Business users are increasingly on the move and many of them want to take their Exchange mailbox data with them. Exchange Server 2007 provides built in mobile access through Exchange ActiveSync. Users can synchronize their email messages, contacts, calendar, and task data directly to their Exchange ActiveSync-enabled mobile device. Users can even access some Unified Messaging data such as voice mail messages on their device by synchronizing the e-mail message with the voice mail file attached. Through the installation of a third party add-in, they may even be able to view the faxes directly on their mobile phone. With Direct Push, Exchange data is sent in near real time. A long-standing HTTPS request is maintained between the device and the Exchange Server. When new items arrive or items are changed in the Exchange mailbox, those changes are synchronized to the device.

Now that I've got your attention, you're probably wondering what sort of device you need in order to take advantage of all this functionality. That's exactly the topic we're going to cover in this post. There are many different types of mobile devices available today. It seems every few weeks there is a new device launched on one of the major wireless carriers. These devices come from a variety of manufacturers, run a variety of mobile operating systems, and are available in a variety of form factors. You can buy devices with full QWERTY keyboards, ones that play music, ones that have a built-in GPS, or ones that come in flashy colors. Some mobile devices have built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi functionality and can interact with the audio systems in some cars. Some function as laptop modems and still others as presentation devices with built-in infrared remote control capabilities. Some mobile devices are small clamshell form factors, while others are larger than a deck of playing cards with fold out screens large enough to watch videos and view pictures.

Ultimately, the device's operating system largely determines the features it supports. The device's original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and the device's carrier can also specify whether certain features are available, however all of the features we'll talk about in this post should be available regardless of which OEM or carrier you choose.

Exchange Server 2007's Mobile Features

First, let's examine some of the more popular mobile features for Exchange Server 2007:

Feature

Description

Direct Push

Compatible devices maintain a secure connection with the server, receiving any new or updated e-mail, calendar items, contacts, or tasks as soon as they arrive on the server.

Search

Searching from a compatible device can access the user's entire mailbox on the Exchange Server as well as the data stored locally on the device.

Message Flags

Users can flag messages for follow-up directly on the device. Only a single flag type is supported. The flag type defaults to the red Today flag.

HTML Messages

Compatible devices can display HTML formatted email messages with full formatting. Replying to an HTML formatted message will preserve the formatting for all users. Messages can also utilize left-right scrolling for display of formatted data.

Inline Message Fetch

Retrieving attachment data or downloading a large message happens immediately, without the user reloading the entire message or performing a full synchronization.

Information Rights Management

Users can view Information Rights Management (IRM) protected e-mail on their mobile devices. An IRM client is installed on compatible mobile devices to validate a user's credentials.

Out of Office Support

Users can set their Out of Office status as well as modify the Out of Office auto-reply message on compatible mobile devices.

Enhanced Calendaring

Users can access meeting attendee information as well as schedule or update meetings directly on their devices.

Self-Service Device Management

Users perform some device management tasks in Outlook Web Access including sending logging information to an Administrator, issuing a remote wipe command to clear the contents of their mobile devices, and resetting their device passwords.

Enhanced Device Security Management for Administrators

Administrators can set per user device policies to manage a variety of settings including: minimum password length, password strength, password history requirements, whether attachments can be downloaded to the device, how many incorrect passwords can be entered before a data wipe is initiated, and an inactivity timeout interval.

Windows SharePoint Services and Windows file share (UNC) document access

Users can access documents stored on internal Windows SharePoint Services sites and Windows file shares. Administrators can place specific sites on the allow or deny list.

For a full listing of the features available with Exchange ActiveSync, see the following topics.

Choosing a Device That's Right For You

There are a wide variety of devices that support Exchange ActiveSync. In order to determine which device is right for you, you will need to consider the following questions.

