Microsoft Outlook Web Access 2007 – new features in Beta 1

Hi. I'm DJ Schwend, a product designer working on the OWA team here in Exchange. I've put together this overview of the best new features in our Beta 1 release. We've made huge strides to improve the online experience and our goal is to keep being the best web mail client in the world.

The user interface has been redesigned with a focus on productivity. We've reduced the number of clicks required to get tasks done. When possible, we've incorporated actions and responses in place; we call this "inline task completion" instead of opening multiple dialogs or property sheets. We've removed pop-up notifications to avoid those irritating pop-up blockers. We've enhanced drag and drop functionality, improved and expanded the right-click context menus, and integrated better error strings contextually so they don't get in your way.

Logon screen

If you're an OWA user today, you know how annoying it is that you sometimes (always?) forget to select 'private' logon which will give you a timeout of several hours instead of the few minutes you get with 'public' logon when accessing OWA from home. To fix this, the OWA 2007 logon page will remember your 'private' selection and the username you entered on those trusted machines between OWA sessions so you only have to enter your password the next time you log on. There is also a checkbox here for the 'Light' version of OWA here too, for the Mac and browsers other than IE6 and 7. It's also optimized for Accessibility, making it easier on users with low vision and screen readers. Look for a post on that version of OWA here soon. We've also updated the look and feel of the screen, along with the rest of the product. Check it out:


E-mail appears automatically as it arrives in your Inbox and the unread counts in the folder tree stay up-to-date so you no longer have to press the "Check Message" button over and over again to see if you have received that important email you've been expecting.

Also in the folder tree, we've enhanced drag and drop functionality from the mail list. You can drag and drop single or multiple items from the mail list into folders and interact with those items by right clicking and choosing actions within the menus. The right-click folder tree context menu now includes:

- New folder creation and in-place folder renaming (no more dialogs). Just choose the type of folder you want (Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks) and right-click to choose "Create New Folder" from the menu.
- "Mark All as Read" action for folders
- "Empty Folder" to delete all items in one click - a new Option to empty the Deleted Items folder on log off is also provided in the new Options pages.
- New integrated Reminders drop down from the folder title area. You can choose to hide these temporarily by one click outside the menu, or dismiss individual or multiple appointments by clicking the Snooze or Dismiss buttons. This isn't a pop-up so it won't be blocked, and you won't miss an appointment.

- Since the browser won't let us render things outside the browser window anymore due to WinXP SP2 security enhancements, the New Item Notifications are also presented integrated into the OWA folder title area (not a pop-up from the Windows taskbar). This appears in a small menu with the subject and sender name shown for 5 seconds before fading out from the main window while you're working in any module (including Mail, Calendar, Contacts, and Tasks). Clicking on the notification will select the newest item in the Mail list, even if you're in another area like Calendar or Contacts. Different notifications exist for each type of item: mail, voice mail and fax. So if you're expecting a fax or a phone call you'll be sure not to miss it. You may turn Notifications and Reminders off completely in the Options pages.

Mail Toolbar

Click New to open and compose a new e-mail. Here, you can add names and addresses easily with the new auto-complete menu that remembers recently-used items so you don't have to:

Right-click on resolved names to view Properties such as: office, phone, e-mail, availability and their position in the organizational structure within the company:

- Access messaging options to set importance, priority, and request read receipts
- Use the HTML editor to change fonts, add color or add a hyperlink to a document
- View message headers for e-mail
- Adjust the Reading Pane that's shown on the right by default. Options include Off, Right and Bottom. Some new Reading Pane Preview features for meeting requests include integrated meeting conflict information and response buttons:

- Change the mail list to single-line view instead of the default double-line view
- Delete items
- Check for new messages
- "Arranged by" control incorporated into the mail list allows for custom sorting. Depending on the sort selected (Date, Conversation, From, To, Size, Subject, Type, Attachments or Importance), the list supports "typedown search" meaning that you can type the first few letters of the "From" name or "Subject" and the list will scroll to that entry.

- Oh, and let's hear it for our new Conversation View: hooray! Almost as good as a thread compressor (almost):


In the Mail module, Search is shown as one field above the mail list that will search across the currently selected folder or user-selected location provided by a drop-down menu. Search scoping choices include: selected folder, selected and subfolders, or all folders and items:

To initiate a search, simply type in the Search field and either press enter or click the Search icon. Hmmm, just like Google. To Clear the Search, press the Clear icon that appears in place of the Search icon after searching or click away to a different folder or module. Search is also included for Contacts, Tasks and the Address Book.


The Calendar has been completely redesigned with tons of added functionality and visuals:

- New calendar views for daily, weekly, and work week including a new Reading Pane preview available for all views so you don't have to double click to open an appointment to see the full details

- New visuals with transparency during drag and drop actions and colored free/busy status indicators
- Enhanced Date Picker with current date selection and view settings reflected for daily, weekly, work week
- Improved, integrated date-based navigation including next and previous buttons and hourly timestrip with "now" indicator:

- In-place "Create New Calendar" function for multiple calendar management
- Double-click to create a new appointment at the desired time on the calendar surface
- "Smart" scheduling with integrated free/busy status indicators for each meeting invitee, meeting time and room suggestions, and a room picker with most recently used menu for frequently used meeting locations. No more convoluted searching for rooms!


