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Outlook client out-muscles Outlook Web Access

The Outlook client is more capable compared to Outlook Web Access. This tip tells you why and how you can encourage users to work with the Outlook client.

The common adage, "what you don't know can't hurt you," isn't necessarily true for your users when it comes to Outlook Web Access (OWA).

Although I would revise the adage to, "what you don't know about Outlook Web Access can't help you." This is the case if you have some of your internal users, those on the inside of your corporate firewall, who are using OWA for their access to the Exchange server.

Some users simply prefer to have a browser open on their desktop to access their e-mail; they think that it's easier to deal with a browser window than it is to deal with the full Outlook client.

The truth is that the Outlook client can do quite a bit more than Outlook Web Access. Microsoft publishes a table that compares the capabilities of the two, and it's clear that there are many features that you might not want your users to do without, or that your users might really want if they knew they existed. For many, just the spell checker for the Outlook client might be enough to swing the deal.

The availability of more capabilities (recalling messages, for example, or sending messages from the address book) might mean that you have fewer help-desk calls than you would if you were letting users employ OWA from inside your corporate network. And if you want to use Kerberos authentication and certificate management in your e-mail setup, you'll need to have your users working with the Outlook client, not OWA.

You can force this behavior if you want, and it's pretty easy to do. On the Exchange server, go to Users and Computers and open the Properties tab of the user in question. Then clear the settings for HTTP and NNTP on the Exchange features tab. Now OWA will be disabled for those users, and everyone will happily be using the Outlook client.

Microsoft's Exchange 2003 Client Access Guide offers more information about allowing and stopping access to the Exchange server.


David Gabel has been testing and writing about computers for more than 25 years.

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