As OnePlaceMail 6.4 Preview hits the streets I wanted to speak about why we believe 6.4 is such a pivotal release. Last year in the lead up to the release of Exchange 2013, Office 2013 and SharePoint 2013 we immersed ourselves in the new technologies and the features, functions, and integration points that they brought to the table. We didn’t just want to deliver a OnePlaceMail release that worked the way it always had and ignored the architectural changes that had been made in the 2013 Microsoft stack. So we invested the time, we put down the tools, and really took a step back to look at the new options; How could this benefit the way people are working today and tomorrow? What new business cases could be solved? How could this technology be best applied to solve the issues we are currently solving with OnePlaceMail today? This really forced us to re-evaluate the position that OnePlaceMail has under the new technologies (Outlook 2013, SharePoint 2013, Exchange 2013).
One of the most interesting new features of Outlook 2013/SharePoint 2013 was the concept of SharePoint Site Mailboxes. Microsoft has taken a great step forward (finally) with Site Mailboxes in an attempt to address the integration problem that has always existed between Outlook and SharePoint. Please see this blog post for more details on SharePoint 2013 Site Mailboxes.
After spending quite a bit of time with SharePoint Site Mailboxes we found they satisfied some use cases really well, and others not so well. While Site Mailboxes provided some great out-of-the-box benefits, there were always going to be some limitations as well. If you want to find out more about the benefits and limitations I suggest taking a look at the free whitepaper we published SharePoint 2013 Site Mailboxes – Overcome the limitations.
It came to decision time, and we had a couple of options:
· Option 1 – We could continue enhancing OnePlaceMail as an industry leading product directly integrating Outlook and SharePoint without any dependency on the new Site Mailbox framework. This broadly equated to ignoring Site Mailboxes due to their limitations and positioning OnePlaceMail as an alternate (competitive) solution – you would either use Site Mailboxes or you would use OnePlaceMail
· Option 2 – We could re-architect OnePlaceMail to use Site Mailboxes as a framework and build enhanced functionality on top to overcome the limitations
We concluded that there would be use cases where Site Mailboxes were the logical solution, and other use cases where Site Mailboxes would not work at all, so rather than committing to option 1 or option 2 we decided we needed to do both! We wanted to provide enterprises with a solution that would be consistent and work for them across all their business cases, both those using Site Mailboxes and those that don’t.
This strategic decision gave us focus for the OnePlaceMail 6.4 Preview release. We wanted to deliver the robust enterprise class OnePlaceMail with all its bells and whistles that you know and love, and if you happen to be using Site Mailboxes (now or in future) then we will ‘light up’ a whole set of Site Mailbox specific features and enhancements designed to overcome the limitations that exist with Site Mailboxes out of the box. Even more than that, we also wanted to deliver a seamless and consistent user experience, to the user it shouldn’t matter if they are dragging and dropping an email (or attachment) to a Site Mailbox or another SharePoint location via OnePlaceMail. The decision where and when to use Site Mailboxes will often be an architectural decision, but to the end user (through the Outlook interface) they really just want to capture, classify and access information in SharePoint and don’t care too much whether that is done via an enhanced Site Mailbox framework or OnePlaceMail without Site Mailboxes – we needed to deliver a user interface where both scenarios used the same metaphors, same workflow, same behaviors so that the user intuitively knows how to use it without need for training.
The results of all the hard work are ready for you now. The OnePlaceMail 6.4 Preview release is a free download which we made publically available last week.
There is also a series of short videos showing the new OnePlaceMail Site Mailbox features in action, so if you want to quickly check out what it looks like I’d suggest taking 5 minutes to go through these.