New Options page format, separated into sections for each feature area. Some new features here include:

- An enhanced Out of Office Assistant that allows you to create messages, set your Out of Office for a specific period of time in the future (this is great, because you can set it up in advance and you don't have to remember to turn it off):

- You also get to choose if you want to send a different message to external recipients. We also have new Out of Office notifications to remind you that you have this feature turned on, or turned on for a specific timeframe:

- Change Password
- Mobile Device Options provide access to active devices through Exchange. You can view your last sync time, access your password or initiate a remote data wipe to protect your information if you leave your phone in a taxi (oops!)
- Voice Mail and telephone access settings:

- About Outlook Web Access: Troubleshooting and product support information helps pinpoint potential problems

These are only some of the best Beta 1 features. Wondering about colors and flags? Junk e-mail management? Document access? Stay tuned for more new OWA features coming this summer, in Beta 2.

From all of us on the OWA team:

We hope you enjoy Exchange 12!

- DJ Schwend

Comments (73)
  1. jesse says:

    The #1 thing I believe would enhance OWA:  Browseable GAL

    Anything like that on its way?

  2. Matt says:

    What happened to Month view in the calendar?  Bring it back! Please.

  3. Joseph Scott says:

    Looks like lots of needed improvements, how well does OWA work in browsers besides IE?  Specifically Firefox.

  4. Mike1816 says:

    It is good to hear we will see message headers.   I assume this means the entire SMTP email headers.  Thanks.

  5. Mike1816 says:

    Would like OWA to display the  -Notes- attribute  for Distribution Lists.  In Outlook this is displayed from the GAL  >  Distribution List   >  Properties   >  General tab    >    Notes.  


  6. Aaron M. Hall says:

    I would like to formally request that you guys work on the Basic/Limited UI for OWA as well, so that non-IE browser users can have an attractive, reasonable experience as well as IE users. There are many organizations– Academic institutions, for example where I work– that do not have the luxury of requiring an IE-only environment, but we’d feel equally bad about saying, "Well, use IE or else you get a limited, (and kinda ugly) UI."

  7. Brian.Kronberg says:

    Question 1:

    If I upgrade the front end servers to Exchange 2007 and do not upgrade the backend (cluster), what features of the new OWA are not available.

    Question 2:

    Is the address book still an LDAP search against AD versus the GAL/AL/OAL limited only by the msExchQueryBaseDN attribute?

  8. henrique cano says:

    One thing My users Really miss is the ability to READ encrypted and signed e-mails from the OWA.

    Will It be Possible?

  9. Kristian Andaker says:


    It’s exciting to see some feedback on OWA Beta1! Here are some answers.

    Jesse: Yes, a Browsable Address Book is available in OWA2007. I think you’ll be quite pleased when you see it. Come by the Exchange booth at TechEd in Boston in June and we’ll give a demo, or wait for our Beta2 release to become available this summer.

    Matt: The monthly calendar view is unfortunately covered by the "you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs" policy of our OWA rewrite. That is: we didn’t have time to rewrite all the OWA features, so we had to plan on removing a few to start with an then add them back again later. We know the monthly calendar view is a feature loved by many users and it will come back at some point (but it is not in Beta1).

    Joseph: Firefox users will get the "OWA2007 Light" experience, which is a much improved rewrite of "OWA2003 Basic". Listen in on the posts to the Exchange blog and you should see a post on "OWA Light" before long.

    Mike1816: Yes, when you look at message headers through the OWA UI you’ll be able to see all the messages headers expressed in the MIME of the message.

    Aaron: See the answer for Joseph above. We will still have the best OWA experience only for IE6+ users in OWA 2007, but the non-IE experience has been dramatically improved. Which browsers we support with the best experience and the "Light" experience is mostly a matter of development and test costs. The support lists may change in future releases.

    Brian: Q1: If you keep Ex2003 mailboxes you don’t get the new OWA. The only OWA2007 feature your users get to enjoy are the updates for OWA Forms Based Authentication. Other than the authentication, users with Ex2003 mailboxes will continue getting Ex2003 OWA even with an Ex2007 Client-Access-Services server.

    Brian: Q2: OWA2007 will be showing the GAL and let users navigate other Address Lists. msExchQueryBaseDN will still (as in Ex2003) be the mechanism available to show only subsets of the GAL to certain users.


  10. I really like the new OWA experience. At the moment I have only one wish/complaint: The new self-provisioning of mobile devices is great. But PLEASE let the admin decide if users get this option or not(Maybe a new option on OWAADMIN…?). I see a lot of support calls coming in like "…I wiped my device accidentially, could you please bring back my data…".

