Exchange 2010: OWA

Man, it’s been killing me not to talk about OWA 2010. Take a look at this screenshot:

Exchange2010-OWA-1.png

First: this shot’s taken from Safari 4.0 beta 2 on the Mac. That’s right: OWA fully supports Safari on Mac OS X (not Windows) and Firefox on the Mac and Windows, along with IE 7+ on Windows. (I can’t remember if Linux Firefox is supported or not; I think so but I might be wrong). Safari and Firefox get the full premium OWA experience, with drag-and-drop, spell checking, notifications, and the rest.

Second: check out the presence jellybean in the upper-right corner. OWA is now integrated with OCS. In this case, the screenshot shows my mailbox hosted on Exchange Labs, which features Windows Live Messenger integration. Notice that my Messenger contact list appears in the lower-left side of the navigation bar, and that next to Arlene’s name in the message pane, you can see her presence jellybean. (Take a good look at the context menu on the jellybean, too– looks a lot like the one in Outlook, doesn’t it?)

Microsoft’s video showed conversation view very briefly, but this is one of my all-time favorite Exchange features. Here’s what it looks like in OWA 2010:

Exchange2010-OWA-2.png

So, for the conversation titled “Introduction”, I can see all the messages in the thread, with the first non-deleted message automatically highlighted. The conversation view automatically includes deleted messages, sent items, and messages that I’ve filed in other folders, so I can get a sense of the conversation’s length and spread. The view in the message list (on the left) shows how the thread branches (not much, in this case) and the location of each message; the conversation view itself on the right shows the active message, along with controls to expand other messages. Of course, I can select, move, and delete messages either individually or as an entire conversation.

Now, some of you may be scoffing right now, saying “wait a minute– gmail has had conversation views for a long time.” That’s true. OWA’s view is richer; it displays more visual information and is easier to navigate than gmail’s current implementation. Take a look at these two screenshots to see what I’m talking about. The first shows a conversation originally imported from gmail as it appears in OWA 2010; the second shows it in gmail.

Exchange2010-OWA-5.png Exchange2010-OWA-4.png

Speaking of gmail, OWA 2010 can aggregate and display in your inbox mail from multiple services, too. Check out what one of the Exchange Labs options pages looks like:

Exchange2010-OWA-3.png

There are quite a few things to look at here. First, notice the account information pane, which allows users to set their own address, phone numbers, and so on. As an Exchange admin, I can control whether users may do so or not, but letting them do so has some obvious cost and time savings benefits for the IT staff. Second, apropos of self-service, check out the “Shortcuts” area on the right side of the screen: users can quickly get access to do a number of things directly from within OWA, like setting up Direct Push or creating server-side rules. Finally, notice the “Other Accounts” section; I’ve set up a link with my gmail account so that mail sent to my gmail address shows up in my Exchange Labs inbox. (OWA 2010 also lets you select the address from which mail is sent, much as Entourage does on the Mac, so I can send messages that appear to be from my domain or from gmail).

I could go on with features. For example, the message list isn’t paged any longer– it scrolls from beginning to end, just like Entourage or Outlook, seamlessly loading messages when necessary. There are tons of other little grace notes like this, but you’ll have to wait for RTM to see some of them!

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Exchange 2010: OWA

  1. Shailesh

    Awesome stuff from Microsoft. Is there a better email server than Microsoft Exchange at the moment? I don’t think so. Exchange & OWA 2007 are excellent but Exchange & OWA 2010 will provide more features and simplicity in a robust email server. I am just about to deploy Exchange 2007 for our new office but i am already pining for Exchange 2010. Check out the beta version which is now available for download via Technet.

  2. Brian

    I’ve been looking around and can’t find the download for mac. Do I install it myself and then it will work in my browser? or does my company have to install it?
    Help! I can’t stand regular OWA on mac

  3. Brian, this is something you install on the e-mail server, not something that you have to download and install yourself. When Villanova upgrades, you’ll automatically be able to use the new version. Hopefully that will be soon!

  4. Ivan

    What about programming OWA 2010, any improvements?

  5. Jeff

    Is it possible for users to be designated as admins to manage domain email accounts through OWA 2010 like in SmarterMail?

  6. Absolutely. If you delegate account management (I don’t remember the RBAC role name offhand), the user to whom you’ve delegated access can create and manage user accounts. This is, as you might expect, an extremely useful feature. Elan Shudnow has a good introductory writeup at

  7. Mike

    Hi Paul…
    Do you know where the email search function is noted in OWA. I use Safari.
    Thanks for your help.
    Mike

  8. James Williamson

    Hi Paul,
    One of the biggest headaches for our organization with OWA 2007 and previous has been the inability to import contacts into OWA directly. Do you know if this feature has been added in OWA 2010?
    We deploy a lot of people who only want email accounts from us but nothing else and me having to log into their account on a PC, setup their email in Outlook and then upload the requested contacts for 300-500 people is VERY time consuming and don’t get me started if they want updates!
    I wish I could make these people self sufficient. Most other webmail apps like gmail, yahoo etc allow you to import a CSV. PLEASE tell me OWA 2010 will do the same and let my nightmare end!!!
    Thanks in advance
    James

  9. Unfortunately, OWA 2010 doesn’t include this either. Users have a greater degree of ability to manage some properties of their mailbox, but there’s no “import my contacts” button. That’s too bad, as it would be a useful feature.
    What you could do (and it wouldn’t even be hard!) is to provide a means for users to import their contacts: they send you a CSV file, you push them into the user’s contacts folder using EMS, and then they take care of their own updates. That might help ease the burden for you somewhat.

  10. Steven

    The exchange alternative is Hyperoffice. Get away from from the proprietary microsoft design with exchange, Outlook and .ost files. Release the IT overhead to manage and maintain a redundant exchange server in a business.