New OWA themes for Exchange Server 2007 SP1

As I mentioned a couple months ago on my blog, we have been working on two new OWA themes. With the release of Exchange 2007 SP1 Beta 2, we're ready to say what they are:  Xbox and Zune!

Here's a preview:


- KC Lemson

Comments (32)
  1. Brian says:

    More themes are always welcome!  :)  However, is it possible (in a relatively simple way) to customize and remove the logo (e.g. Zune) and keep the rest?  I like the readability of the Zune theme but I can already picture the help desk calls…  "Why does it say Zune on OWA?"  :)

  2. KC Lemson says:

    Brian – the themes aren’t on by default, so the only way a user would get that theme is if they chose it themselves. But if you really did want to remove the graphic, you can do that – look in the 3 directory on the filesystem for the file logopt.gif, you can just replace it with your own image of the same size for example.

  3. Trix says:


    Let’s include some themes that no professional organisation in their right mind would use… especially the Zune one (such a positive brand, that).

    Actually, I have no quibbles with including some examples for people to base their own templates off, but promoting these as a "feature" of SP1? Dear o dear.

  4. Themes says:

    I guess I don’t get why development resources were spent on consumer themes for a corporate product.  Out of all the features that could have been included in SP1 but weren’t – for the sake of instead including an XBOX theme or a Zune theme, it seems a bit odd.

  5. bday says:

    I certainly wouldn’t cal them features (nor do I think anyone called them that here), but merely examples of what we *could* do in the corporate world for our own installations.

  6. Dan_IT says:

    Seriously? Xbox and Zune themes for OWA?

    Does the Xbox theme authentically die every few weeks with the ring of three red lights?

    I guess the Zune users will get something out of this — since none of them ever find other Zune users to exchange songs with, this’ll be the first time they’ve ever gotten to do "the social" Zune-style!

  7. DReller says:

    Any chance of customizable skins in the future, or is this already available and just ‘hidden’?  I can imagine a few companies would like to be able to incorporate their corporate color scheme into OWA.

  8. Richard says:

    I just have to chip in here with a "me too". I really cannot understand why development time was used in creating these Microsoft vanity themes for what’s supposed to be a serious business email product.

  9. Mark says:

    The ability to make your own OWA skins is already possibile in Exchange 2003 as it was in Exchange 2007.  It dosen’t take very long to do so I wouldn’t say a lot of development time was wasted.  Just a little marketing ploy.  

    At least it gives us more templetes we can use to make our own designs.

  10. Exchange says:


    Please see the following – that should help you out:

  11. Shijaz says:

    Will our Exchange installation be "supportable by Microsoft" if we made and applied our own corporate themes?

  12. Loren says:

    Hey, how about you finish the freaking admin GUI rather than building out themes to promote the hopeless Zune? I mean, COME ON GUYS, Exchange 2007 is missing VERY IMPORTANT features and you are building a Zune theme?

    If Exchange 2007 was complete and I didn’t keep reading ‘we ran out of development time to finish X’ *and* we weren’t all waiting for a service pack to address a small number of those items and a large number of bugs, then fine, put together all the shameless marketing themes that you want (even if no one ever uses them). But for goodness sake you have customers out here struggling with an incomplete, buggy product that is very tedious to admin. So of course we’re scratching our heads about the development priorities here.

    What next, and Edsel theme?


  13. Jeff25 says:

    You TOTALLY hit the nail on the head, Loren!!!  LOL

  14. DReller says:

    Thanks, Exchange team!  Now I have something new to play with for a while. ;)

  15. jeremyvalentine says:

    I wont waste any time on whether I think themes are an appropriate use of dev time when they are so many unresolved issues mentioned already. As a forced early adopter (we have many mac clients using entourage – if you didnt know already that causes your streaming and EDB files to go crazy which is supposed to be gone in 2007) there are quite a few issues with OWA light.

    – no way to enable read, delivery receipts, nor do they work if set globally from a PC client and then use OWA light

    – no weekly calendar (monthly isnt there on either I know)

    – GAL searching isnt alphabetical with more than one page of results

    – GAL searching for Groups dont yeild all results with more than one page of results

    – no way to see your whole system folder list (that dropdown is a joke and nearly impossible to use if you have many folders)

  16. Rich says:

    My XBOX 360 Theme just overheated.

  17. Loren says:

    "Rich said:

    My XBOX 360 Theme just overheated. "


    Hey, how about a nice set of 500 character cmdlets to enable the <Easter Egg> iPhone OWA theme??


  18. Taylor says:

    I really hope these two themes don’t go out in the service pack to customers.  The XBOX and Zune themes have no place in a corporate product.  I can see my confused users wondering how in the world they "accidentally" logged into their XBox via our webmail.  I definitely agree that development time should be spent on fixing the administration console and other key features before these misguided themes are dreamed up.

  19. virek says:

    Rather pathetic for a professional organisation don’t you think?

  20. Loren says:

    I have a new idea. Since EMS/cmdlets are so great, why not eliminate the Zune theme and the entire OWA GUI along with it. Heck, we’ll just have end users enter really handy cmdlets in a text box and, when they get all 387 characters they’ll get to read one email message (perhaps even the one they wanted) in plain text.