  11. Oh, there’s another one: Public Folder access. PLS!

  12. kandaker says:

    Henrique: I’ve got good news and bad news.
    The good news is that if your users are using IE on Windows and Ex2003, they can go to the OWA options page and download + install the S/MIME ActiveX control and they’ll be able to sign/verify and encrypt/decrypt S/MIME messages.
    The bad news is that in OWA2007 we haven’t gotten to adding S/MIME support yet, so you won’t see this same capability in OWA2007 for a while.
    Christian: I’ve got all good news for you. The administrator can turn on/off the ability for end users to manage their Exchange ActiveSync mobile devices through OWA using OWA “segmentation”. You can do this “per OWA virtual directory” or “per user”. To turn off the OWA mobile device configuration for the whole vdir, you can use the Exchange management Console, or execute this Powershell command:

    set-OwaVirtualDirectory -identity “owa (default web site)” -MobileSyncIntegrationEnabled $false

  13. Exchange Dude says:

    Overall, the look is great! But how easy will it be to customize it? 2003 takes a bit of knowledge of ASP and overall web dev to put our own company logos in it or change to login FBA page, much like has. I hope you guys took into account how many of us customize the banners and intitial login screen to make the management happy without having our own web dev team.

  14. Larry Heier says:


    I wanted to add onto what the Exchange Dude said.  A customizable wizard such as what’s available from Citrix with their Web Interface 4.x configuration product (for Citrix Presentation Server) would be great so anyone could update logos, default views, template themes, etc.

    thank you,


  15. Jalrok says:

    Looks like another great upgrade, OWA2003 was great and this looks like a good evolution. One thing I see is that the banner at the top of the page takes up a lot of real estate. I think a banner 1/2 that size or even smaller would serve the functionality of the page better. Thanks for the team blog as well, it’s great to see the development process and have some effect (hopefully) on the final product.

  16. james says:

    Since many people in my organisation use Firefox it would certainly be interesting to see what features the "light" UI includes (and more importantly, what it leaves out). I would hope that where possible the UI would be the same so that it’s easy for people who sometimes use IE and sometimes Firefox.

  17. This looks really exciting!

    One of the problems with OWA/Exchange 2003 is that you cannot "invite" a resource – the meeting request goes to the Inbox rather than directly booking it. I know that things are changing in Exchange 2007 anyway in this area by providing a different mechanism but can resources now be booked directly or is that mechanism deprecated?

  18. henrique cano says:

    And what about the ability to READ encrypted and signed emails on the owa? Will have a solution for this?

  19. TC says:

    Has anything been done to fix the problem with OWA and the URLScan tool? The issue being the inability to read messages with certain characters in the subject such as "./", "", "..", ":", "%" and "&" as noted in KB325965.

  20. PatRick says:

    Is there going to be a way to open/authenticate to multiple mailboxes in OWA in the near future? That is one lacking feature that would be killer.

  21. John says:

    Will Public Folder and/or Sharepoint contacts be accessable when composing messages?

  22. Rolf Szimnau says:

    Looks really great, but why are you calling it "Select Rooms" on the scheduling tab for a new appointment.

    why not call it "select resource" or something simalar?

  23. Joel says:

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to our questions.

    OWA2000 and OWA2003 show up as "Suspicous" websites in IE7 if the site uses an IP address instead of a hostname. Does OWA2007 do anything to remedy this?

  24. Andrew says:

    Anyone know if this will have native RSS functionality akin to the forthcoming Outlook client?

  25. Bernd says:

    It would great if the new OWA have the ability to use the "From-Field".

    Is this Feature in scope?

  26. Aaron M. Hall says:

    Thanks for your response, it is most helpful! You guys ROCK! :D

  27. kandaker says:

    Thanks for all the feedback and comments! The OWA team is listening and out future plans are influenced by every request and question. I wish we could say ‘YES!’ to everything :).

    A few more answers to above:

    Christian: For Public Folder UI in OWA2007 I’ll have to go with a ‘no comment’ at the moment. We are still planning for releases after RTM and we don’t want to promise anything we don’t know we can deliver.

    Exchange Dude and Larry: As with previous OWA versions is it unsupported (but possible) to modify the OWA client side script files or images/icons. Customization like that can get overwritten by Exchange Service Packs and QFEs. We are planning to make OWA customization a little easier in the future, but you’ll have to wait till after E12 RTM for most of those improvements.

    Jalrok: The height of that banner is a touchy subject. Many tears have been shed and angry words spoken over the issue of vertical real estate in the OWA client :). It comes down to a balance between 1) optimizing the use of the vertical real estate for computer savvy users and 2) make it very clear to novice users where the browser menus/buttons end and the OWA client UI starts.

    Many novice users confuse the IE "new – mail" command with the OWA "new – mail" command. To combat those misunderstandings we need a clear separator between the two pieces of UI. The height and ’empty’ feel of the logo pane is intended to mitigate those issues.

    James: I hope you saw the video Nathan put on the blog about OWA Light accessibility. He’ll be following up with some OWA Light eye candy showing off the Safari and Firefox experience before long.

    Philip: Exchange 2007 has a whole set of improvements for resource and room booking. One of them is the ability to configure rooms to auto-accept meeting invites (if they are free at that time) through the OWA UI for the room mailbox.

