Comparison of Outlook 2010, OWA 2010 and Outlook 2011 Features [Updated]

imageWith the recent release of Office 2011 for the Mac, Outlook makes a welcome return, spearheading the way toward full feature parity between Outlook on Windows and Mac. Finally, will your Mac users will be able to do everything their Windows counterparts can? Is Outlook 2011 for Mac just an improvement on Entourage 2008 EWS edition, and will Mac users need something like VMware Fusion plus Outlook 2010 to gain all the features they need for full interoperability with Exchange?

And with OWA becoming truly cross-platform, does this provide enough features to by-pass the desktop install of Outlook completely on the Mac and provide email access to Mac users via the browser?

The answer to both those questions isn’t a straightforward one and depends on what you actually need…

After a few weeks of usage, Outlook 2011 feels more like Entourage than than it does Outlook – it seems obvious what code it’s based upon and it’s certainly not inheriting anything from the Windows version. But as a mail client it feels more accomplished than older versions of Entourage did, and is easy to work with if you’re used to Outlook on a Windows PC.

When it comes to OWA 2010 SP1 – There has been a lot of improvement over previous versions, but it seems that the OWA and Outlook teams don’t work closely together, as UI inconsistencies are common both in the way features work and are named (e.g. Calendar sharing features). This is muddled further as OWA’s Options / Exchange Control Panel is essential for Outlook 2010 operation, for example when configuring Unified Messaging features.

Getting down to the nitty gritty of the features however and it’s a complex story. Outlook 2011 doesn’t have feature parity with either Outlook 2010, OWA 2010 or even Outlook 2007. It’s got a smattering of features from all three. OWA 2010 fairs a lot better when it comes to Exchange 2010 feature support (obviously), but misses out useful features like contacts importing that are present in competitor webmail applications like GMail.

To make comparisons a little easier, I’ve went through and checked/tested the features that are most important to me and compiled a short comparison table. It’s now updated to cover Outlook 2011 SP1, but if you think anything is missing or needs amendment, let me know in the comments.

Outlook Comparison Table

Feature Feature Description Outlook 2010 OWA 2010 SP1 Outlook 2011
AD Rights Management Services Protects messages from unauthorised access. Yes Yes Yes
Address Book Defaults Allows a default address list (such as Contacts, GAL) to be chosen Yes Yes (Limited) No
Autodiscover Compatibility Automatic setup of Exchange account Yes N/A Yes
Auto Archive Automatically moves older items to a local PST Yes N/A No
Calendar Preview in Meeting Requests Meeting requests show a preview of adjacent or conflicting appointments Yes No Yes
Conversation Actions Ignore and Clean Up/Delete buttons Yes Yes No
Conversation View Improved Conversation Threading Yes Yes Yes
Cross Forest Mailbox Move Support Auto reconfigure using auto discover Yes Yes Yes
CSV Contacts Import/Export Import/ Export CSV files in a standard format Yes No Yes
Distribution Group Management Management of memberships of Exchange Distribution Groups Yes Yes No
Distribution Group Expansion Expand DGs before sending to see all members Yes No No
Enhanced Out of Office Set external/internal message and from/to date range Yes Yes Yes
Export PST Allow PST files to be created and data exported Yes No No
Federated Sharing Compatibility Integration to allow access to remote calendar, share local calendar Yes Yes Yes
Group Schedule View Combine Multiple Calendars in One View Yes No Yes
Import PST Allow PST files to be imported to the mailbox Yes No Yes
Instant Search Fast searching using pre-built search index Yes Yes Yes (Using Spotlight)
Integrated E-Mail Archive Online Archive Access Yes Yes No
Internet Calendar Sharing/Subscription iCal Calendar Sharing/Server Side Subscription Yes Yes No
MailTips Server side mail tips for OOF, Large DG, permissions to send or comments Yes Yes No
Multiple Exchange Accounts Multiple accounts with different servers or domains Yes No Yes
Offline Address Book OAB access and download Yes N/A Yes
Office Communicator Integration Start converations video, call IM Yes Yes (IM) Yes
Outlook Contact Card Photo and Voice Description GAL Photos and UM Name along with availability Yes No No
Outlook Social Connector Plugins for Facebook, LinkedIn Yes No No
Quick Actions Macros to perform multiple or common actions at once Yes No No
Quick View Allows viewing of compatible attachments without leaving Outlook Yes Yes Yes (OS 10.6 required)
Resend Message Resend button allows you to resend an email Yes No Yes (with SP1)
Retention and Archive Policy Management Set and view retention policy for folders Yes Yes No
Ribbon Interface Office Fluent User Interface Yes No Yes
Right-Hand Preview Pane Message preview shown to the right of messages Yes Yes No
Roaming Autocomplete List Stored Nicknames on the server Yes Yes Yes
RSS Aggregator Subscribe to RSS Feeds from Outlook Yes No No
Scheduling Assistance / Availability Service Integration Real time calendar view for meeting and room bookings Yes Yes Yes
Server-side Junk E-mail List Modification of server side junk email allow/block list Yes Yes No
Server-side rules Modification of server side inbox rules Yes Yes Yes (with SP1)
Text Messaging through ActiveSync Access and Send Text Messages via compatible WinMo 6.5 Device Yes Yes No
Unified Inbox Combined view of Inbox across multiple email accounts. No N/A Yes
Voicemail Play On Phone UM play voicemail on phone Yes Yes No
Voting Buttons Allows approval of moderated messages or voting on user generated emails. Yes No No

