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Outlook with Exchange Server

This Blog assumes you are using Exchange Server.

Although Outlook can be used as a stand-alone email client, it really shines when used in conjunction with Exchange Server. With Exchange server, you can perform a lot of tasks that are not available with web-mail based services such as Hotmail and Gmail. Although these services may have similar features, often the features do not work properly. For example, you cannot request a delivery receipt from a Gmail user, as Gmail will not return such a request.

Exchange Server is managed by the IT department, who define disk quotas, manage archiving, and keep track of threats.

If you are using Exchange Server, you will be able to do the following reliably:

  • Send Out of Office auto replies
    • If you do not want to be available, auto-replies are a great way to tell people you will not be able to respond
  • Request Read and Delivery receipts.
    • Although this feature may be available if you are using POP3 or IMAP, these web-based services may not support the feature, or may, without warning, stop supporting the feature.
  • Set up a survey using Voting Buttons
    • Voting buttons let you ask others questions and receive responses. Some webmail services offer support for this, but not others.
  • View calendars of others with ease
    • Although you can view shared calendars on the internet through such tools as Google calendars, Exchange makes this process a lot easier. You can see details, decide who sees what you are doing and who does not, and schedule meetings.
    • You can schedule resources and locations
    • Group calendars together to see the schedule of an entire group in one place and with only a couple of clicks.
  • Assign tasks and keep task status up-to-date
    • This is a tool that, once you start using it, you will not be able to stop. I have yet to see any webmail system support this.
  • View and work with Contacts for the organization
    • With Outlook 2010, all of your contact’s recent emails, meetings, and attachments are just one click away.
  • Retrieve email in in the Cloud
    • Exchange allows you to receive email anywhere.
  • Retrieve unread mail.
    • A feature that comes in handy every once in a while is the ability to retrieve mail that you realize you should not have sent. Usually you realize this less than a second after it leaves your Outbox.
  • Public Folder Access
    • You can collect, organize, and share files and Outlook items with others in your organization. You can, for example, share a contact or a task list with a person or group.
  • Delegate Access to your Email
    • This is great if you are out of the office, or if you need someone to manage your email.

As you can see, Exchange Server puts Outlook on steroids. There are a couple of different versions of Exchange Server, and some of the features may vary slightly with each version. For example, you may be allowed to create more rules with the latest version. On the whole, however, the list above describes Outlook on any version of Exchange Server.

If your organization does not have the funds to purchase Exchange Server, you can purchase instead a service from Microsoft, Hostway, Rackspace, or any number of online hosting companies that give you an Exchange Account, the ability to manage that account, and may offer other complimentary services such as SharePoint.

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