    Henrique: Same good and bad news for that question. With the Ex2003 S/MIME control  you can read encrypted and signed S/MIME mail. That control won’t be supported in E2007 RTM though.

    TC: OWA2007 will play very much nicer with URLScan than previous OWA versions since OWA2007 no longer puts email subjects and other user generated data in URLs. That said, I’m sure some little URLScan tweak will be necessary for OWA2007 interop even if most of the tweaks you needed for OWA2003 won’t be necessary.

    Patrick: Stay tuned for Beta2 and the “open other mailboxes” feature (this is possible with OWA2003 using specific URLs, but we added end user UI for it in OWA2007). You won’t be able to open multiple mailboxes in the same OWA window, but it’ll be simple for a user to keep one OWA window open per mailbox they want to look at.

    John: Sorry to disappoint, but OWA2007 won’t have the ability to do name resolution from the email compose form against contact folders outside the mailbox. This is something we are considering for future versions.

    Rolf: We did usability testing on whether we should be talking about “rooms” (very specific, but a little limiting) or “resources” (very generic, but encompasses all kinds of things customers book for meetings). It turns out many users get confused when talking about “resources”. They don’t know what it’s referring to, and so they don’t even think of using the UI to try to book rooms. Since rooms is the (by far) most important/common resource people book, we decided to go with the specific term.

    Joel: I’m not sure on the details about when IE shows sites as ‘suspicious’. But I would guess they show any site referred to as an IP (not a hostname) as suspicious. SPAM and Phishing filters in general also treat email with IP links as more suspicious.

    Andrew: I know! I know! OWA2007 will show RSS feeds set up through Outlook12. But you won’t be able to subscribe to new RSS feeds using the OWA UI. It’s an interesting long-term question whether the browser, your messaging client or some web site if the best way to aggregate and read RSS feeds… Perhaps all of them should allow this? This is something for us to figure out in future releases.

    Bernd: I’m sorry to say you won’t be able to specify the ‘from’ field in OWA2007.

    Aaron: We aim to please. Please let us know what you like and dislike about OWA2007 and we’ll be keeping it in mind as we plan and build future versions. Thanks for the questions and comments!

  28. Emil says:

    The dealbreaker:

    How does OWA2007 work in non-IE browsers (Firefox, Opera, Safari)?

  29. Boris says:

    OWA sucks, GMail rules

  30. Joe says:

    Given that Windows Live Mail now fully supports Firefox in it’s rich mode, how is it that OWA 2007 will not? There must be a huge amount of overlap in these two poducts. Please strongly consider the large Firefox user base out there which would love to avoid having an IE window open for the *sole* purpose of using OWA – I’m personally sick of it!

    As a side note – great work, looks great and beats other options by miles!

  31. People people people…  This team has developed the most advanced web client EVER for accessing Exchange.  Let’s let them keep developing, and quit asking them the same question over and over like "How’s it work in FireFox?"  (emil) Duhhh, of course that’s not their highest priority.  Read this screen before posting your questions, let’s let them program!  :)

    And Boris, I sure hope they don’t even respond to your comment about Gmail.

    GREAT work team, these improvements are unbelievable, I really respect what you’re doing!

  32. Stefan says:


    very cool thinks.

    What is with the calendar categories. Would this also be possible over OWA2007 (didn’t find it in OWA2003). And would it be shown with Colours like Outlook 2003.

  33. mf says:

    just to add to the noise: why is the client not AJAX-ified to provide a tier-one experience to browsers besides IE?  Was this a time-constraint issue?

    I’d like the OWA team to look over Zimbra ( to see what kind of possibilities are available using that tech, or even review the Yahoo beta web mail.

    A rich client experience CAN be provided using AJAX.  Love to see OWA be at par with the best, if not a leader!

  34. JS says:

    Will there be a "calendar overlay" option similar to what is planned for OL2007?  Or the ability to open other users calendars side-by-side?

  35. OWA user says:

    This has to be the weakest excuse ever for dogding the question when we all know the answer : OWA on non IE browser is crippled for 1 main reason: Microsoft doesn’t want you using non IE browsers.  Get with it guys and realize that no one company controls the web and forcing limitations on non IE browser is about as 1995 as  you can get.  The largest software company in the world can’t development, test and support the second most (and climbing) popular browser in the world?  Please.  I smell dirty politics and then some.  Dump the ‘Light’ experience and put those people on making it work THE SAME across ALL modern browsers.

    Joseph: Firefox users will get the "OWA2007 Light" experience, which is a much improved rewrite of "OWA2003 Basic". Listen in on the posts to the Exchange blog and you should see a post on "OWA Light" before long.

  36. Jeff Guillet says:

    I can’t believe that OWA still doesn’t support voting buttons for messages created from the Outlook client.  With all the magic that OWA2007 does now, has any effort been made to accomplish this?

  37. Bronco says:

    Address book like the Messageware Plus Pack is essential or we are staying with 2003!!

  38. sh00kie says:

    Great to hear that OWA users will be able to manage more mailboxes froma GUI. Will calendar viewing(of another user) require the complete seperate session as well as viewing the mailbox does.

