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Has anyone used MS Online Services - Exchange Online in production? I can't find any intelligent reviews about it.

MS is theoretically the best company to host their own software, but what about in practice?

My users primarily access their email through Outlook on their laptops, so I am not looking at Deskless Worker.

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5 Answers 5

My company migrated from our own internal exchange server to BPOS. We used a third party tool from http://bpos-experts.com for the switch...I too was a bit concerned about having things off-site, but management on an ongoing basis has been simple.

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Erica, if you're still out there, I'd like to find out how the last six months of BPOS have been. Email me at jesse at magazineradar dotcom. Thanks! –  Jesse Jan 25 '11 at 15:14

If you are a small company ( <50 employees ) it will probably work fine. In a bigger company (we have thousands of employees) it has proven to be very unreliable. It has a limited amount of admin accounts. The services go down regularly. The requirement for running a ridiculous applet (slow and memory consuming) to run Outlook is a turn off. For a bigger company it is more cost effective (and reliable) to run your own in house Exchange server.

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I would edit your last sentence to say 'for a bigger company it may be more cost effective (and reliable) to run your own in house Exchange server'. There are a lot of options in the hosted Exchange space and some of them are geared toward larger enterprises and being used with a lot of success. –  icky3000 May 10 '11 at 19:31

There is this blog entry: "Microsoft Online Services: Very Cool (and Cheap!)" from John Robbins of Wintellect.

(NB. I post this purely as a reader of the blog, not as a user of the services.)

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I've used both Google for Domains and Exchange Online. Google for Domains does everything I want - mail, calendars, and access from anywhere. Exchange Online works best for Windows users who are familiar with Outlook and don't want to change.

My current company is using a hybrid system, by accident. We started with Google for Domains, and then added Exchange Online. My primary system is Linux, so none of the Windows tools work for me. The other developers use OS X, which has similar issues. So, I continue to use my Google for Domains account, pulling email out of the Exchange Online account with POP, and sending over SMTP. These are off by default - the admin needs to open a ticket to request these services for each account, and it takes less than an hour. You'll have to do something similar for Blackberrys and other phones.

My biggest issue is that the SMTP interface is sometimes unreliable, possibly due to load, so the mail client needs to be able to retry sending emails. The POP interface may have similar reliability issues. Occasionally, the delay can be hours.

If we didn't already have a Google for Domains account, then I'd link my Exchange Online to my personal GMail account. It is almost perfect - Microsoft for the execs, Google for the developers. If only there was better calendar syncing - I usually have to enter events twice for everyone to see them.

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Currently switching to Enterprise Google Apps because we loved Exchange so much. In my organization we are less worried about where the email is than that the email is available. I will say my users needs fit the GApps collection more closely than MS. I can tell you 25GB of email, Calendaring, and Online docs. The TCO for GApps is easily 80% that of the MS solution. But it came down to best tool for the job.

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