Selecting An Exchange Client

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Selecting An Exchange Client

Unread postby rajeevmahura » Sat Jul 05, 2008 10:52 am

If you’re considering implementing Exchange 2000 in your organization, one of the biggest things that you’ll have to consider is what software clients will use to access Exchange. There are actually several different mail clients that you can use, each with their good points and bad points. The mail client that’s appropriate for your organization will depend on your budget, operating system, and which Exchange 2000 features that your clients need access to. In this article, I’ll discuss some of the various mail clients that you can use with Exchange 2000.

If you were to ask someone at Microsoft what client software you should use to access Exchange server, the standard answer would probably be Outlook. Outlook is designed to take full advantage of every feature that Exchange 2000 has to offer.
Obviously, Outlook is a great choice for a mail client, but there are some situations in which you might not want to use Outlook. For example, if your company was having budget problems, then Outlook might be too expensive. Typically people purchase Outlook bundled with Microsoft Office although you can get a stand alone copy of Outlook for $109. When you consider the cost of a copy of Outlook for each client, you can see that installing Outlook on a company wide basis could get really expensive.

Another potential problem with Outlook is system compatibility. Outlook is designed to run on Windows machines, although a Macintosh version is available. Therefore, your UNIX clients won’t be able to use Outlook. Outlook also tends to consume a considerable amount of memory hard disk space, so older systems with limited resources may have trouble using it.

Outlook Express

Another alternative is Outlook Express. Outlook Express comes with Windows. Again, compatibility will be an issue because Outlook Express isn’t designed to function with other operating systems. In an Exchange 2000 environment, Outlook Express offers Windows users a low cost method of sending and receiving mail, participating in newsgroups and performing Directory Service lookups. However, Outlook Express isn’t designed to take advantage of Exchange 2000’s various collaboration features.

Outlook Web Access
Still another method that users can use to access an Exchange 2000 server is Outlook Web Access. Outlook Web Access involves users accessing the Exchange server through a Web page that’s designed to resemble a copy of Outlook. Outlook Web Access makes the Exchange Server available to any client with a Web browser and supports the majority of the same features as Outlook. The biggest drawback to Outlook Web Access is that there are quite a few features that are supported in Outlook, but not in Outlook Web Access. These tend to be the more basic features such as spell checking and access to your personal folders or personal address book.

Standard Mail Client
One final method that your clients can use to access Exchange is through a standard mail client that supports SMTP and POP3. These generic mail clients are available for virtually every operating system imaginable and tend to consume few system resources. Unfortunately, these programs typically limit you to just sending and receiving mail.

Exchange Client
You might have noticed that in my list of potential mail clients, I didn’t include Exchange Client. Exchange Client will work with Exchange 2000, but Microsoft doesn’t really support it. In fact, Microsoft is in the process of phasing out Exchange Client in favor of Outlook. The basic idea here is that if you upgrade an existing Exchange Server to Exchange 2000, then any clients who are running Exchange Client will be able to access the new version of Exchange through their existing client software. However, if you’re installing a brand new Exchange organization, then you’re much better off using Outlook.

The Verdict
So which client should you use? Like I said in the beginning, your choice will depend on your budget, system resources, and operating system. When possible, I recommend using Outlook for Windows and Macintosh clients and Outlook Web access for clients with other operating systems or lower end hardware.
Rajeev Mahura
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