay techies $5 an hour...

  10. PAPA
    Gates Halo

    Outlook isnt a mailserver

    The tech people must be really dumb over there, outlook express isnt a mail server its a client you dumb jerks! whats the difference anyway everything in india is pirated so they werent paying for MS software anyway HA!

  11. James

    WOW thats fast

    No seriously thats actually quite quick for any government department.

    It took 6 months for the UK to notice that the recession was upon us. Its taking almost a year for GB to notice that he f it up 10 years ago with no regulation.

    It took 60 visits by a social worker and then the baby actually dieing before the county council noticed that the child wasnt being looked after.

    so in context of goverments 3 months is hardley a blink of an eye.

    If only the UK give would go open source, at least all the millions spent on blundered IT projects wouldn't just be written off as "licensing" agreements.

  12. Chris Miller

    I can explain

    Maybe they outsource their email support to India. Oh, hang on ...

  13. adnim

    It has been said above

    3 month to realise something is amiss.

    Outlook Express for email coms.( don't matter which email server it gets mails from)

    and I am struggling to find work! ffs.

    I am dumb compared some, but jeez I am a genius compared to those responsible for the security of India PM's IT systems

  14. Chronos

    Should have been called...

    ...Instant Excuse. "I didn't get an e-mail about a test ban. What are you on about?"

  15. Wyrmhole

    The outlook express :(

    E-mail train derails.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Don't blame IT

    Don't blame IT on this one. If the user doesn't report the problem how are IT supposed to know. If they did know then they could have advised a simple reboot to sort the problem out (c'mon, this is Windows). Can't excuse IT for letting them use OE though!!

    And for those saying use Outlook? Hmm. Lookout Express is a piss poor program but actually stepping up to 'slightly warmer and less yellowy' piss poor isn't much of a solution. Unfortunately idiots decide what we use and they think Microsoft == good! Luckily I have a choice and my email client just works!! And it is not MS crap!

    on a side note: To Chris Miller Posted Tuesday 17th March 2009 23:15 GMT

    Hilarious. But it makes you think. Do they outsource their stuff to America?

  17. David Eddleman

    For those of you who haven't used Squirrelmail

    It's worse than Outlook. Seriously. Our old-ass Ensim servers use it and it's bloody horrid.

  18. Craig

    To echo others - WTF?

    "ditched Microsoft's Outlook [Express] for open-source email following a computer virus that caused a massive breakdown in communications"

    So rather than deal with the virus that caused the problem they blame the mail client and switch mail clients in the hope that will overcome the original problem... Okay so even I don't use Outlook Express, in fact I find it madenning when a corporate entity or public authority doesn't use a MAPI-capable mail client. At least if they were using a decent mail and collaboration platform such as those offered by Lotus, IBM or Microsoft then they would have been able to retrieve the 'missing' emails.

    Next time you call BT for broadband technical support, just remember that the best IT staff in India are working for the PM.

    As an afterthought, maybe those emails arrived safe and sound afterall. With only a single copy of an email held in a dbx file as part of Outlook Express's mail store it's very easy to hit the delete button then compress the message store - voila, all trace of the original message purged forever. Sounds like the sort of mail system governments must love!

  19. Simon

    @Chris Miller

    Arse, I just spit coffee all over my keaybored. ;-)

    Thanks for that! :-))

  20. Darkwolf


    Not trying to defend MS but:

    Outlook / outlook express is an email client that resides on the computer. If pop is used, this then downloads all emails off of the server to the client computer.

    Squirrelmail is a webbased php program for accessing email. This keeps emails on the server.

    Outlook / outlook express, setup to use IMAP rather then POP will result in emails not being lost if client computer gets virus, as the emails will be saved on the server.

    How long before he quits receiving emails because the tech staff forgot that he saves all emails, and the storage is only 10mb

  21. Moss Icely Spaceport

    I see a connection here....

    Did he expect an email from The Bishop of Manchester?

    Could be related !!!

  22. Tom

    People are still using Outlook express?

    Some of you sound shocked. Why mock those using it when MS are still pushing it?

    You say Vista has fixed all the problems - India cant afford a supercomputer to run it, let alone the retraining costs and the downtime for the downgrade.

    And as for the 3 months to notice something was amis I'm sure the post office infroms you when letters arnt delivered to, and G Brown must respond to you instantly.

    The only mistake India made was to follow the herd and buy 'We're do you want to got today?' 'No,no not there...' MS.

  23. Frank

    Webmail For Nuts

    Yes, Squirrel Mail advertises itself as 'webmail for nuts', how cute and friendly. More to the point, taken from their website:-

    "We are sorry to announce that we've had a security breach with our plugins system. An attacker uploaded at least four modified plugin packages, which we have since rectified. If you have downloaded any of the following plugins since January 17, 2009, you should immediately replace them (download them again): "

    The Indian government techies have a strange way of choosing e-mail clients.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Thats nuts...!

    Squirrelmail is a decent browser based mail client but it's not without its problems particularly (in earlier versions at least) rendering HTML mail, attachment handling, support for multiple mail account profiles and performance issues with large mailboxes (even with multithreaded indexing enabled).

    On the client Thunderbird or Evolution mail are more likely to have been deployed as replacements for Outlook.

