Getting the Most Out of Your Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Experience with Mobile Devices


 

Business users are increasingly on the move and many of them want to take their Exchange mailbox data with them. Exchange Server 2007 provides built in mobile access through Exchange ActiveSync. Users can synchronize their email messages, contacts, calendar, and task data directly to their Exchange ActiveSync-enabled mobile device. Users can even access some Unified Messaging data such as voice mail messages on their device by synchronizing the e-mail message with the voice mail file attached. Through the installation of a third party add-in, they may even be able to view the faxes directly on their mobile phone. With Direct Push, Exchange data is sent in near real time. A long-standing HTTPS request is maintained between the device and the Exchange Server. When new items arrive or items are changed in the Exchange mailbox, those changes are synchronized to the device.

Now that I’ve got your attention, you’re probably wondering what sort of device you need in order to take advantage of all this functionality. That’s exactly the topic we’re going to cover in this post. There are many different types of mobile devices available today. It seems every few weeks there is a new device launched on one of the major wireless carriers. These devices come from a variety of manufacturers, run a variety of mobile operating systems, and are available in a variety of form factors. You can buy devices with full QWERTY keyboards, ones that play music, ones that have a built-in GPS, or ones that come in flashy colors. Some mobile devices have built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi functionality and can interact with the audio systems in some cars. Some function as laptop modems and still others as presentation devices with built-in infrared remote control capabilities. Some mobile devices are small clamshell form factors, while others are larger than a deck of playing cards with fold out screens large enough to watch videos and view pictures.

Ultimately, the device’s operating system largely determines the features it supports. The device’s original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and the device’s carrier can also specify whether certain features are available, however all of the features we’ll talk about in this post should be available regardless of which OEM or carrier you choose.

Exchange Server 2007’s Mobile Features

First, let’s examine some of the more popular mobile features for Exchange Server 2007:

Feature

Description

Direct Push

Compatible devices maintain a secure connection with the server, receiving any new or updated e-mail, calendar items, contacts, or tasks as soon as they arrive on the server.

Search

Searching from a compatible device can access the user’s entire mailbox on the Exchange Server as well as the data stored locally on the device.

Message Flags

Users can flag messages for follow-up directly on the device. Only a single flag type is supported. The flag type defaults to the red Today flag.

HTML Messages

Compatible devices can display HTML formatted email messages with full formatting. Replying to an HTML formatted message will preserve the formatting for all users. Messages can also utilize left-right scrolling for display of formatted data.

Inline Message Fetch

Retrieving attachment data or downloading a large message happens immediately, without the user reloading the entire message or performing a full synchronization.

Information Rights Management

Users can view Information Rights Management (IRM) protected e-mail on their mobile devices. An IRM client is installed on compatible mobile devices to validate a user’s credentials.

Out of Office Support

Users can set their Out of Office status as well as modify the Out of Office auto-reply message on compatible mobile devices.

Enhanced Calendaring

Users can access meeting attendee information as well as schedule or update meetings directly on their devices.

Self-Service Device Management

Users perform some device management tasks in Outlook Web Access including sending logging information to an Administrator, issuing a remote wipe command to clear the contents of their mobile devices, and resetting their device passwords.

Enhanced Device Security Management for Administrators

Administrators can set per user device policies to manage a variety of settings including: minimum password length, password strength, password history requirements, whether attachments can be downloaded to the device, how many incorrect passwords can be entered before a data wipe is initiated, and an inactivity timeout interval.

Windows SharePoint Services and Windows file share (UNC) document access

Users can access documents stored on internal Windows SharePoint Services sites and Windows file shares. Administrators can place specific sites on the allow or deny list.

For a full listing of the features available with Exchange ActiveSync, see the following topics.

Choosing a Device That’s Right For You

There are a wide variety of devices that support Exchange ActiveSync. In order to determine which device is right for you, you will need to consider the following questions.

  • Device Input Methods: Some devices are equipped with a full QWERTY keyboard for easier input. Smaller devices require you to use the dial pad to enter all text.
  • Screen size: If you will be using your device to view pictures, documents, or videos, a larger screen size might be necessary.
  • Battery life: If you require extended battery life, consider a device with an additional battery.
  • Additional Features: You can choose from a wide variety of additional features including MP3 playback, Bluetooth, and WiFi capabilities.

Once you have identified the physical features that are important to you, it is time to choose a mobile device operating system. In addition to Windows Mobile powered devices, there are a variety of other operating systems available.

