Microsoft's Exchange Server team is at it again. Yesterday, Exchange program manager KC Lemson posted another update and video demo on new features coming with Exchange 14. The biggest news is probably full support for Outlook Web Access (OWA) in the Firefox and Safari browsers. Other new features highlighted with this Exchange 14 update are IM integrated into the web mail client and a threaded conversation view for email.
According to Lemson's post on the Microsoft Exchange Team Blog, "Openness has always been part of Exchange's DNA, which you can see from how we license Exchange ActiveSync to partners and competitors alike." Now this openness extends to Firefox and Safari so that users can get all the features of OWA on those browsers—no more being forced to use the limited-functionality OWA Light if you're not on Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE).
The video demo uses Firefox and Safari to illustrate the other new features. OWA will include presence information in your Contacts and email messages, and the web client has integrated IM capability. Right-click your contact to open an IM window, and you're off.
For those of us with out-of-control Inboxes, the threaded conversations view should be very welcome. The Inbox view shows each conversation as a single line; you can expand it to view the messages within that conversation. The conversation view even shows deleted messages and messages you sent, which can be really handy if you need to double-check what you told someone. This view also shows branched conversations, which can happen when someone replies to an earlier message in the string.
The experience of using Firefox, Safari, or IE appears to be quite seamless—the interface appears pretty much the same no matter which you use. OWA will apparently be renamed Outlook Live to highlight the rich capabilities included with the web client. These new features, particularly the multi-browser support, are sure to be popular with users.
Check out KC Lemson's post and watch the demo. And let the Exchange 14 team know what features are important to you! Also, you can leave a comment below to let us know which features you'd like to see us covering in more detail in the coming months.