When Microsoft created Exchange Server 2007, it gave Outlook Web Access (OWA) a much-needed overhaul — becoming a lot more like Outlook — and even added some modest management utilities. In Exchange 2010, Microsoft has once again made a lot of changes to OWA, greatly extending the management functionality with the addition of the Exchange Control Panel (ECP).
Before I get into more detail with ECP, I want to point out that there are other changes in Exchange 2010 OWA, starting with its name. Even though OWA has stood for Outlook Web Access for as long as I can remember, the folks in Redmond decided to rename OWA to Outlook WebApp. Generally speaking, though, users who are used to OWA 2007 won’t have too much trouble finding their way around OWA 2010. Looking at Figure A, you can see that OWA 2010 looks very similar to OWA 2007.
This is what the Outlook WebApp looks like.
The most significant change that Microsoft has made to OWA doesn’t appear in the figure above though. If you look at it, you will notice an Options link, just to the left of the search box. While this link did exist in OWA 2007, its functionality has been greatly extended in OWA 2010. The Options link takes you to the ECP.
Figure B shows you the view when you click on the Options link. As you can see, the entire interface changes. Incidentally, if you need to get back to your Inbox, you can do so by clicking on the My Mail link that now replaces the Options link.
This is what you will see when you click on the Options link.
Another thing that I want to point out about this screen is the drop-down list in the upper-left corner of the screen. You will notice that this drop-down list is presently set to Myself. You have three options: Myself, My Organization, and Another User.
The Myself area of the ECP is designed to act as a self-service portal for users. Assuming that they have the proper permissions, users can use the ECP to keep their contact information up to date, as shown in the figure above. Users also have the ability to change their password, enable the Out of Office feature, or even modify Inbox rules through this interface. Like OWA 2007, users can also use this area to manage some general OWA settings.
Selecting the My Organization option reveals the true power of ECP. Figure C illustrates how ECP allows you to manage things like mailboxes, groups, and even user and administrative roles through the OWA interface. While there doesn’t seem to be a mechanism in place that would allow you to create a mailbox through the ECP, you can view and edit many of the mailbox attributes.
The Exchange Control Panel allows you to manage mailboxes, groups, and even administrative and user roles.
You will also notice that the tree on the left in Figure C contains a Reporting option. Clicking on this option takes you to a screen that allows you to perform message tracking. This is my favorite of the new OWA / ECP features. You can see what the reporting and message tracking options look like in Figure D.
You can now perform message tracking through OWA’s ECP.
The Another User option is similar to the Myself option. This feature allows you to perform the same basic operations on another user’s account that you can perform on your own account by using the Myself option.
As you can see, the Exchange Control Panel should make managing Exchange remotely a lot easier. In case you are wondering, though, the various administrative functions are displayed only to users who have the proper permissions.