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Exchange Online For Microsoft Office 365 - Part I

In this two part series, we shall be looking at the different features of Exchange Online, access capabilities, Email & Calender Capabilities, Contacts, etc.

Exchange Online for Office 365 is a cloud-based service from Microsoft which enables organisations to have a hosted messaging solution with the capabilities no less than the on-premises Exchange Server. With Exchange Online, users have access to a feature rich and familiar email interface, contacts, calendar, tasks – all from multiple devices like PCs, Smartphone and the Web. Microsoft has done a great job in providing the sophisticated messaging capabilities to SMB, enterprises through Exchange Online without the burden of on-premises installation, operational and maintenance of the server software.

With Exchange online, Microsoft boasts of a variety of features that meets the need for robust security, 24x7 reliability and availability along with enhanced user productivity. Microsoft backs its 99.9% uptime by a financial reimbursement SLA; through which organisations would be provided refund for any downtime suffered (the SLA is not available to users of the Beta version of Office 365).

Details of Exchange Online Services

Language Support: Exchange Online for Microsoft Office 365 supports quite a few languages both in case of Client languages as well as the Administration languages. As per the information available through Microsoft, all the languages supported in Exchange 2010 Service Pack 1 are supported in Exchange Online.

User Subscriptions: With Exchange Online, Microsoft supports three kinds of user licenses – Exchange Online Kiosk with 500 MB of mailbox storage, Exchange Online (Plan 1) with a maximum of 25 GB of mailbox storage and Exchange Online (Plan 2) with 25 GB of dedicated mailbox storage with unlimited storage as users’ personal archive.

Mailbox Capacity Alters: Exchange Online provides three types of notifications to users as and when the size of the primary mailbox approaches maximum size limits. These notifications are Warning, Prohibit Send, and Prohibit Send/Receive.

Access to Exchange Online

Users have the capability of connecting to their Exchange Online mailboxes from a variety of devices and platform for which no VPN is required, just an internet connectivity would suffice.

Microsoft Outlook: Users can access their mailboxes from the feature rich Outlook desktop clients. Exchange Online supports Outlook 2010, Outlook 2007 with features such as Outlook Anywhere, Autodiscover service for Exchange, Cached Exchange Mode and offline Address book.

Outlook Web App: In case users do not have access to their desktop based Outlook clients while on the go, they can still have access to their mailboxes through the Outlook Web App. Different types of browsers (even old ones) are supported and this enables users from virtually any device access their emails, contacts, etc.

Administrators have the capability of configuring quite a few options based on company policies which would enhance the user experience. The customization options available are configuration of the landing page, session time-out configuration, attachment options, IM and Presence options, etc.

Microsoft Outlook for MAC 2011: MAC Users haven’t been left out and they too can access the Exchange Online services through their outlook 2011 client like any other windows based user.

Mail Protocols: All the three mail protocols are supported viz. SMTP, POP and IMAP.

ActiveSync For Mobile Devices: Exchange Online also supports the ActiveSync Protocol through which users will be able to synchronize their mailboxes between Exchange Online and mobile devices enabling them to access emails, calendar data, contacts while on the go.

This marks the end of part 1. In the next part we shall be looking at more information on Emails, Calendar, Contacts & Directory, Voicemail & Fax, Security and Compliance and few other topics.