    Another 127 character cmdlet can be employed to flag a message as spam, but only 19 characters required (plus the subect, sender SMTP address, and host name of the sending server) to move a message to a folder (sorry, three cmdlets totalling 1013 characters to create the folder first).

    Best feature? We don’t have to look at the Zune or Xbox 360 logo.


  21. IlineOWAthemes says:


    People need to relax around here a bit. You see – I think it is okay to have something a bit fun in the enteprrise product. It is for end users after all – if they don’t want to look at it – they do not have to.

    I also find it amusing that some think that Microsoft actually said "OK, let’s see – OWA features… two themes or <insert the feature you are missing>? Themes it is!".

    Developers are allowed to have a bit of fun too. If people understand and approve that Google lets their employees work on creative projects – is it so hard to imagine that someone at MS actually worked overtime to create those themes just because they thought it would be cool to have? Could it be??

  22. Tim says:

    please get the diribution list function working!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Digitalmess says:

    I have to agree that there are a bunch of features/bugs that are still in Exchange 2007 Console and OWA that should get top priority. I also think that these themes would probably be used by a few of my students within my college, as opposed to the custom theme that we’ve designed using our college’s color theme. If any of you have ever worked on a development team and created your own custom theme in exchange, then you’d know that at some point in the development process 1 or 2 developers would be left with nothing to do until someone else completes something and instead of having that developer sitting around with his thumb up his arse… have him do something semi-constructive…

    PS> Designing our own custom login and minor customization to the basic OWA Theme to include our schools colors only took me a couple hours… And I’m sure some of you have sat around for a few hours screwing with something that didn’t really mean much to anyone else but you… so how about cutting a little break for these people… Still would like an office release date for SP1 so I can stop searching all the time for it!

  24. TBonan says:

    We are currently resisting a corporate upgrade to Exchange 2007 because of the uselessness (frankly) of Exchange OWA 07, which must be used a great deal by our employees. The development of frivolous themes does nothing to restore confidence.

  25. Mstrider says:

    Wow, you sure seem to be getting slammed about these themes. Personally I like them. Its a breath of fresh air to see something a little different than the "corporate" style themes everyone seems to want. I am sure alot of the "development" time used on these themes was personal and unpaid. I would like to say Thanks for the time and work you guys put in. These little projects always show me that you enjoy your work and don’t just show up for a paycheck. All of you guys complaining, get a life, what do you gain by being rude to these guys on the blogs?

    Thanks again!!

  26. Paul L says:

    I agree with Mstrider, a little customization didnt hurt anyone!

  27. Blaze says:

    Why don’t you just make OWA work right?  Right now I have an OWA site that has been down since the Rollup 4 update.  Trying to uninstall or reinstall the RU4 locks up the installer and has to be forcefully ended after hours of waiting.  MAKE OWA work, there is currently no fix for the described error and my customer is VERY unhappy with Exchange 2007’s availability of OWA!

  28. Mark F says:

    Themes are nice, but… From what I’ve read, Exchange 2007 was supposed to provide a ‘better experience’ than Exchange 2003 for non-Windows access, using non-Microsoft browsers. Unfortunately, ‘pretty’ seems to have been given much higher priority than functionality. The OWA ‘Light’ client, for example, can’t print. What good is an email and calendar client that can’t print? There was functionality in the OWA2003 product that is now gone: the weekly calendar view, for example. Apparently the idea was to make a pretty, static, page that doesn’t use frames so it can look nice on browsers more than 5 years old from niche browser vendors. A company that was really interested in cross-platform support would have noticed that the major cross-platform web browsers (e.g., Firefox, Opera) all use frames, all are more web-standards compliant than IE6, all support subsidiary windows and tabs. Judging by behavior instead or talk, I have to conclude that Microsoft wants  to sell Exchange 2007 only into all-Microsoft shops, because they sure as h*** don’t want to work with other desktops.

  29. Leslie H says:

    Yes, I agree with Mark.  I’m part of a big university environment.  We would like to use Exchange to do universtiy-wide calendaring.  But it is very difficult to recommend to the powers that be when OWA ‘light is the theme of the day for non-IE web browsers.   Only a day view?  Not able to subscribe to other people’s calendars?  Very non-intuitive free-busy scheduling assistant? People like using Google & Zimbra calendaring better.  We have a large Windows community but the lack of support  in your product for mainstream browsers like Firefox and Opera has us looking elsewhere.   I remember reading that you would have a more fully featured web interface for Firefox users.  Is this ever going to happen?  We have a hard time selling use of your product to a wide and diverse community without it.

  30. easy1ndian says:

    I think they should have made an option to set OWA premium available only to particular users such as managers. All other users should be getting light version. may be my lack of knowledge, is there a setting like that? and please, please try to make OWA premium available for other browsers as well. for the next version, please please do something with the database architecture and memory management, it’s killing my system and time. another suggestion would be to have mailbox, hub & client (on the same server) support for CCR

    Thank you

  31. Jason says:

    Dear Microsoft,

    Stop wasting time developing themes for Exchange 2007 SP1 and just get the product released.  I have a feeling that we are more concerned with getting functionality back that was stripped out rather than gay ass themes.

    Thank you,

    Concerned Admin

  32. johnymac says:

    Isn’t the Zune theme supposed to have a background on the reading pane??

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