Office 365 kiosk users get optional unlimited email, other upgrades

Upgrade solves issues with mobile email.

Correction: This article earlier stated that Microsoft had given Kiosk users unlimited email storage. Microsoft now lets Kiosk users purchase unlimited email storage.

An internal announcement by Microsoft yesterday has added optional unlimited email storage and other improvements to its low-cost, limited version of Office 365 called Exchange Online Kiosk.

While the Kiosk licence was always intended to be more limited than the full Office 365 licence, it had several drawbacks. The only ways Exchange Online Kiosk users could access email had been either through the Outlook Web App (aka OWA or “webmail”) or by using the POP3 protocol using Outlook or other mail readers.

With this latter method, emails were downloaded and removed from the server. While this was generally fine it started to fall down with mobile access.

A field or factory worker (who generally use Kiosk licences) can read emails via webmail, however if they wanted email on their mobiles it would download and remove messages from the server. This meant when the same worker went back in to their webmail the emails would no longer be there. A similar issue would occur if they sent an email from their mobile device – it would not appear in their webmail Sent Items folder.

Kiosk mailboxes have a storage limitation of 500MB. For light email users this is generally sufficient. They are also not able to archive any email as the Exchange Online Archive licence could not be added due to a licensing restriction.

 

The improvements

The first and simplest is that the 500MB mailbox limitation has now been increased to 1GB. Microsoft said this was because it could pass on savings in storage costs to customers. Secondly, Kiosk users now also have Exchange Online Archiving on their mailboxes. Functions such as legal hold and unlimited storage is now a possibility for light mailbox users.

The big one is the ability for Kiosk users to access their mailbox from mobile devices using the ActiveSync protocol – the same way Office 365 users access their full Exchange Online accounts, whether on Windows Phone, iPhone, Android and other platforms.

Now field workers can access their mail from mobile devices and web browsers and experience the same content regardless of access method. Coupled together with the ability to enable legal hold for compliance purposes and unlimited storage (through the purchase of the Exchange Online Archive subscription) these users can now be completely mobile and completely compliant.

NOTE: At this point slate devices such as iPad and Android tablets are not supported as the focus will be on core mobile scenarios.

The changes will be rolled out throughout globally around March 2012.

Loryan Strant is a Microsoft Office 365 MVP (Most Valuable Professional). Follow him on Twitter @TheCloudMouth.

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