New Exchange Public Folders Support in Outlook Web Access (OWA)

I’ve just been reading Tony Redmond’s article on one of the new features introduced in Exchange 2013 CU1. The ‘new’ public folders are now available within Outlook Web Access (OWA).


Here’s Tony’s full article and is well worth a read – Interesting approach to public folder support in Outlook Web App 2013

My main take aways are:

  • New Exchange 2013 Public Folder’s are now accessible in OWA
  • Unlike previous Public Folder (in Outlook and OWA) you don’t get the full hierarchy. Rather the user selects which folders (from anywhere within the hierarchy) to add to there Favorites.

I like the approach to not showing the full public folder hierarchy in the Outlook navigation. It’s an area we spent a great deal of time researching a designing when developing OnePlaceMail and exposing SharePoint locations within Outlook. We made the decision not to show the full SharePoint hierarchy directly within the Outlook navigation. I agree with the approach for the following reasons:

  • The UI get’s unusable for large hierarchies
  • Public folders can only have one set structure, but that’s not necessarily how every user sees it and often it exposes a lot of ‘clutter’ that the user is not interested in. Having the user select their favorite locations removes the clutter.

I would like to see the favorites area enhanced so that the user can categorise (or add levels of categories) to their favorites. This way the user can organise and structure favorites in a way that makes sense to them. This gets away from the issue of the old Public Folders where everyone must see the hierarchy in the same way. Allowing users to make up their own hierarchy of favorites allows them to organise the world how they see it and how it makes sense to them. I find this freedom is what keeps users happy and productive. Users are familiar with this in Outlook… take your common mail folder structure (i.e. inbox and subfolders the user creates). This works because users create mail folders ad-hoc and how it makes sense to them and what they are working on day to day. Allow them to categorise and move around shared Public Folders in the same way and everyone is happy. It’s an approach we’ve been using in OnePlaceMail to allow users to organise their SharePoint locations in Outlook for years, and it works.


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