Can OWA Replace Outlook?

By Nuno Mota, [Published on 28 March 2013]

With Exchange 2010, Microsoft greatly improved OWA, making it closer than ever to the full Outlook client in terms of features and usability. But it still had some functionalities missing when compared to Outlook, like offline access or some calendar functions. With Exchange 2013, OWA is once more redesigned and enhanced even further. I believe it is now time for companies to pay the deserved attention to OWA. With every new version of OWA, administrators ask themselves: will our users now prefer OWA over Outlook?

There are two clear killer features for me: offline mode and the streamlined UI across multiple devices. The first one brings OWA closer to Outlook than ever, so close I recon it will make some users starting to use OWA more and more.

Another factor is, as always, cost. Is it possible to save money by providing only OWA to users? Although with the new Office 2013 subscription model the cost of Outlook might not be an issue, the time and money it costs IT staff to troubleshoot Outlook problems is a big issue. Also, let's not forget the headache it is to coordinate and execute desktop and office upgrades.

For companies still on Office 2003, this is a great opportunity to seriously consider OWA as the only e-mail client for their users since this version of Office is not compatible with Exchange 2013. Changing e-mail clients is always a big thing for users and something that should never be done without proper planning and consideration. But if an upgrade is to happen, moving from Outlook 2003 to OWA will also allow transitioning to Exchange 2013 without having to worry about upgrading the e-mail client (just removing Outlook).

So what is the future of Outlook? I really like Outlook, specially the 2013 version. I love it! Some people say it is stagnant and that desktop e-mail clients are dead. I think in the future Outlook will start to fade, but not just yet. Although the new OWA is great, it still has to improve a bit if it wants to replace good old Outlook.

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