Microsoft Outlook as feed reader — if the feed needs any authentication, use IE for that — that’s because Outlook and IE share their cookie store

E.g. Jenkins (the automation server) provides RSS feeds describing job build histories. Perfect means to survey build results, and an approach that comes with Jenkins out of the box, one that does not create and send e-mail messages — a rather stupid overhead.

I got the idea of using Outlook for feed reading, when I came across a recipe in the Jenkins literature describing how to read Jenkins feeds using Firefox. Just recently before I had noticed Outlook’s ability to read RSS feeds. “1 + 1 = 2”. In the corporate environment I worked in then it sounded rather natural to recommend Outlook to read those Jenkins build history feeds.

In one of my early cases Outlook / Exchange refused to load a specific Jenkins feed – but it accepted another one. What was wrong with one but not the other? I first suspected the Exchange server would not see the Jenkins server (“no network route”), which would result in a rather unspecific error message. I created a trouble ticket with the Exchange admin staff. They suggested I should connect to the server and I would get prompted for credentials. I did that before, I thought, but how would Outlook be able to prompt me for RSS feed credentials? I would need a browser for that. Alright, tried my favourite browser and there was a login form. But browsers do not share their cookie store with Outlook, right? All of them? Really? IE does, IE and Outlook share their cookie stores. Tried IE, and from then on Outlook was able to make use of the RSS feed URL in trouble (earlier). Lesson learned. And of course: I described my findings here.


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