Non-Windows Mobile Powered Devices

I love my Windows Mobile 6.0 device. In fact, I rarely go anywhere without it. Just because I choose a Windows Mobile device, however, doesn’t mean that it’s the right device for everyone. There are many excellent devices available that do not run Windows Mobile. Many of these devices are compatible with Microsoft Exchange and some support Exchange ActiveSync. The following table lists a number of the different non-Windows Mobile devices and the features they support.

Device Manufacturer

Description

Supported Features

Nokia

Mail for Exchange is available on Nokia Eseries mobile devices.

Synchronization of e-mail, calendar, and contact data over a cellular network or a wireless LAN.

Sony Ericsson

Newer Smartphone devices support Exchange ActiveSync

Synchronization of e-mail, calendar, and contact data over a cellular network. Direct Push is supported through a third-party program.

Palm

The Treo 700 and Treo 750 run Windows Mobile software with support for Exchange ActiveSync and Direct Push. The Treo 650 and Treo 680 series devices support Exchange ActiveSync.

The Treo 700 and Treo 750 run Windows Mobile 5.0 with MSFP. See the next section for supported features. The Treo 650 and Treo 680 devices support e-mail, calendar, and contact synchronization over the cellular network.

Motorola

Licenses the Exchange ActiveSync protocol

Synchronization of e-mail, calendar, and contact data over the cellular network on a variety of devices.

Symbian

Licenses the Exchange ActiveSync protocol

Synchronization of e-mail, calendar, and contact data over the cellular network on a variety of devices.

For more information about these devices and the features they support, consult the device manufacturers and the device documentation.

Windows Mobile Powered Devices

If you choose a Windows Mobile powered device, you have several different versions to choose from. Windows Mobile 6.0 offers the richest experience, providing full support for all of the features I’ve talked about in this post. In addition to the Exchange ActiveSync features, you’ll also be able to view Microsoft Office documents on your device. Windows Mobile 6.0 also includes certificate management making it easier to install a client certificate for authentication on your mobile device.

If you choose an older version of Windows Mobile, there is one important fact to consider. Windows Mobile 5.0 devices need the Messaging Security and Feature Pack (MSFP) in order to support Direct Push and Exchange ActiveSync mailbox policies. While the majority of Windows Mobile 5.0 devices now come with MSFP pre-installed, check your device documentation to confirm this. In addition to supporting Direct Push and Exchange ActiveSync mailbox policies, the MSFP also provides support for remote device wipe, task synchronization, and global address book lookup. The following table lists the features supported by different versions of Windows Mobile.

Feature

Windows Mobile 6.0

Windows Mobile 5.0 with MSFP

Older Windows Mobile powered devices

Direct Push

Yes

Yes

No

Email, Calendar, and Contact Synchronization

Yes

Yes

Yes

Task Synchronization

Yes

Yes

No

HTML Email Support

Yes

No

No

Message Flags

Yes

No

No

Meeting Attendee Information

Yes

No

No

Out of Office Management

Yes

No

No

Exchange Search

Yes

No

No

Windows SharePoint Services and Windows file share (UNC) document access

Yes

No

No

Inline Message Fetch

Yes

No

No

Exchange ActiveSync Policy Support

Yes

Yes

No

Remote Device Wipe

Yes

Yes

No

SSL Encryption

Yes

Yes

Yes

Device Certificate for Authentication Management

Yes

No

No

I hope this post has helped you choose the right mobile device for you and for your organization. For more information about Exchange 2007 and mobile devices, see the following links.

 

Patricia DiGiacomo

Comments (23)
  1. Andrew Calvo says:

    Thanks for pointing out how much you can do with a WM Powered Device w/ Exchange..

    I was a little fusterated how you kept referring to the great features of Windows Mobile 6, but no "regular" people (aka, people who don’t work at Microsoft) can’t purchase a device with Windows Mobile 6! Not only that, but Microsoft (and device manufacturers) are not really giving any information about when it will be available, what it will be available on, or if we will be given free upgrades to WM 6 if we own a WM5 device.

    Next time, please do not create a post about how great a system is when 99.9% of the people cannot use that system, and its pretty much a mystery as to when or how they will be able to use that system.

  2. Mark D says:

    What about clients that aren’t Windows Mobile Powered?

    2003 OMA allowed you to connect, but you got an annoying "popup" about not being an known-good client or something (been a while since I’ve looked at it).  Does OMA now allow any client to connect?  Even just basic email without the annoying alert.