    BTW – OWAuser – get a clue. Other browsers are just as often as not closed source – and often they do not support the same features (advanced DHTML, XML, etc.) that IE does. Just because you want to run a buggy and just as security-problem-prone (but no method of letting you know of updates) browser that provides you the illusion of security (or more likely the feeling of being the |33+  H@x0r that you are) does not mean that Microsoft has to support it.

  39. kandaker says:

    It’s interesting to see some viewpoints on the topic of OWA Firefox support. I realize I don’t have much of a chance to dispel all the conspiracy theories out there with anything less than actually adding Firefox support to OWA Premium :). But as I said above the browser support we have for OWA Premium and OWA Light is really all about the browser’s and version’s usage share among our customers and the development and test investment it takes to support additional browsers/versions. We have limited resources, limited time and a very large set of potential features. Firefox support for OWA Premium wasn’t high enough on the priority list to warrant the cost.

    It’s pretty cheap for us to add support for additional browsers to OWA Light, since we don’t have many advanced AJAX behaviors in that app. But OWA2007 Premium is among the most advanced AJAX applications on the planet and there are literally hundreds of small browser specific tweaks and modifications we would need to figure out to make it work flawlessly in Firefox.

    The cost of making OWA Premium work in Firefox is going down continuously because IE and Firefox  are getting more in sync. If the collective Exchange customer benefit, across all our customer categories, of OWA Premium Firefox support outweighs the development and testing investment it would take for us to add that support, we would add Firefox support for OWA Premium. That’s the same framework we use to evaluate other potential OWA features. Eg. We made the same tradeoff when we decided not to support OWA2007 Premium in IE5.5.

    For now, you should check up on the OWA Light blog post which we will be posting soon. I think you’ll find that Firefox, Safari, Opera, Netscape etc. users will have a pretty nice email and calendaring experience with OWA2007 despite OWA Premium being restricted to IE6+.

    To answer Joe’s comment about leveraging the Windows Live Firefox support in OWA, I can shock you with the news that Windows Live and OWA are completely separate applications and don’t share any code. The goals of a consumer email client are very different from what our corporate customers ask for. OWA is all about the corporate customers with Active Directory integration, Conversations views for users who receive 200-300 emails per day, advanced calendaring features, Voicemail integration, Exchange ActiveSync integration, Sharepoint integration etc. etc. Windows Live has a very different set of users with different feature requests. That makes it simpler to keep the teams separate since we would never be able to agree on prioritization and design of features if we were building one product together.

    On that note a comparison between Gmail and OWA is also interesting. I think Gmail is a pretty cool web mail client. I would have a hard time using Gmail as my corporate mail client since it lacks some of the features I’m addicted to from being an Outlook user for many years. But for consumer email it’s certainly in the game with Yahoo and Windows Live when it comes to ease of use and other features.

    I can’t help but mention my biggest pet peeve with Gmail though (yes, I know I’m throwing rocks in a glass house here and I’ll never stop hearing about something Gmail does better than OWA2007 :) ); why are the reply and forward buttons at the bottom of email I open? I had a friend try out Gmail recently and I did an improvised usability test on him, running him through the set of tasks we test novice users with in OWA. He failed the critical and simple task of replying to a long email he had received. This happened because he never scrolled to the bottom of the long email body to look for the little “reply” link down there.

    If anyone working on Gmail is reading this: please move the reply/forward buttons to the top of the email bodies. Or perhaps just add them to the top of the page as well?

    Btw, if anyone reading this blog has similar pet peeves with things OWA could do better in terms of usability, I’d love to hear about them. Silly usability issues like that should be caught in usability testing and there is no big investment decision to make about fixing them or not.

    On to the specific questions above:

    Stefan: I’m not going to ruin the suspense of waiting for Exchange2007 Beta2, but I can give you a hint that you can make your calendar look like a Christmas tree if you’re really into using categories.

    JS: OWA2007 won’t have much shared calendar support when we RTM. I personally really miss this feature. It’s definitely something we are looking at for future releases.

    Jeff: Voting buttons is one of those features that we want to add in each release, and every time something more important goes ahead of it in the priority list. I can assure you it is on the list as we consider features for each release we do. Some day it’ll be in OWA. It just isn’t used enough (in Outlook) by our customer base for us to have made that investment yet. Whereas voting buttons are used a lot by a few customers/users, there are so many other features we need to add which are used occasionally but by many more customers/users.

    Bronco: Since you give that ultimatum, does that mean you promise to upgrade to Exchange 2007 if we have a Browsable Address Book? 

    I think you’ll be very happy when you see the Browsable OWA Address Book I mention above in response to Jesse’s question on the same topic. There may still be other features in the MessageWare plus pack you’ll like (eg. the ability to use a non-AD LDAP directory for OWA address resolution), so if you like it for OWA2003, you could evaluate the version they are building for OWA2007 as well.

    sh00kie:  Users won’t be able to see shared calendars inline in the OWA UI. But You will be able to view calendar folders from other mailboxes using OWA “web parts” in Sharepoint or other portal products. I hope that answers your question.


