Exchange Online definition

Contributor(s): Matt Gervais

Exchange Online is the hosted version of Microsoft's messaging platform, Exchange Server.

Introduced as part of the Exchange Server 2010 release, Exchange Online gives companies a majority of the same benefits that on-premises Exchange deployments provide. By integrating with the Microsoft Outlook client, companies that use Exchange Online can make use of hosted email, calendars and contacts, at a cost of  $5 (USD) per month, per end user. Microsoft Exchange Online is available as a standalone solution or as part of the Microsoft Office 365 collaboration suite

According to Microsoft, Exchange Online will provide customers with the following:

  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2007 connectivity with Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Chrome browsers.
  • Mobile access with push email, calendar and contacts through Exchange ActiveSync
  • Compatibility with Microsoft Windows Phone, Apple iPhone and iPad, and many Nokia and Android phones
  • Mobile device security policies, including PIN lock and "remove device" wipe
  • 25 gigabyte (GB) mailboxes and the ability to send messages up to 25 megabytes (MB)
  • Ability to share free/busy calendar data with other organizations using Exchange Online
  • Company directory, distribution groups and shared contacts
  • Hosted voicemail compatible with on-premises PBX phone systems and Lync Server 2010
  • Voicemail preview, call answering rules and company auto-attendant
  • 99.9% uptime commitment with financially backed service level agreement (SLA)
  • Continuous data backup between globally-redundant data centers
  • Deleted item retention and deleted mailbox recovery
  • Virus/spam filtering with Microsoft Forefront Online Security for Exchange
  • Continuous intrusion monitoring and detection
  • HTTPS connections
  • Built-in email archiving with the ability to search multiple user mailboxes at once
  • Policies to automatically expire email data or preserve it for compliance purposes
  • Flexible transport rules for applying disclaimers and other policies to email in transit
  • Free tools for migrating IMAP and Exchange Server mailbox data to Exchange Online
  • The ability to combine Exchange Server mailboxes and Exchange Online mailboxes in a hybrid environment
  • The ability to synchronize on-premises Active Directory with Microsoft Online Services
  • 24/7 support by phone or on the web
  • Centralized, Web-based access for configuration and administration of Exchange Online services
  • Remote PowerShell connections for advanced configuration and automation
  • Role-based access control (RBAC) for controlling administrator permissions


This was first published in October 2012

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