  3. Exchange says:

    Mark D,

    OMA as such is gone from Exchange 2007:

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa998911.aspx

  4. Mark D says:

    Is there equivalent functionality for "generic" phones with an internet browser?

  5. Patricia DiGiacomo says:

    Windows Mobile 6.0 devices should be available soon. I will post an update when they are. As for free updates, this is completely dependent on the device manufacturer and mobile operator. One operator might release a free update and another might not.

    As for an OMA replacement for Exchange Server 2007, the only possible suggestions are POP3/IMAP4. Even that isn’t a perfect replacement as it requires an actual mail client.

    -Patricia

  6. Jessica says:

    cool. but, how can ActiveSync recognize the device, even the name of the device is shown as soon as the device is connected (for example it can detect either the device is i-mate or nokia…etc.) ??

  7. Patricia DiGiacomo says:

    All devices broadcast information about themselves in several ways. Desktop ActiveSync and Exchange ActiveSync both gather some information about the device when synchronization is performed. For the technical details of everything that’s included in the device information, you’d need to contact the device manufacturer.

    -Patricia

  8. pesos says:

    TMobile Dash and Palm 750 have been confirmed to be getting WM6 in the near future.  I hope Verizon offers it for my 700w :-(

  9. Bill Coulter says:

    Are you able to tell us what the Apple iPhone will support? Any chance they’ve licensed ActiveSync?

  10. patent says:

    very nice informations…thank youu ver much.mr samii….

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hi guys, The msexchangeteam.com team have blogged some information about functionalities and features

  12. Ben Hoffman - ExchangeIS- Exchange 2007 says:

    Great article, very informative

  13. Anonymous says:

    Exchange 2007: So Far, So Good Read Your Exchange Emails With Gmail Exchange 2007 and Outlook 2007 –

  14. dmackdaddy says:

    Hi,

    So I’ve set up Exchange 2003 + 2007 in coexistence and I am now looking to move over my mailboxes to EX2007, but first I want to make sure Activesync works. I’ve got OWA working fine when I change my Firewall settings to point SSL to my new server. Now I just need to get windows mobile 5 syncing with the EX2007 server. I think I’m having issues with the new Certificate created by EX2007. I know how to download the certificate on EX2003 but does anyone know how you download the new EX2007 certificate to your mobile phone? I’ve tried reading their HELP and while pretty good, has nothing on this topic. Any help would be appreciated with another donation!

  15. APer says:

    this all sounds great, but it seems to me the bulk of the advantage comes from using Windows Mobile 6, not Exchange 2007. woudln’t you stand to gain these same benifits using Mobile 6 with Exchange 2003>

  16. Michael says:

    dmack: For WM 5 devices, (regardless of your Exchange server being 2003 or 2007) you install your SSL Trusted Root Certificate in the same way.  Exchange 2007 Client Access Server comes installed with a self-signed SSL Cert, but it would be a lot easier on your deployments if you purchased an SSL Certificate from a CA that is well known.  There are less expensive SSL vendors, such as GoDaddy which have their Trusted Root Cert on the device.  

  17. Michael says:

    Aper: All of the new mobility features that Patricia highlighted above are enabled on the server in Exchange 2007.  Even if you had a new WM 6 device, you would not get the new features, such as:

    – HTML Format Emails

    – Quick Flags

    – Meeting Invite Information

    – SharePoint/UNC Document Access

    – Setting Out of Office messages

    – Search

    – Extended IT Policy Support (eg. Password Expiration and History, Password Recovery, etc.)

  18. MRT says:

    Mobile deployments will continue to be relatively slow due to a number of factors:

    – Availability of Mobile 6 devices – Now that it is free will help.

    – Availability of Smaller/sexer devices that use less power.

    – Certificate Requirements – Businesses need cheap certs and  Enterprise tools for managing and provisioning certificates to phones.

    – Adoption of Exchange 2007 in the Government/Enterprise.

  19. Si UK says:

    Exchange 2007 with windows mobile 6 works amazingly well – if you are worried about SSL certificate costs, just install a StartCom Free SSL certificate (https://www.startssl.com/) on
    your server and manually add StartCom as a trusted authority to your mobile devices and you are away – Free SSL certificates! No need to pay all thoese £££/$$$ to large companies (except MS I guess!).

  20. PW DE says:

    nice overview! Very interesting.

Comments are closed.