    That any security, performance or cost concious organisation should dump M$ Exchange on the mail server for UNIX / Sendmail / Qmail or similar is no real suprise.

    Having said that when you consider the costs of hiring / training highly skilled technicians and engineers to run critical infrastructure superficial open-source migration costs savings are lessened. But the clear benefit is that you gain a genuinely skilled and adaptable engineering staff rather than a bunch of M$ point-and-clickware morons.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isn't it more likely..

    .. that the mail server is at fault here, not the client, all the client does is get teh email adn show it, if emails went missing either the client pc is infected with all kind of crap (no client can help if the pc is already infected) or , more likely, that the mail server is at fault. I.E. not outlook!

    Why is this article on a tech site when its so lacking in information?

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Maybe they are the same...

    team that looks after Orange's Tech Support

    It took them 6 months, 3 million escalations in India and letter from the Small Claims court to enter a bloody MAC address into a database...

  27. bass daddy


    their proper techies have all buggered off abroad

  28. Dino

    Re: It has been said above

    To admin,

    I hear you and know the feeling exactly... my forehead wears thin every time I press my hands upon it with disbelief of the nonsense going on...

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    non techy techies

    "we saw the Outlook Express was not working"

    what the hell sort of grammar is that? My bet is it was working fine but they were too retarded to use it; as proven by the fact they let a virus into government machines.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ministers and email.

    To be fair, I’ve worked on government ministers PCs (not India) and found them to go largely unused. They have support staff who handle their communications. Remember what a big deal it was when President Obama got to keep his Blackberry. So it’s possible the missing emails weren’t spotted due to a combination of volume sent and staff errors.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Thank you, please email again

    ..and how many emails a day do a i get asking me to outsource to india?

    and i think i will pass, remember if you pay peanuts you get monkeys

    paris - she likes to spank monkeys

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Squirrelmail has an awful webmail client.

    Or at least, Virgin Media's implementation of it is awful. I haven't seen any others but it looks fairly generic (apart from the massive stupid red bar and pointless Google search at the top on the VM implementation).

    I never thought I'd say this but I'd... rather... use... Outlook... Expr...

    No, I can't say it after all.

  33. Paul Simmonds

    Let's be fair here....

    I would never be considered as a fan of "our friends in Redmond", but you have to admit that anyone using Outlook Express for any form official email system has to be very naive and any problems have to be considered as partly self-inflicted.

    I think that in India at least Outlook Express will now carry a government health warning!

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Chris Miller


  35. Simon B
    Thumb Down

    World 1st - A programme that is immune to the worlds viruses!

    The office of the Indian Prime Minister has reportedly ditched Microsoft's Outlook for open-source email following a computer virus that caused a massive breakdown in communications.

    It doesn't matter WHAT email client you have, a virus will bugger up any computers email I'd have thought! Or is squirrel immune to viruses that wipe files, block ports etc!!!

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    And India does plenty of outsourcing in IT? It show how IT in India is sub-par in quality.


  37. Glenn

    Been there, seen that ...

    Only three months, they had some outside help, obviously.

  38. Adam Salisbury


    Couldn't have said it better myself!!

  39. kain preacher


    And we are outsourcing to India why ?? They can't even realize you get a virus , you disinfect the computer. Instead they change e-mail client cause the say its a piece of crap. Hmm Virus and files missing on a computer. <sarcasm>The two can't be related . They just can't .</sarcasm>

  40. Gordon Crawford

    tech suport

    I'm sorry , I can't understand you , do you have somebody who talks in understandable English , or can we invent a word in Indian that will convey what it is that i can do to fix this.

    lol probably figured out the same answer as me , Indian tech support sucks !

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Government of the people

    Frankly I think "sorry, we've had a computer virus" as an excuse for completely ignoring the views of their electorate is better than our Government's brazen contempt for those who put/keep them in their jobs - at least they made an effort with their BS ...

  42. Anonymous Coward

    @kain preacher

    Why do you think we outsource to India? Because they're cheap! Sod the training and experience of the home grown lot, they cost too much. <sarcasm> As long as they can answer the phone and can say "Which version of Internet Explorer are you using", what's the beef? </sarcasm>

    Seriously! I called up to report a fault in a dial-up server and they ask me which version of IE I am using*! My answer? Unbroadcastable.

    *Especially as I was using RISC OS at the time!!!

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Don't Understand

    I have been personally assured by many H1-B engineers that everything Indian is better, faster and most important of all cheaper than anything that could be found in the states. Further that all of our security concerns are unfounded and that not even physical access control is necessary. This is therefore an end-user issue and who needs all that old email anyway?

  44. Ali

    Nowt wrong with OE

    Why is everyone bashing Outlook Express? I've used it for the past seven years, is perfect for my needs - a simple and sturdy email client - and I've never had a problem with it. Never had a email virus either, but the email server is mostly to thank for that as it uses blacklists, whitelists, and greylisting, as well as virus scanning all emails before they are released for download to OE. I presently have just under 1Gb of emails stored in my OE .dbx folders (which are backed up daily), and OE shows no sign of slowing down.

    It's not what you use that's important, it's how you use it and the security measures you take to safeguard your data.

    As others have said, If the Indian PMO has lost emails, then they need to find out why, and not just blame OE. I very much doubt that the problem lies with OE.

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