With the release of Exchange 2010, we shall soon start to see a lot more changes to the way we been used to with Emails. This post will be among a few that I intend on doing about Exchange 2010 and what it brings on for us. I would like to start the series with Outlook Web APP. As you all might be aware there is no more Outlook Web Access or OWA as we all fondly call it. Why Web App? Well my first impression on it would be the way Microsoft is pushing for Office Online and hosted services from its Office Arsenal.

Am Planning on doing another post about setting up Exchange 2010, but to bring you up to speed, my current environment that I run at home is a Windows 2008 R2(RTM) member of a domain also running of a Windows 2008 R2 server. So let us jump straight in and take a deeper look at Outlook Web APP (OWAPP)

Login Page

Outlook Web App Login Page

Outlook Web App Login Page

The first and foremost thing that I had noticed was the colour scheme which is predominantly yellow. I believe this is to bring it into line with Office 2010 which too follows a similar colour scheme. The login properties haven’t changed from OWA. The only setting that I had changed from my default setup was changing the username properties from domain/username to username so that I don’t have to prefix my username with my domain name.

OWApp Playground

owappplayground

The very first time that I had logged in I was like Wow, as it is quite common when I get a new tool to play with. Some of the things that caught my eye straight off were the Favourites(spelled Favorites), all the icons that represent various mail actions have been rearranged and a general feeling that everything is well spaced and placed. At work we use Exchange 2007 and I have opened both the OWA and OWAPP side by side. OWA tried to place a lot of mail actions together and at one spot, whereas on OWAPP they have been organized and placed with ease of use in mind.

Left Pane

Outlook Web App Left Pane

Outlook Web App Left Pane

Part 1: I am in love with Favorites. How is this going to benefit you while using OWAPP? This tab would enable you to quickly check on those unread emails without having to browse through a million folders and curse yourself for putting so many mail rules.(If you don’t, you are a really smart person unlike me  ). One stop shop for all your mails, and have a quick read of your mails.

Part 2: As you can see, a lot of the folders that we could see on OWA such as Calendars, contacts, suggested contacts etc , have been taken off from the selection. Though they are present as a function, they are not visible here. Instead you find a smaller selection of folders from your mailbox.

Part 3: I haven’t finished setting up my public folders yet, so this is missing from the selection. Also missing is the documents TAB that let you connect to an Internal Fileserver or SharePoint site.

Center Pane

Outlook Web App Center Pane

Outlook Web App Center Pane

Most of the functionalities are the same, but as I said earlier they have been placed or shifted around a bit. Fig: 1 shows the Refresh Button to check for new messages. Fig 2 shows my different folders that I have under the Inbox. I think they would keep changing depending on which folders are used more often from the OWAPP. Fig 3 shows the new message or new calendar item such as a meeting request. Something missing from here is the option to create a new contact or new public folder post. Opening up the OWA from work shows that I had a lot more options under the new tab such as appointment, distribution lists etc. One would say that the need for OWA or OWAPP would be to have a quick check on your emails and that on the road you probably wouldn’t find the need to create a distribution list on the fly.

Fig 4 shows the delete option and here comes the Conversation Feature.

As you can see from the shots above, the topmost email has gone through the process of receiving, replying and then receiving again. Previously this would have been quite difficult to keep track off, but now with Conversation feature, this wouldn’t be a problem at all. Conversation is going to group your emails based on the subject line which never changes when you reply to an email that you received. This may be received from one recipient or many others, but wouldn’t matter as long as the subject remains the same. As you can see from Fig 2 to 4 the conversation shows the mail that I received first, the one that I replied and also the one that I got a reply back again.

But there might be a point in the conversation (of emails), that it might be quite safe to start IGNORING other conversation that may be continuing between other members of that same email. This is when you can make use of Ignore Conversation functionality under Outlook Web APP and also Outlook 2010.

This is demonstrated below

Outlook Web APP Ignore Conversation Option

Outlook Web APP Ignore Conversation Option

You can cancel your ignore conversations as well.

