Skip Links

Exchange 2010: Webmail features on par with Outlook

By , Network World
April 15, 2009 07:48 AM ET

Network World - End-users accustomed to Web-based access to their personal e-mail through free Internet services such as Google's Gmail, expect the same power and access through a browser for their business e-mail. Exchange 2010 stands up very well to these high expectations.

Read a story about Exchange 2010 from the e-mail administrator's perspective
Slideshow: Screenshots of the Exchange 2010 interface

Exchange 2010's Web client is easier to use thanks to features such as threaded messaging (which sorts and groups messages by subject line) and single-screen in-box (which lets you see all your messages without having to click "Next screen"). Microsoft added strong server-side search features in Exchange 2007, and these are extended to the Web client (and mobile device clients) in Exchange 2010. This gives you access to your entire message store, even if you're on a device that has no local mail storage.

Exchange 2010 also includes a helpful new feature called "MailTips," which pops up information messages about e-mail you're composing. For example, if you're sending a message to someone who has set a vacation message, MailTips pops up this information while you're addressing the message. The version we tested had several examples, including warnings about sending binary attachments (such as .EXE files) which recipients might not be able to open, sending to large distribution lists, and sending to lists with off-network members. In our testing, we found MailTips didn't work, but Microsoft explained that this was the only feature in Outlook 2010 in the beta that wasn't available for us to test.

Exchange 2010 adds some important changes for non-Internet Explorer browsers by officially and fully supporting both Firefox and Safari with its Premium version of the Outlook Web Access client. In our testing, while Firefox and Safari do get a better experience than in the past, they aren't quite at parity with the Internet Explorer experience. For example, a number of features -- such as MailTips and drag-and-drop of attachments – simply don't work. Additionally, Exchange 2010 managed to crash our Safari browser several times. Some of these issues will likely be resolved as Exchange 2010 moves from beta to full release.

Some of the most interesting features on the user side relate to the ability for users to control their own environments. Microsoft has moved a number of controls out to the end user, a significant trend in a world where end users are more comfortable with collaboration tools than ever before. This movement is driven in part by Exchange's push into hosted e-mail services, a world where end-user self service is an expected feature.

In Exchange 2010, these self-service features are spilling over into the corporate environment as well. Exchange managers can now allow end users to update their address information, search for delivery reports on messages they've sent or received, and manage and moderate distribution lists. For enterprises that haven't given up on mailing lists handled through Exchange, these features should all reduce help desk calls and significantly improve user satisfaction with their e-mail system. (Again, not all these features are available in browsers other than IE7.)

Our Commenting Policies
Latest News
rssRss Feed
View more Latest News