A frequent topic of discussion with customers is the future of Public Folders, thus I think it would be good to capture that discussion on our blog.
Architecturally, Public Folders are a special mailbox, like all other mailboxes having a single top level folder hierarchy, but unlike all other mailboxes, Public Folders are stored in a dedicated database whose content can be replicated between servers. Administrators centrally manage this folder hierarchy, enabling end-users to create and modify folder content as they see fit.
Public Folders were introduced in the first version of Exchange as a solution for sharing, discussion list archives, and as a platform for custom applications.
All current versions of Outlook (from 97 through 2003) also use Public Folders for four very important functions:
1) Offline address book distribution
2) Free/busy lookups
3) Organizational form library
4) Outlook Security settings
With Exchange 2003 SP2, we invested in the manageability of Public Folders. A quick list of improved controls for administrators includes:
1) stop and resume content replication
2) apply delta changes recursively through a hierarchy
3) synchronize the hierarchy
4) ensure safe movement and/or removal of servers and stores
5) log public folder deletions
As mentioned in the summary, Outlook 2007 and E12 will include support for Public Folders. Of course, there are some details worth noting:
We are "de-emphasizing" Public Folders - which means that Public Folders may not be in our next major release after E12. That being said, let me re-affirm our commitment to fully support E12 Public Folders through at least 2016.
With this de-emphasis, we understand that some customers will be seeking prescriptive guidance on managing their Public Folder deployments. We will post more here soon. In the mean time, I recommend:
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