  • Device Input Methods: Some devices are equipped with a full QWERTY keyboard for easier input. Smaller devices require you to use the dial pad to enter all text.
  • Screen size: If you will be using your device to view pictures, documents, or videos, a larger screen size might be necessary.
  • Battery life: If you require extended battery life, consider a device with an additional battery.
  • Additional Features: You can choose from a wide variety of additional features including MP3 playback, Bluetooth, and WiFi capabilities.

Once you have identified the physical features that are important to you, it is time to choose a mobile device operating system. In addition to Windows Mobile powered devices, there are a variety of other operating systems available.

Non-Windows Mobile Powered Devices

I love my Windows Mobile 6.0 device. In fact, I rarely go anywhere without it. Just because I choose a Windows Mobile device, however, doesn't mean that it's the right device for everyone. There are many excellent devices available that do not run Windows Mobile. Many of these devices are compatible with Microsoft Exchange and some support Exchange ActiveSync. The following table lists a number of the different non-Windows Mobile devices and the features they support.

Device Manufacturer

Description

Supported Features

Nokia

Mail for Exchange is available on Nokia Eseries mobile devices.

Synchronization of e-mail, calendar, and contact data over a cellular network or a wireless LAN.

Sony Ericsson

Newer Smartphone devices support Exchange ActiveSync

Synchronization of e-mail, calendar, and contact data over a cellular network. Direct Push is supported through a third-party program.

Palm

The Treo 700 and Treo 750 run Windows Mobile software with support for Exchange ActiveSync and Direct Push. The Treo 650 and Treo 680 series devices support Exchange ActiveSync.

The Treo 700 and Treo 750 run Windows Mobile 5.0 with MSFP. See the next section for supported features. The Treo 650 and Treo 680 devices support e-mail, calendar, and contact synchronization over the cellular network.

Motorola

Licenses the Exchange ActiveSync protocol

Synchronization of e-mail, calendar, and contact data over the cellular network on a variety of devices.

Symbian

Licenses the Exchange ActiveSync protocol

Synchronization of e-mail, calendar, and contact data over the cellular network on a variety of devices.

For more information about these devices and the features they support, consult the device manufacturers and the device documentation.

Windows Mobile Powered Devices

If you choose a Windows Mobile powered device, you have several different versions to choose from. Windows Mobile 6.0 offers the richest experience, providing full support for all of the features I've talked about in this post. In addition to the Exchange ActiveSync features, you'll also be able to view Microsoft Office documents on your device. Windows Mobile 6.0 also includes certificate management making it easier to install a client certificate for authentication on your mobile device.

If you choose an older version of Windows Mobile, there is one important fact to consider. Windows Mobile 5.0 devices need the Messaging Security and Feature Pack (MSFP) in order to support Direct Push and Exchange ActiveSync mailbox policies. While the majority of Windows Mobile 5.0 devices now come with MSFP pre-installed, check your device documentation to confirm this. In addition to supporting Direct Push and Exchange ActiveSync mailbox policies, the MSFP also provides support for remote device wipe, task synchronization, and global address book lookup. The following table lists the features supported by different versions of Windows Mobile.

Feature

Windows Mobile 6.0

Windows Mobile 5.0 with MSFP

Older Windows Mobile powered devices

Direct Push

Yes

Yes

No

Email, Calendar, and Contact Synchronization

Yes

Yes

Yes

Task Synchronization

Yes

Yes

No

HTML Email Support

Yes

No

No

Message Flags

Yes

No

No

Meeting Attendee Information

Yes

No

No

Out of Office Management

Yes

No

No

Exchange Search

Yes

No

No

Windows SharePoint Services and Windows file share (UNC) document access

Yes

No

No

Inline Message Fetch

Yes

No

No

Exchange ActiveSync Policy Support

Yes

Yes

No

Remote Device Wipe

Yes

Yes

No

SSL Encryption

Yes

Yes

Yes

Device Certificate for Authentication Management

Yes

No

No

I hope this post has helped you choose the right mobile device for you and for your organization. For more information about Exchange 2007 and mobile devices, see the following links.

 

- Patricia DiGiacomo