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Farewell MS Exchange, Hello Linux Open-Xchange - page 2

The User Oxperience

  • February 18, 2011
  • By Joe Brockmeier

The Web interface is not too bad. It's not as slick as Gmail, and if I had to choose a Webmail client to use only for mail I'd stick with Gmail hands down. But OX does have its advantages. For example, unlike Gmail, I can sort by subject, sender, etc. Some people like the search-driven Gmail interface, others not so much. I wish Google let users have the option. In a business setting, OX may be a better Webmail interface. The search seems a bit faulty, though. Searching for terms that were visible in the subjects in the inbox turned up no results.

But OX is more than just email. It also has calendaring, task management, "infostores," contacts, etc. When it comes to calendaring, I like OX's free/busy setup. Naturally, this is of little use to my one-person business, but it's a nice feature even for small businesses if you need to plan meetings or just see when other folks in the company are available or not for projects. It has a team view that's really nice if there's more than one person on your team.

The task management features are really nice, if you're an obsessive task management junkie. The only downside to the calendar and task features in OX is that there's no good option (at least that I can find) for quickly entering tasks and calendar entries. In Gmail (and a lot of desktop clients) it's as simple as a one-liner, and then you can fill out details later. OX is hefty on details.

If you have an Exchange-friendly mobile device, you can set it up to work with OX. The supported devices list, at least through 1and1, is a bit hit and miss. No Android devices are listed, but they do support Windows Mobile 6.x, Nokia Symbian, and iOS. I didn't have any problems with iOS setup, and I expect that if you have an Exchange friendly client on Android or another OS than it would work. What if you're looking to get rid of (or stave off) Microsoft Exchange but your users are going to stick with Outlook? In that case you have to add a connector in the mix, but you should be able to give your users pretty much the same experience with OX as they get with Exchange. So this is something to think about if Windows is the standard desktop in your business.

Finally, a bit about the documentation. The docs provided here are pretty good, but more of a reference than a guide. To put it another way--your users are probably going to stumble on features rather than get a good idea how they should be using OX to its fullest. What might be a good in future versions is to have a "here's how to get the most out of collaboration in OX," guide.

Summary

Examining OX on its own, I'd say its a decent suite of tools. I don't think it's quite as slick as Gmail if you're going to be using a Webmail client extensively--but it's heads and shoulders above Microsoft Exchange's Webmail. I won't say that it's the best set of tools that I've used, but it's a suitable Exchange replacement.

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