62 thoughts on “Comparison of Outlook 2010, OWA 2010 and Outlook 2011 Features [Updated]

  1. Steve

    Excellent comparison, many thanks, but you don’t mention mailmerge into email, which you can’t do with OWA. It’s the integration between Outlook and the other Office and SharePoint components that make it so powerful.



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  3. Steve, what about the outlook integration with Lync, we use that feature a lot for web conferencing , Live Meeting service & ..?

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  5. Steve;

    Thanks for the great information. Can mail retention information be seen in OWA? The retention policy information shows on each individual message in Outlook 2010 but I don’t see a way to get that same information showing in OWA.


  6. Great Website Steve.

    I found out the hard way that OWA does not display Contacts or Calendars if you have imported from a PST into an Online Archive after migration. We just did Notes to Exchange migration, where every Notes mailbox was exported first to PST, then ingested to an Online Archive. All users are to be using OWA and not the full Outlook Client. So no Contacts and no Calendars in OWA.

    We’re having login to 250 Outlook clients manually tonight and drag and drop from Online Archive to Main Mailbox.

    I just started 10 of them and will be up all night 🙁

    Others beware….cheers

    Others beware….cheers

    • Hi Lesley,

      I’ve not had a chance to test this myself, but if I come across the opportunity will do any update the post. For OWA in particular, it doesn’t have any particular connectivty I am aware of unless the Calendar can be shared publicly in iCal format.


  7. Am not able to view multiple columns as we do in outlook for windows. That gives a gr8 comfort to search mails. Is that facility not in now? If yes, am disappointed.


  8. Something else is the “Sensitivity” setting from Outlook, where you can set Normal/Personal/Private/Confidential. this feature is not available in Mac Outlook 2011. This came up during a project where we were going to perform certain actions on emails based on this setting, but discovered that our many Mac users wouldn’t be able to take advantage of this.

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  10. Hi, I am using Outlook 2011 for Mac. I want to be able to see the file names of attachments when i print an e-mail. How do i do this?

  11. Format Painter is a function from Outlook for Windows that I miss. Not sure if it was in Outlook 2010 for mac.

  12. Thanx for your comparison! Because of a team-calendar, I had to install this M$-Outlook thing on my Mac today (I had to uninstall my previous M$-Office 2011 Installation by hand to get it installed …), and I was looking for the vote-buttons. Now I know that they are not available in M$-Outlook 2011.
    All in all I’m very disappointed that I must use M$-Outlook. Compared to the other tools it’s (Mail, iCal, ) like falling back to the usability stone age: Limited D’n’D, ugly and overstuffed UI (like the horrible window for new dates) …

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  19. One of the things that I can’t seem to find relates to management of tasks.

    I can create tasks for myself, but the Task Request functionality, being able to assign tasks to others is missing from Outlook 2011. So for now, I pop open a VMWare session and create the task request in Windows, then come back to Mac for day-to-day operation.

