5 Years of gpg4o – History of a Plugin

07.10.2016 | General

Time flies! October 2016 will be the fifth anniversary of gpg4o. Looking at the changelog of gpg4o one will see, which huge amount of development has been made between then and now.  Often enough we tell the story behind our entry into the market of encryption solutions as a company specialized on Software Security by design and IT-Security. The fifth anniversary of gpg4o is the right time to tell this story to a greater audience:

For almost 20 years we develop software for innovative medical-technical products. To hold these innovations safe, OpenPGP based encryption ever since has beed a core technology including PGP encrypted emails. In the beginnig we used a classic combination of Thunderbird and enigmail. In 2010 we decided for different reasons to move to a Microsoft platform with Exchange and Outlook and of course with the latest version then – 2010. Well we forgot a small but important issue – encrypted email.

Okay – that should not have been a problem in 2010 – right? So we researched the market and found – no plugin for Outlook 2010. There have been enough plugins for Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007 but not for Outlook 2010. Why has it been this way? With Outlook 2010, Microsoft changed the programming API completely. It seemed that manufacturers of Outlook plugins did not see the need yet for new version for 2010 or had decided to leave the market at all.

We thought about what to do: rolling back the infrastructure has not been a reasonable option but: We are software developers and we love complex situations. So the simple question was: Can we do it ourselves with reasonable resources? We could and our team wrote the first alpha and beta versions from what we know today as gpg4o and we learned a lot about the diva Outlook. While we used those first versions for ourselves we busily seeked for a commercial or open source solution to replace it and still found none in the summer of 2011.

We were sure: There must be people and companies out there who could make use of an Outlook 2010 plugin so we dared to enter the market of encryption solutions. gpg4o has been designed to suit the needs of enterprise customer without neglecting private users. Therefore we decided for an easy and transparent pricing model with a price for the license and the price for additional years of maintenance. Lots of people voted for a Home & Student edition which will be replaced by gpg4o Free in October 2016.


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