As businesses and consumers alike start to think about upgrading to Windows 8 and Office 13, Microsoft is talking up Exchange 13 and the Outlook 13 client, pointing to new features which include greater security, a better "social networking experience," and a touch user interface (UI).
A new Touch Mode in Outlook 13 allows thumbs-friendly "Quick Actions" from mobile devices, noted Ankur Kothari, a senior product manager at Microsoft, during a conference call. Outlook's "new look" also includes one-touch access to a minimized ribbon, a new online reply feature, and new "Quick Peeks" for accessing your calendar, tasks, and "people" contacts while still in your mailbox.
Kothari also said that Microsoft will use its Yammer acquisition for heightened social networking experiences. In the current preview edition of Outlook 13, you can already connect to social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn without the need to install an add-on. You can also pull up to five news and/or weather feeds directly into Outlook 13.
If you're using Outlook 13 in an Exchange 13 business environment, you'll be able to access both e-mail and Microsoft SharePoint documents from a single folder in Outlook, Kothari said in the briefing.
New Anti-Spam Protections Include E-Mail Screening by Country
Meanwhile, Microsoft will roll out new anti-spam technologies through an Exchange service update to be called "Exchange Online Protection," which will expand on the "Forefront Online Protection for Exchange" feature included in the current edition of Microsoft's Office 365-based office suite.
The enhancements will include improvements to identify spam attacks immediately, at the "zero-day level," along with "top-ranked spam filtering" and technologies for improved recognition of new spam footprints, or patterns.
In addition, corporate IT (information technology) administrators will now be able to use Exchange to screen out e-mails and/or attachments on the basis of human languages and the countries where the e-mails originated.
Also on the Exchange 13 side, Microsoft is now extending "role-based access controls," a capability first included in Exchange 10, through a new administrative management portal.
This will make it easier for IT administrators to give greater permissions to some business employees and fewer permissions to others, Kothari suggested.
For the sake of regulatory compliance as well as security, Exchange 13 will also take new approaches to issues around DLP (data loss protection) and "e-discovery," or the discovery of electronic information as legal evidence.
Administrators Can Warn 'Non-Compliant' Workers
To help keep information from leaking out from organizations, IT administrators will be be able to deliver "policy tips" that will warn employees when their e-mail practices have violated company policies, whether accidentally or not.
"Policy details" can now be "transparently displayed to end users," according to Kothari.
IT folks will also be able to prevent certain types of information, such as credit card numbers, from being sent out over Exchange.
Alternatively, instead of blocking e-mails, administrators will be able to simply keep track of messages which don't comply with company e-mail policies.
Free downloads of the preview editions of Outlook 13 and Exchange Server 2013 are available on Microsoft's Web site. The Exchange preview is included in the preview of Office 365 Enterprise.
Microsoft is expected to drill down more deeply on the details of Exchange 13 at the Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC) in Orlando, FL this week.