By Diane Poremsky
Last week's column covered some of the features of the upcoming Outlook that will benefit most users, including both standalone and Exchange server users. This week's column covers some of the new features you'll find in Exchange Titanium, which should be released next spring, at about the same time as Office 11.
One of the most noticeable changes is with Outlook Web Access, or OWA. The new OWA interface looks very much like the new Outlook interface and it has many of the same features, including the new reading pane, which allows you to see more of the message and more message headers. OWA also includes a spell checker, although you have to press F7 to check your spelling; it doesn't automatically initiate a spell check when you send a message.
Other changes to OWA include the ability to create rules when using OWA. You'll be limited to creating rules based on the To, From, Subject and Importance fields but will be able to move, copy, delete or forward the messages meeting the conditions. While not as good as the complex rules available from within Outlook's Rules Wizard, it's a welcome addition to anyone who uses OWA.
You'll also be able to set up a signature to use on messages sent from OWA. The signature you create in OWA will only be added to mail you send from OWA and you'll be limited to just one signature for use with OWA. But again, it's a welcome and needed improvement.
Titanium (the new Exchange update) has more than just improvements to the OWA interface, although that's the first thing many users will notice. Currently, organizations who want to provide mobile access to their Exchange server need a second server with the MIS (Mobile Information Server) installed. The features of MIS, including remote synchronizing of PDAs and access to your Exchange mailbox using Smart Phones or WAP-enabled cellular phones, will be built into Titanium and MIS will be retired after Titanium is released.
Titanium will give administrators more tools to use against spam and viruses, including built-in RBL (Realtime Blackhole List) support. The VS (virus-scanning) API, first introduced with Exchange 2000 SP1, is being enhanced and improved.
Most administrators will be excited to know that Outlook 11 will reduce the bandwidth it needs. Exchange Titanium is expected to continue the movement towards server consolidation, but with more efficiently handling resources and permitting more mailboxes per server. When used on the .NET server, administrators will be able to take advantage of the shadow copy feature and more easily back up stores.
Titanium will support Outlook 11's feature of "RPC over HTTP", reducing the need to use VPN (Virtual Private Network) to access mailboxes securely. We don't know yet if this will work with a front-end Titanium server and backend Exchange 2000 servers, but if it does, I expect to see a lot of upgrades to Titanium on front-end servers.