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Microsoft Outlook without Exchange Server -- an option for small businesses

Using Microsoft Outlook with a POP3/SMTP Internet Service Provider (ISP) service is a cost-effective approach for small shops, but you do sacrifice helpful Exchange Server features like shared mail folders, contacts and calendars. Learn how you can still get those features without having to deploy Exchange or Small Business Server.

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Many small-office environments, with only a few users, don't require the robustness of Exchange Server to handle e-mail. These companies usually feature desktop installations of Microsoft Outlook, with POP3/SMTP e-mail handled by a third party (usually their Internet Service Providers).

However, users in such an environment typically sacrifice helpful features that Exchange Server can provide, such as shared mail folders, contacts and calendars. One possible option is Small Business Server 2003, which includes Exchange Server Standard Edition, but even that might be overkill for really small shops.

A more cost-effective solution might be MAPILab Groupware Server, which provides Microsoft Outlook users with access to shared resources without the expense or complexity of a full Exchange Server deployment.

MAPILab Groupware Server does not require Exchange Server or any other third-party product (except for Outlook 2000 or higher), nor does it require a server-level operating system; Windows 2000, Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 all suffice.

When installed, MAPILab Groupware Server gives Microsoft Outlook clients access to public mail, contact, task and notes folders, as well as shared calendars and journals. All of these features appear in Microsoft Outlook without modification to the client.

One or more users can be delegated as administrators; admins can delegate permissions, manage users and groups, and edit other settings via a small standalone application.

Bear in mind that MAPILab Groupware Server is not a substitute for Exchange Server. It doesn't manage e-mail from a central location. And, since it requires no server-level version of Windows, it does not integrate with Active Directory.

If you're curious about whether or not it will suit your small-business needs, a 30-day full-featured trial version can be downloaded from the MAPILab Web site.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter.

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