Outlook Web App Cancel and Ignored Conversation

Outlook Web App Cancel and Ignored Conversation

Filters:

Another feature that is going to be quite useful through OWAPP would be the filter option available as shown

Outlook Web App Filter Options

Outlook Web App Filter Options

Filters bring in a whole heap of functionality to OWAPP. For example when checking your email after a long flight and you just want to get your hands on that one important email options 1 and 3 would enable you to pinpoint on that particular email. Option 2 shows the ability to Categorise your emails for later use.

Filters would be a feature that would help save a lot of time and provide for better efficient way of using OWAPP.

That is pretty much what I could gather from the Centre Pane and lets go over to the right pane.

Right Pane:-

Outlook Web APP Right Pane

Outlook Web APP Right Pane

OWAPP brings in a lot of functionality to the right hand pane. I am going to go from 1 to 8 in some kind of an order.

  1. Shows the name of the mailbox and also lets you open another mailbox that the current user has complete access. Quite well spaced compared to OWA.
  2. Expand All and Newest on Top Functionality is for any conversation emails that you might have in your current view. As it’s quite evident the format of showing the email has changed considerably and is very clear and pleasant to view. Expand all would expand each and every email contained in that conversation and you could also Collapse them after.
  3. Brings along reply, reply to all and forward functionality directly from the reading pane. I am not quite sure if any later versions would enable the reading pane to be placed below the centre pane. Also available here is the option to go with 7 where you can forward the whole conversation as an attachment. I am quite sure this feature wasn’t enabled on OWA as well.
  4. Shows the subject of the email conversation. The reading pane has gone through major “Plastic Surgery”. I am in love with it already.
  1. Going to combine 5 and 8 here. “Actions” is another new functionality to the reading pane. This is quite similar to right clicking an email. The “Actions” tab only comes into view on the email that is currently under view. The rest of the conversation doesn’t fall under the “Actions” scope of functions.
  1. Just to show that you can open a particular email under a conversation without having to expand all of them.

I don’t see why I would not mind spending more time on OWAPP than using Outlook even?

Options Available under OWAPP

Options TAB which is available on the top right hand corner has gone through major revamping. Unlike OWA options are much more easily accessible.

Most of the options are self-explanatory so I won’t go into much detail.

Outlook Web App Options Page

Outlook Web App Options Page

Most of the settings that need to be tweaked have been placed under the Settings Options with TABS available for all the options shows in the screenshot.

Outlook Web APP Options /Settings Page

Outlook Web APP Options /Settings Page

Phone Options:

Outlook Web APP Phone Options

Outlook Web APP Phone Options

Once you setup a phone to sync with your Exchange 2010 Mailbox, the details of the same would show up here. Like OWA you should be able to push a wipe of the phone in case it gets lost. But what I would like to show is also another feature called text messaging.

Though I cannot seem to make it function as New Zealand is not available as an option I shall keep an eye out for any posts that would talk in more detail about this. From the looks of it you can setup your calendar and email notifications to be sent to your Mobile device as a text message.

Outlook Web APP Phone Notifications Page

Outlook Web APP Phone Notifications Page

To go back to your Mailbox view click on My Mail found on the top right hand corner.

Outlook Web APP My Mail Option

Outlook Web APP My Mail Option

Calendar

The calendar on OWAPP hasn’t gone through much of a revamp other than the option to Reply, Reply to all or Forward the Calendar appointment straight from the reading pane as shown below

Outlook Web APP Calendar Page

Outlook Web APP Calendar Page

Contacts

Outlook Web APP Contacts Page

Outlook Web APP Contacts Page

Tasks

The only difference I could find between tasks on OWA and OWAPP was the ability to Colour categorise them as shown below

Outlook Web APP Tasks Page

Outlook Web APP Tasks Page

Well that pretty much summarizes my first blog post ever. I feel OWAPP has changed heaps, a lot more comfort features have been thought about and built into with normal users in mind.

Post in Doc Format for download

Cheers