Enhancements in the Exchange 2010 Universal Inbox

Communications is arguably one of the most critical of enterprise functions. In the early days, this functionality amounted to little more than a most basic telephone system. But today’s enterprises must contend with an increasingly diverse set of communication options. Managing these disparate systems quickly began to frustrate end users and overwhelm IT departments in the process.

If you’re like me, you’ve spent countless hours imagining a time when all of your communications could be managed under one umbrella. In this latest iteration of Microsoft Exchange 2010, it seems that Microsoft has heard our pleas. They’ve responded by introducing what has been coined, the universal inbox.

Exchange 2010 Universal InboxProductivity, security and mobility – these are some of the terms that define end user needs.

With the release of Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, all communications — e-mail, voicemail, instant and text messaging can now be accessed under one tool, in both audio and text formats.

In addition, the universal inbox is accessible through Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. Smartphone access also means you don’t always need to power up your computer and browser, making real-time collaboration with colleagues and customers even easier.

For mobile employees, there is Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 and Outlook Web App. This combination brings your inbox right to the web browser.

For many enterprise employees, email volumes make managing the inbox a challenge. The conversation view is meant to help this process be more efficient. Also, instead of trying to decide on the best way to reach a contact, you’ll be able to determine other users’ presence and contact them accordingly. For example, if you notice a colleague available on instant messaging, you can choose to contact them that way instead of wasting time on an email.

And administrators will be happy to see the new MailTips feature. It will alert users about potential policy violations detected in an email message – before they hit the send button.

Exchange 2010 Universal Inbox

Exchange 2010 Universal Inbox

Mobility & Mobile Devices

The increasingly mobile workforce needs access to email on-the-go. Exchange ActiveSync and MS Exchange Server 2010 provides complete, real-time access to the inbox and supports hundreds of devices.

E-mail, contacts, and calendar are automatically synced to mobile devices over the air, so there will never be a concern about lost messages or multiple copies of messages on different devices.

Features include a handy speech-to-text voicemail preview, a conversation view, messaging flagging and more.

If you’d like to have more control over which devices access your network, the block/allow/quarantine lists functionality will do the job.

VoiceMail

Voicemail with unified messaging in Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 mean you no longer have to check multiple systems for voice and electronic messages. Voicemails now sit right alongside emails and other communications, right in the universal inbox. The speech-to-text previews will be popular for those who can’t necessarily return a call, but may still be able to act on a message.

Customization allows users to create multiple custom greetings and call transfer options. And archiving is no longer an issue, as retention policies can be established that match your internal security policy.

Backup and Archive

It used to take several applications to ensure email availability, archiving/backup and disaster recovery. Exchange 2010 introduced all of this functionality – integrated into one tool. What’s most important is that this process is seamless, your users won’t notice any significant impact.

But they will benefit from the personal archive feature that provides them access to all of their archived email.

Administrators will be able to use the included retention management functionality to automate the archiving and deletion processes. And for those that are responsible for policy compliance measurement, the new multi-mailbox search feature will make it easier to search across different message types.

Exchange 2010 Universal Inbox

Conclusion

I’ve seen quite a few software upgrades where the feature set was either sharply skewed in favor of the administrator or the end user. In this case, it seems that Exchange has something to make both sides happy. Ubiquitous, integrated access for end users and the management and compliance functions for admins.

Convinced? If you’re ready to give Exchange 2010 a try, check out the free trial.

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