Switching to Outlook Web Access

By Deane Barker on January 6, 2006

I’m a nomad these days — I split my time between two offices, one with a Windows domain, and one without. Because of this, I’ve decided to remove my computer from the domain to which it was attached. I still have my domain user account to access resources, but my laptop is now just a standalone XP Pro machine.

Managing Outlook became a problem. Outlook 2003 was not at all pleased with the concept of authenticating to the Exchange server without being attached to a domain and having an authenticated user logged in.

My solution: abandon the thick client completely and switch to Outlook Web Access (OWA), running in Internet Explorer. In building this, of course, Microsoft had the luxury of only supporting one platform (IE, though it runs “ugly” on others), and being able to using all sorts of integrated Windows doohickeys up the wazoo to create a browser-based experience as close the thick client as possible.

The result is that I’m just as happy as I was before (or, no more unhappy than I was, depending on how you look at it). OWA is extremely well-done, and if you try it for a week you realize how little use you have for the actual, installed Outlook client. (Of course, I lost plugins and add-ons, but that was okay because I didn’t use much of anything.)

In larger sense, this just points to the “application drift” from thick to thin client. I keep hearing that Yahoo! has a mail beta that’s just as good as any thick client. OWA has proven to me that that is entirely possible.

What This Links To


  1. Outlook 2003 supports Exchange over HTTP. You have to have an IIS6 Server with some extra components enabled (RPC over HTTP) but it has worked great for me.

    Setup can be a hassle for some people if they are using self-generated SSL certs. Just remember to install the cert on your local computer to enable the cert to be trusted if you don’t shell out on VeriSign or another trusted cert type.

  2. I see Brian already mentioend what I was going to – go with RPC over HTTP and you will have full Outlook without need for VPN.

  3. That all sounds very cool, but as I said in the article, the functionality of OWA removes any need or desire for the thick client. I’m glad it can be done, but OWA is just as good.

  4. It looks like an explosion came from underneath. The mounting hole near the socket had sparks coming out from it. Besides, on the CPU-Z screen there wasn’t an close window “x” or anything else on the top right corner. http://www.doudounehiver.com

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