Interesting approach to public folder support in Outlook Web App 2013


Those who have upgraded to Exchange 2013 CU1 might have noticed that OWA now supports public folders (again), but only the new, modern, super-duper form held in public folder mailboxes and not the old, decrepit, but still loved-by-some version that are in production today. Supporting new PFs through OWA allows the denizens of Office 365 to be exposed to the magic of public folders for the first time, a development that I bet is causing some to break out in hives of excitement.

Ancient PFs have to be transformed to modern before OWA will acknowledge their existence. The migration requires process that is still largely untested in the cold light of some of the convoluted hierarchies and “interesting” use cases for PFs that have evolved since 1996. Suffice to say that I shall be keeping a close eye on how the PF migration story evolves over the coming months.

The OWA developers have taken a very interesting approach to PF support. Instead of taking the traditional route of allowing users to open and browse the entire PF hierarchy, users have to add selected PFs to their “Favorites” list, which then appear in OWA. Folders can be added using Outlook or OWA as favorites are available to both clients.

There is considerable logic behind the change as it’s easy to lose track within a large PF hierarchy and the new approach is probably much better for client and server performance. However, people are creatures of habit and I bet this change will be greeted by a loud groan from some. People didn’t like when Office introduced the ribbon and some won’t like this approach either. Me? I think it’s OK. But then again, my glory days of using public folders lie some considerable distance in the past and I’m probably not a representative sample.

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On-premises and cloud-based Microsoft Exchange Server and all the associated technology that runs alongside Microsoft's enterprise messaging server.


Tony Redmond

Tony Redmond is a senior contributing editor for Windows IT Pro. His latest books are Office 365 for Exchange Professionals (eBook, May 2015) and Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 Inside Out: Mailbox...
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