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September 20, 2004

Technology in the Service of Mankind

There is some cool technology floating around Microsoft since I left in 2000.

For one thing, Outlook and Exchange combine to produce "Cached Exchange Mode" (this may work with other email programs and mail servers, I don't know). In this mode, all your mail is stored on a central email server, and your client view is just a cache of that. So you can run Outlook on several machines (such as a main development machine and a laptop) and they both get a view of the same mailbox. When you modify your local mailbox (send email, delete it, move it between folders) from one of the machines, the changes are reflected on the other machine also (if there's a conflict -- for example you delete a message on one client and move it to a folder on another -- it gets flagged as such).

Then, you have RPC-over-HTTP. Outlook uses RPC to communicate with Exchange, and RPC-over-HTTP will run RPC (securely) over any HTTP connection. This means you can connect your Outlook client to the Exchange server from any public Internet tap.

On top of that, you have "universal messaging". This means that all your voicemail becomes email messages to you, with the message as an attachment (actually universal messaging works the other way also -- you can call in and it will read the messages in your Inbox to you, except the synthesized voice sounds like the Swedish Chef from the Muppet Show, so it's like "There is a meeting bork bork bork at 2 pm bork bork bork to discuss the schedule bork bork bork"). This works so well that I realized the other day I had forgotten my voicemail password because I never used it.

Plus I (and many people) have a Tablet PC with a built-in wireless card, which works great with the wireless network at Microsoft. But even better, thanks to all this technology goop, I can be sitting in Starbucks with my laptop, connected to their wireless network, running Outlook in cached Exchange mode, connecting over RPC-over-HTTP, listening to my voicemail.

And my point is...there's no point! It's just cool!!

Posted by AdamBa at September 20, 2004 09:48 PM

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