Outlook 2010: The client features you'll want to use

Exchange 2010 is rolling out -- but will you need Outlook 2010 to enjoy its new features?

Exchange 2010 is filled with exciting new features, but to take advantage of some of them, you will need to work with the new Outlook 2010 (supposedly due out by June). Keep in mind that Exchange 2010 does not support versions of Outlook prior to 2003, which means that you'll be using Outlook 2003, 2007, or 2010 beta to access your mailboxes.

Because you need the latest Outlook features to access some of these new Exchange features, you might find yourself frustrated if you've already rolled out Exchange 2010. However, the most recent version of Outlook Web Access (now called Outlook Web App, with the same OWA acronym) does provide these Exchange 2010-exclusive features as long as you don't mind your users going through the browser. Once they go OWA, they may not go back.

[ Read the InfoWorld Test Center's first look at Exchange 2010. | Learn more about Exchange 2010 in J. Peter Bruzzese's "Now's the time to get serious about Exchange 2010." ]

Here are some of the cool Outlook client features you get when you combine Outlook/OWA 2010 with Exchange 2010:

  • MailTips: MailTips give a warning about something that doesn't look right about your e-mail or to provide information about the recipient of your message before you click Send. Let's face it: We all make mistakes. This is where MailTips can help. It looks at the e-mail and gives you a virtual tap on the shoulder when you are getting ready to send a message to a distribution list or to all the users in your contacts before you click the Send button.

    Imagine another example: You get an e-mail and start to reply. You are all fired up -- writing and writing and writing -- and go to click Send. But by this point several other e-mails have come through, and perhaps the person has already apologized or corrected the previous e-mail, or more information comes in. Still, it is too late because you've clicked Send. In Exchange 2010, MailTips would tell you that you aren't replying to the most recent version of the conversation. It can even tell you if the attachment size is beyond the allowable limits. When I first heard of MailTips, all I could think about was how many times I'm asked if I want to send an e-mail with no subject. But this is definitely a bit more AI-oriented and helpful.
  • Conversation View: Depending on how you sort messages, the conversation view can really be helpful in keeping conversations together rather than having to track back through e-mails to see all the many forks a message has taken.
  • Exchange Control Panel: Although more of a feature that only an admin will come to love and appreciate, this control panel gives Exchange administrators the ability to perform tasks on the server without physically being at the server or using a Remote Desktop Connection or another Terminal Service-like connection. But even end-users will find that they have a great deal more control when it comes to configuring automatic replies, as well as managing their account settings, voice mail, mobile phones, and text messaging.
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