It doesn’t feel like long ago that I was sat in my summer clothes telling you all about R3 of Outlook Live – and yet here we are, 6 months later, pretending not to eat too many mince pies and talking about Outlook Live R4.
You won’t see a huge user experience change from R3 to R4, but there are a lot of new features and more enhanced admin tools for you to explore. Here’s a selection of some of the finer stocking-fillers that are new in Release 4:
Tasks – now in your browser
One of the biggest piece of UX feedback we got in R3 was that tasks weren’t available in the Outlook Live web interface.
We’ve brought them back into the fold for Release 4 – you once again have full task functionality through the browser, Outlook client, and anywhere you connect using Exchange ActiveSync.
Working better on even more platforms
Release 3 introduced our solid cross-platform story, supporting Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari on both Windows and Mac OS X.
In Release 4 we take that story one step further, introducing full user experience support for Firefox running on Linux based operating systems. This cross-browser, cross-platform compatibility means we cover almost all education usage scenarios – Live@edu works for your institution, whatever setup you have.
IMAP Migration Tools
Some of the most common conversations we have with customer are around migrating existing mail from legacy systems. We’ve always had POP migration, but with the new IMAP mail migration tools you can keep an entire mailbox’s folder structure completely intact. The tool works on a bulk administrator level (e.g. you can migrate your entire institution) or on an end user level (much the same way as POP subscriptions worked previously).
One of the biggest additions to the administrative side of the service in R4 - with Transport Rules, administrators and compliance officers can establish and enforce enterprise, governmental and legal requirements on internal or outbound e-mail, through a flexible e-mail flow control and policy engine. For example, rules can be written that make a copy of messages to another mailbox or SMTP address, append a disclaimer to any message being sent externally, or prohibit students from sending e-mail with social security numbers within. As with most of the Outlook Live service, you can administer Transport Rules in the way that makes most sense to you – using PowerShell, or using the intuitive user interface within the Exchange Control Panel.
Enhancements, Enhancements, Enhancements
Release 4 isn’t just new features and new tools – we’ve enhanced a lot of the existing administration tools to make them more powerful and more easy to use. The cross-mailbox search functionality has been improved – making it even easier to be standards compliant. RBAC (Role based access control) functionality has been improved, helping you share the administrative workload to helpdesks and site-based admin teams throughout your institution(s), and have made access to the service through PowerShell even easier, too.
What do I need to do?
The upgrade process has already started – and by now, all of your administrator accounts should have been upgraded to R4. The easiest way to tell is by signing into your administrator mail account and looking at your branding. If you’re using ‘Outlook Web App’ then you’re on R4 (see image to the right), but if you’re on Outlook Live Beta, you’re on R3. User accounts will be upgraded systematically between now and the end of January.
As an administrator, there are a couple of things you need to think about. Firstly, you can now use the full RTM release of PowerShell 2.0 to connect to the service. This is great news for everyone, as we’re now on the full release of PowerShell that ships with Windows 7, and is compatible with XP, Vista, Server 2003 and above.
If you’re using ILM and GalSync/ELMA, you have until March 2010 to upgrade to the latest management agent. Don’t worry though – we’ll give you more details very shortly, and will have some great upgrade paths in place for you.
Last but not least…
We’ve built a lot of your feedback into Release 4 of Outlook Live – we want to make a product that does what you want and need it to do! Keep telling us what you think of the product and where you’d like it to go by joining in the conversation at www.outlookliveanswers.com, and keep checking the UK blog for more information!