  40. Joe says:

    Thanks for your response Kristian. I fully understand that you guys need to define scope for your project to ensure you deliver the best possible experience to the largest chunk of the OWA userbase.

    With regard to Firefox and IE coming closer to supporting standards in a consistent approach, I do applaud the IE team for going down this path.

    You mentioned your framework for deciding browser support within OWA, specifically pointing out that usage is a key determining factor in making decisions about inclusion of a particular browser version into your support model. This model of support is quite dangerous, however I – and projects I have worked on – have used it in the past.

    I raise the browser-share model as a dangerous model because usage share can be skewed when you cripple the experience of non-supported browsers. For instance – I use Firefox (or derivatives thereof) 99% of the time, however I always visit OWA with IE. I’d rather not, but the crippled version of the product is so much less desirable than the premium version that I find myself with no choice. Choice is the key word here, and I believe (no doubt some will disagree) that given the choice, OWA browser share may be significantly different to that currently reported with OWA 2003.

    Hopefully, when IE6 support finally goes the way of IE 5.5 support, your team will be free to embrace standards and do away with browser specific hacks (a whole other topic).

  41. kandaker says:

    Thanks for the feedback Joe!

    I agree with you it would be dangerous for us to use statistics like “how many customers/users use OWA2003 with IE” and “how many customers/users use OWA2003 with Firefox” as the determining factor of whether we add Firefox support or not. If we were doing that I agree that we wouldn’t be understanding how our customers _want_ to use OWA. We would only be understanding how our customers use OWA today because of limitations/designs we currently have in the product.

    Our goal is to understand how our customers _want_ to use OWA, and make decisions based on that. So we don’t look at the browser statistics for “browsers hitting OWA” to make the prioritization decisions about browser support. We look at the browser statistics for “browsers used on the Internet” and “browsers used within our customer organizations” to make those prioritization decisions.

    We also listen to what customers are asking for as a good measure of what they want since statistics never tell the full story no matter how many surveys, site logs or research firms we draw from.

    On the other topic of “browser specific hacks” you mention, we actually already went down the path of not using any IE-specific mechanisms in OWA2007. OWA2003 made use of a few mechanisms like that, but since we were doing a rewrite we had the luxury of replacing those with mechanisms more generally supported among different browsers. So there’s not big piece of browser infrastructure OWA relies on which works only in IE. The decision about the browser matrix of OWA is all about the investment we allocate to OWA, and the need of additional browser support as compared to the need for all the other OWA features our customers want. Even now that we use only browser infrastructure commonly supported by more browsers there is a significant development and (even larger) test cost associated with supporting more browser types and versions.


  42. Martin E says:

    @OWA user: Damn, you figured it all out!

    I expect Bill Gates to hand over the reigns of Microsoft to Steve Jobs as soon as he has a chance to read your fresh and scathing comment on how Microsoft has the _nerve_ to develop for their own products first and foremost and only providing a fully functional UI for browsers they do not own or support.

    And yes, Firefox is right behind Internet Explorer — 60% behind…

  43. tt says:

    Two calendar requests

    1 – non-premium browsers be allowed a monthly calendar view

    2 – please provide a monthly calendar view that is only purely the calendar, showing every single item in the calendar on one HTML page – no scroll bars on each date, no "…" buttons – just expand the table cell for the date so it shows every single item so I can print it, I do not care if it doesn’t print on a single page pretty, just need to see EVERYTHING – I cannot get such a thing from Exchange or Outlook right now, and it makes scheduling nearly impossible – however, open source apps like WebCal provide this right out of the box


  44. Richard Sperry says:

    How can I get my hands on this?

  45. Chris says:

    I live in OWA and 2007 is looks great…. Thank you

  46. Tan Duc says:

    Screw Firefox.

  47. kandaker says:

    tt: Thanks for the feedback. We will certainly think about that usage scenario for the monthly calendar as we design it for OWA2007. Most users of the monthly calendar have a different requirement from what you describe. They have a requirement that the whole calendar should fit on one screen at the same time so they can get a quick overview of what’s going on that month. I can’t promise we can address both these conflicting requirements, but I can assure you we will try to come up with a good UI doing just that.

    Richard: If you’ll be coming by TechEd in Boston in June I think there’s a chance you maybe able to get your hands on a build of Exchange12. Otherwise we are aiming to have Exchange12 Beta2 out for public review this summer.

  48. Robert says:

    Why don’t you support colored appointment items in the calendar like Outlook does?

  49. lee says:

    What about archiving emails in personal folders (.pst)?  With an Outlook client, one can archive emails that way onto a local drive.  With OWA, there’s no way to archive emails (or enlighten me if there is).  The emails reside on the server, and when the dreaded "mailbox is full" message comes from the administrator, there’s no choice but to delete emails.  If the user has the "luxury" of accessing the same email account thru an Outlook client, the emails can be archived.  But it’s not uncommon to have only OWA access.

  50. JohnT says:

    I know this may be a little off topic, but does anyone know why Exchange 2007 won’t install on Windows "Longhorn" server beta2?  All the posts I see are people trying to install it on Windows Server 2003 and they get the MMC 3.0 error.  I get this on my Longhorn installation.  Doesn’t Longhorn come with MMC 3.0?  Anyone know of a work-around so I can test this setup?  Thanks!

