Outlook Web App
Screenshot of Outlook inbox within Office 365, with open message view.
|Type||Webmail, calendaring software|
|License||Part of Exchange Server or Office 365; terms tallies|
Outlook Web App (OWA), originally named Exchange Web Connect and then Outlook Web Access, is a webmail component of Microsoft Exchange Server starting with version 5.0. It is also a part of the Office 365. The Office 365 offering has since been updated to Outlook on the web, with the Exchange 2016 update and a future update to Exchange Server coming in September 2015.
Microsoft provides Outlook Web App as part of Exchange Server to allow users to connect to their email accounts via a web browser, without requiring the installation of Microsoft Outlook. It is hosted on a local intranet and requires a network connection to the Exchange Server for users to work with e-mail, address book, calendars and task.
Subscribers of Office 365 may receive an email subscription from Microsoft. As such, they use Outlook Web App to access the email over the Internet, via portal.office.com.
OWA supports S/MIME and includes features for managing calendars, contacts, tasks, documents (used with SharePoint or in 2010, Office Web Apps), and other mailbox content. In the Exchange 2007 release, OWA also offers read-only access to documents stored in SharePoint sites and network UNC shares.
Outlook Web App has had two interfaces available since its release with Exchange 2000: one with a complete feature set (known as Premium) and one with reduced functionality (known as Light or sometimes Lite). Prior to Exchange 2010, the Premium client required Internet Explorer. Exchange 2000 and 2003 require Internet Explorer 5 and later, and Exchange 2007 requires Internet Explorer 6 and later. Exchange 2010 requires Internet Explorer 7 or later, Mozilla Firefox 3.01 or later, Google Chrome, or Apple Safari 3.1 or later for full functionality.
In all versions of Exchange prior to 2010, the Light user interface is rendered for browsers other than Internet Explorer. The basic interface did not support search on Exchange Server 2003. The Light interface was then reworked for Exchange Server 2007; OWA Light then supported searching mail items, and managing contacts and the calendar was also improved. Using Outlook Web Access 2010, a user can connect to an external email account.
Exchange 2010 checked the users operating system and required Mac OS X and Linux users to use Firefox or Safari, making Google Chrome only officially compatible with OWA when run on the Windows operating system. Exchange 2013 included Google Chrome and Linux support and the browser restrictions are no longer an issue.
Outlook Web App competes against hosted options provided by other companies such as Google Apps or Yahoo!'s Business Mail option, and locally installed alternatives to Exchange server such as Zimbra, Kolab, Zarafa, or Scalix.
Outlook Web Access was created in 1995 by Microsoft Program Manager Thom McCann on the Exchange Server team. An early working version was demonstrated by Microsoft Vice President Paul Maritz at Microsoft's famous Internet summit in Seattle on December 27, 1995. The first customer version was shipped as part of the Exchange Server 5.0 release in early 1997.
The first component to allow client-side scripts to issue HTTP requests (XMLHTTP) was originally written by the Outlook Web Access team. It soon became a part of Internet Explorer 5.0. Renamed XMLHttpRequest and standardized by the World Wide Web Consortium, it has since become one of the cornerstones of the Ajax technology used to build advanced web applications.
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