  20. One of the things I didn’t like about Entourage is that the list of attachments in an email will not print. Now I find that Outlook 2011 won’t print the list of attachments either, but they do print on the PC version. This is a negative for someone who receives documents via email. Is it possible to print the list of attachments?

  21. Are you considering reviewing your table now that OL 2011 SP1 has been released? At least one change is in server side rules but I haven’t tested to see how extensive that was. I’m enjoying the new ‘resend’ command that I use daily in my work.

    And you’re right. OL 2011 is a great improvement, at least in stability, over Apple Mail and Entourage. Brien

  22. Nice comparison! I am used to Outlook 2007 — pretty sad that 4 years later it is not as complete. But I was using VmWare — so I am willing to overlook what they overlooked, just being able to drag attachments consistently and the speed improvement over VmWare is worth it for me. Here is what I miss that hasn’t been mentioned…

    Contact Groups (Distribution Lists) existing in Exchange Server – Can’t expand a group to see who is in the group before sending email. 
    Can’t resize an in-line attachment (picture in body of email) when sending email
    Can’t resend a message, only forward or reply.
    No “save-as” — Can’t save an e-mail to your hard drive or network for long-term storage except by dragging owl? No save-as Text, nor html. (can print to Pdf…not the best.)
    Can’t add additional  columns (to  list of emails) — “Columns” is grayed out in view menu (want to add “Size” ), also cannot rearrange columns.
    Can’t tell the exact Size of an email with embedded attachments.

  23. 2011’s implementation of Smart Folders is limited. For instance, I have a search in 2007 that shows me all my pending invitations that I use all the time to show me the invites I need to respond to. Can’t do it in 2011.

  24. Fantastic resource!

    One confusing note: the “CSV Contacts Import/Export” description mentions PSTs, which I think is a copy/paste error.

    Also, you’ve got enough features listed now it might be worth trying to break them up into categories to make it easier to find/compare them.

  25. Outlook 2010 does not have a recover deleted items option for all public folder types such as Contact folders. Normal Post folders do have the option. This is possible using Outlook 2007 SP1 though…

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  27. Another thing that is disappointing on Outlook 2011 that Outlook 2010 has is tabbed calendars for viewing many shared calendars AND colors for those other calendars. Outlook 2011 for some stupid reason shows every shared calendar in the same color so it is next to impossible to see who’s calendar you are looking at without checking and unchecking the different calendars.

    Nice comparison by the way!!!

    • Hi Knightryder,

      You are right, Outlook 2011 isn’t a perfect Outlook replica on the Mac. One can only hope they improve it in service packs, as they did in Entourage. If you’ve been used to Outlook 2010 you won’t be blown away, but if you’ve come from earlier versions, like Outlook 2003 or Entourage it is a fantastic upgrade.

      Thanks for the kind comment – pass on my regards to KITT 😉


  28. OWA can both Ignore and Delete entire conversations (which I think probably qualifies for a different answer under Conversation Actions).

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  31. Outlook 2010 has Addressing options, where you can set “Start with Global Address List”, “Start with Contacts folders” or “custom”. With Outlook 2011 it appears it wants to use contacts and recently used addresses first, then the directory. To my knowledge this cannot be edited anywhere. This is a real bummer because I’m now accidentally sending emails to co-workers home addresses (if I have them in my Contacts).

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  33. A few more things to add:

    No Auto Archive
    No column based Inbox AND preview pane on the right (A great view if you get loads of email).

    If people expect that Outlook for Mac now was in sync with the PC version (like I did) they will be disappointed. Outlook 2011 is Entourage with a new GUI.

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  36. Great list, Steve! A couple of minor quibbles:

    – Outlook for Mac uses the same Suggested Contacts folder that Outlook 2010 and OWA 2010 use, so I’d say “Roaming Autocomplete List” should be “yes”.
    – Outlook for Mac and OWA 2010 both support AD Rights Management Services; that might be worth a mention.
    – Outlook for Mac uses the OS-provided Spotlight feature for client-side search, so it has “instant search,” but it doesn’t use the Exchange content index.
    – Outlook for Mac provides a unified inbox for multiple Exchange accounts, a feature sadly omitted from Outlook 2010.

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