  51. Exchange says:


    The answer is – it has not been fully tested yet and – seeing that Longhorn Server does not come out before Exchange 2007, it is going to take little more time too.

    If you wonder about MMC 3.0 errors, you might want to look into this:

    That was a problem on the Beta 1 build of Exchange 2007.

    Not sure if this will even work on LH or not and that does not mean that you might not get some other error when installing on LH!

  52. JohnT says:

    Hey Exchange,

    Thanks for the info.  I figured it was something with it just not seeing something with the installer, or similar.  I’m rebuilding my lab box with 2003 right now to try to mess with it again.

  53. MIMP says:

    kandaker: As a long time user of gmail I can agree wholeheartedly about the problems gmail has with replying and forwarding. They actually do have links at the top of the page but you cannot see them until you hit the "more options" link on the right, (which is an extra step many people never take.)

  54. anton says:


    How about to set permissions to folders via OWA?

    Can be OWA authenticate against RADIUS or LDAP/S for extra secure frontend (example – upcoming ISA 2006, which can auth users in AD without need to be a member of AD-domain)?

  55. Dan Sheehan says:

    We desperately would like the option for users to logon on to a mailbox by using the credentials of another account. Whether this be a resource account, or in one of my customers cases – accounts positions are consistently named and linked to disabled mailboxes, user accounts (since the users are transient) are seperate and not mail enabled. I.E. The poisition and the user account are "divorced" from each other with the user account having mailbox rights and send as on the position mailbox.

    something as simple as a check box under the username/password that says "My account is my mailbox". Uncheck it and another text box slides open on the screen which allows one to put in the alias of the mailbox that they truly want to logon to.

    Today we have written a custom ASP page that authenticates and looks up the alias they want to use (either by them typing the alias or the SMTP address – since that is what they did in the 5.5 OWA), and then it formats the URL to be . The reasons we want to move away from this are:

    1. No desire to support home grown code if it isn’t necessary.

    2. Users have to go through 2 "screens" to get to their mailbox even though it is a necessary evil. We would like to get down 1 screen to simplify their lives.

    Thanks for this consideration as I think other people out there would like to have the option to logon to a seperate mailbox they have permissions to – especially if their own account is not mail enabled.

  56. Kristian Andaker says:

    It’s great to see the feedback keeps coming! A few more answers here:

    Robert: I think DJ’s hint above about staying tuned for Beta2 to see what we did with categories in OWA is the best answer for you. As I said above in reply to someone else, you’ll be able to make your calendar look like a christmas tree if you feel like it with the OWA category support in Beta2.

    Lee: In Exchange 2007 we are making a big investment in making it much cheaper for customers to provide large (2GB+) mailboxes to their users by improving Exchange’s store technology so you can use cheaper hard drives. We believe storing email and calendar data on a server is a better long-term strategy than having that data stored on each client because clustering, backups etc. make the data access more reliable when it is stored on a server. But if your company for some reason doesn’t increase quotas to the point where you don’t really have to worry about deleting much mail, then Outlook is the solution for you. Users who need offline access to their mailbox data, or who need client archiving are not among the users we target for OWA-only mailbox access.

    Anton: OWA can’t authenticate using RADIUS or LDAP; it only authenticates against AD using Kerberos. IIS does the authentication for OWA. But you can deploy ISA2004 or ISA2006 in front of OWA to do "pre-authentication" and that pre-authentication can use RADIUS. You should never deploy Exchange 2003 FE or Exchange 2007 CAS servers in the perimeter network since they need to be domain members to do the AD authentication. To have OWA authentication in the perimeter network for all traffic before it reaches OWA, you need to be using "pre-authentication" on a reverse proxy such as ISA. One of the most importan reason ISA invested in pre-authentication and RADIUS authentication support was to provide great "pre-authentication" for OWA.

    You won’t be able to set folder permissions through OWA in RTM. Users who need advanced features need to have Outlook.

    Dan: OWA2007 will have UI for users to "open other mailboxes". To get to that UI the user must already have opened a mailbox though. There won’t be anything like a "select your mailbox; in addition to your username" on the logon page. The OWA2003 mechanism of putting the SMTP address of mailboxes in the OWA URL will also work to open other mailboxes.

  57. Dan Sheehan says:

    It’s good to hear that OWA 2007 will still accept the Alias in the URL string, but it is unfortunate that this isn’t on the plate right now.

    Is there any way to file a feature request? I know just about every Exchange shop I know would like to make it easier for users to directly open and send mail from secondary mailboxes. I understand the feature for "open other mailboxes" will be there, but I doublt it will be a 100% swap out for directly logging on to the other mailbox. In addition it requires a primary mailbox as you noted which is an issue with my current customer who has sepereated mailbox identified from user accounts for the reasons I listed above (they are valid business reasons that the technology required a work around for).

    Thanks for the consideration of a DCR.

  58. Paul Gibbs says:

    Looks great so far.

