What is Outlook Anywhere?

Microsoft Exchange Server was originally designed to manage email for a company's internal workforce. Those users were authenticated against the company's domain, with remote users dialing in via modem, or connecting across a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and logging in to the company domain in the same way. As broadband technology became more widespread, Microsoft first offered RPC over HTTP, and then Outlook Anywhere, as a feature of Microsoft Exchange Server. That did away with the need for remote users to be logged in to the company domain to access exchange.

Outlook Anywhere makes a connection to the hosted exchange server using the HTTP protocol, the same protocol used by a web browser, but secured using Secured Sockets Layer (SSL). This is entirely transparent to the user. Once a Microsoft Outlook profile has been set up to access a hosted exchange server using Outlook Anywhere, it will automatically be used whenever the user connects. In effect, Microsoft Exchange Server is working in a similar fashion to any IMAP/POP and SMTP server pair, with no requirement for domain authentication.

Where Outlook Anywhere becomes most useful, is when users are connecting across an internet connection that blocks traditional mail protocol ports . Because Outlook Anywhere uses the HTTP protocol to make the connection to the hosted exchange server, an email connection is still possible.