If you’ve been working with Exchange for several years, you might remember a little thing from Exchange 2003 called Outlook Mobile Access. This HTML only version of browser-based access to your Exchange mailbox was developed at a time when smart phones were mostly a dream, but web browser capable phones, Palm Pilots, and Windows CE devices ruled the portable space. In a world where bell bottoms are once again popular, it should come as little surprise that OMA is back, this time courtesy of Service Pack 2 for Exchange 2010.
The Exchange Team at Microsoft decided to bring back the mini version of Outlook Web Access because apparently there is still a large demand for mobile access to Exchange email in parts of the world where web capable, but not fully “smart” phones, are still in use. These devices have less horsepower, fewer features, and only a basic HTML web browser, but cost less and require less bandwidth as well, making them perfect for area with less infrastructure, and very popular amongst prepaid plan customers.
What is OMA?
Outlook Mobile Access (OMA), or more accurately in Exchange 2010 Outlook Web Access Mini (OWA Mini), is built on a series of forms and requires only HTML and cookie support in the mobile browser. To provide maximum compatibility, it is based on HTML 2.0.
What do you get in OWA Mini?
OWA Mini includes the following features:
- Mailbox access, including all subfolders
- Calendar access
- Contact list access
- Task list access
- GAL access
- Meeting request processing
How do users access it?
There is no client detection for OWA Mini. In fact, it is just a vdir called \OMA under the \OWA virtual directory. Unless you provide users a better way to get there, they will have to enter the full URL https://mail.example.com/owa/oma, which is pretty lame, so do your users a favour and create a mobile friendly URL that will redirect them to the OWA Mini path. Try http://m.example.com and have that do a 301 or use a refresh tag to direct mobile users to the full HTTPS path.
Other things to know
OWA Mini may have limited use for a company that has Windows Mobile, Droids, Blackberries, and iPhones, but if your users are global, or just prefer less expensive web phones, OWA Mini is a great way to provide them access to their email while on the go.