Recently, I had to go back and edit a post I made back in December titled “10 things I love about Outlook 2010” to include Text Messaging integration for Outlook 2010 (aka SMS Sync).

The ability to send and receive text messages from Outlook has long been available through 3rd party providers. There are two drawbacks to using 3rd party SMS gateways: cost and lack of synchronization. For example, any text messages sent out from Outlook via a 3rd party gateway would not sync with your mobile device, and you would be charged separately from your wireless carrier. So while you may have had unlimited text messages on your wireless plan, you now had an additional charge for sending text messages from Outlook. This kept a lot of people from using the 3rd party SMS gateways like red oxygen.

To resolve this, Exchange 2010 adds a new Active Sync feature called SMS Sync. This allows Outlook 2010 and Outlook Web App to send and receive text messages through your Windows Mobile 6.1 or higher device. For a list of features in Active Sync available by client type, see this table.

Sending a text message from Outlook 2010

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Sending a text message from Outlook Web App 2010

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Receiving text messages in Outlook 2010

 

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How does it work?

Instead of going through a 3rd party provider, Outlook & OWA will piggyback on your Windows Mobile 6.1 or higher device to send and receive the text message. This happens over the air with no cable needed. So as long as your mobile device is turned on, you will be able to send and receive text messages. This is helpful on a number of fronts. Those text messages are now discoverable via the new Multi-Mailbox Search functionality included in Exchange 2010 (see this blog) as well as from Windows Desktop Search. You can respond much faster to text messages and not have to switch between your desktop/laptop and your mobile device. You can start/finish/continue conversations between your mobile device and your laptop/desktop because they are completely in sync. Note: It goes without saying, but you are still subject to your wireless plan’s terms for text messaging costs.

Requirements

Client

  • Windows Mobile 6.1 or higher

Server

  • Exchange 2010

 

Note: If you don’t have a Windows Mobile device, or if your Exchange Server is not yet running 2010, you can still experiment with a free trial from a SMS gateway like Red Oxygen.

 

What other new ActiveSync features are noteworthy?

I have really come to rely on is message flagging. Now, I can triage e-mail from my mobile device and flag items for follow up so that when I get back to my PC there are no messages that drop through the cracks.

 

Summary

Are these new features enough to attract iPhone and Droid users to the Windows Mobile platform? Probably not. However, I do think they may keep Windows Mobile users from switching to iPhone or Droid and instead wait for the new Windows Mobile 7 devices, as early reviews of the platform are incredible. Here is one from Gizmodo to wet your appetite.