    I have been an Exchange user since 1996 and am still looking for a usable "year view" on the client end. Can we not have a way to display the entire year on a page with dates bolded or colored to represent how busy the days are? (E.g., green non-bold represents an open day, bold red represents 80% full during "business hours" as defined in an option elsewhere, bold mustard represents 50% full during business hours, bold green represents 1%-49% full during business hours.)

    Other PIMs back in the early 90s had this feature, and I my road-warrior employers refused to switch to Outlook from Lotus Organizer for a couple years because they had come to rely on this overview when scheduling multi-day speaking appointments by scanning through 1-5 years at a time.

    Please take a look at adding a year view!

  59. Pierre Roman says:

    Is there any plans to allow users to add graphics to their signature block in OWA??


  60. John D says:

    A simple request:

    How about an inbuilt Folder Size button so OWA only users can determine how large their mailbox is and also what their quota is.

  61. DJ says:

    Dan, I’m not sure I understand your scenario 100% – how would you verify the credentials of the primary user? For security, we require the user to first log on and also have full access rights to the other mailbox they access.

    Paul, it’s true we don’t have this view and neither does Outlook. We have had many requests for this and even more the month view. Know that we do have these Calendar features on our own wish list.

    Pierre, we don’t support adding images in the signature this time but thanks for the feature request – we’ll add this to our list as well.

    John, I think you’ll be happy with our new mailbox quotas feature. Hovering over the top Mailbox folder will allow you to see current space used vs. total space allowed. Once the user is over their warning quota the quota information is shown as an infobar over the folder list. Look for a more in depth post on this feature soon…

  62. Brian G says:

    Please bring back Public Folder Access!

    We have several customers who use this feature on a daily basis!

    We have always used public folders via OWA as a selling point for Exchange. To remove it will be a major loss and I don’t want to have to explain to customers that Microsoft has removed features.

    To remove a major feature in this product is a MAJOR mistake. Remember, Exchange is the name of the product. OWA with public folders allows companies to "exchange" company address books and calendars.

    Do not make customers want to migrate to another product.

    Removing key features only makes customers resent Microsoft!

    Thank you,

    The people who sell your product

  63. Rohit says:

    Do you support Video Messaging? E.g If I call using Messanger with Web Cam on and if person is not answering, Can I leave a video message?

  64. Brian says:

    Question off the topic above, three has been alot of problems with IE7 and the smime control. Is the IE team or the Exchange team going to adress this?

  65. Corey Furman says:

    We have trouble opening XLS files in Public Folders thru OWA on our EX2k3 box.  I know you have decided to include PF’s; have you addressed this issue?

  66. Corey Furman says:

    here’s a simple thing if it isn’t already there: in Ex2k3 OWA, in mail folders, one must individually click check boxes to select multiple messages (ie: to delete them).  Please consider adding a script (perhaps as an OnClick event of the checkbox image in the column headers) that would select all or invert select.  Seems like a little thing, but it would be bang for the buck.

  67. Jack says:

    Based on exchange 2003 OWA

    Import and Export capabilities, especially contacts.

    View Message Headers

    Rolodex style address book – like Outlook

    More user friendly interface for non-IE users (like Hotmail)

  68. Bryan Pang says:

    My customers are asking for Public Folder related features in OWA. This is the single most important feature they are looking forward to… Really looking forward to some good news on PF support in OWA2007.

  69. Menori says:

    I still see that there is no feature to open other people’s calendars from within OWA (altleast one that provides a button to do this).

  70. Ben says:

    How about developing OWA Premium for Firefox only? That way it would work on all platforms and be quick to develop (joke). That said, the lack of Firefox (and Safari) support is truly lame, but not a large surprise from MS. I understood the lack of support for alternate browsers in OWA 2003 (the state of the browsers was much different at that time), but this is 2006!

    Google is rocking on the cross-browser support (and doing all those fancy AJAX things) — just look at the calendar UI. IBM is talking up Firefox / Linux and Mac support with the new Notes products. It will be interesting to see if Google releases a hosted integrated enterprise version of gmail / calendar… You better believe that it would rock multiple browsers.

  71. ESEUtil /p is fun says:

    Best feature in the world would be a way to map an Outlook Data File (PST) into OWA. I was thinking it could be done similar to the way virtual drives are mapped on GMAIL or other webmail hosts.  An API could be used to read the PST and it could be mapped to the UI on OWA thus eliminating offline MAPI client use (Outlook).  Thank me later.

  72. snixon says:

    Dear Exchange Program Manager,

    I understand your need to rationalize why you are not providing full feature support of Firefox. Life as a developer, SysAdmin, or an everyday computer user is a compromise between what we want and what’s available.

    I hope that you are getting that your customers *want* Firefox/Opera/Safari to as closely functional as IE. Why can’t MS hire a real design stud and get these problem worked out? How much pressure do you need from your customers before you *really* listen? You *can* make better products.

    We’re not really interested in excuses just actions.

  73. Anonymous says:

    Ah, a much cooler skin for a very cool blog. Speaking of being cool, have you added CoolBeans to your

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