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Summary:

As I move between multiple devices, I’ve come to realize many efficiencies. There’s something to be said for using a hosted Exchange server and having access to all of my e-mail on two Windows Mobile phones, a UMPC, a convertible Tablet PC and a dual-boot desktop […]

Outlook_logoAs I move between multiple devices, I’ve come to realize many efficiencies. There’s something to be said for using a hosted Exchange server and having access to all of my e-mail on two Windows Mobile phones, a UMPC, a convertible Tablet PC and a dual-boot desktop with XP and Vista. Yup, all of my mail, contacts, appointments and tasks are up to date on each of those devices. Sounds like nirvana, right?

It would be except for one teensy, tiny issue in the Outlook Calendar across all of these devices: appointment reminders. All of these reminders pop-up on the client side on each and every client device I use. I previously knew this, but got a nice refresher when I booted into XP on the desktop for the first time in five weeks. Once I opened up Outlook, my data synched up without issue, just as it should. And then came the reminders. Ugh!

I realize that these reminders are acted upon at the client level, but I think we’re ready for synchronized reminders on the server side. I know I am: are you? Note: if I’ve overlooked a setting here in Outook 2003 or 2007, someone just let me know: 20 reminders this morning was about 19 more than I was ready for! ;) Perhaps there’s an Exchange setting for this? I understand I may be in the minority here with multiple devices, but I suspect more folks will fall into the multiple device category before too much longer; isn’t the UMPC a companion device?

  1. What do you need to do to set up an exchange server at home? Is it something that you can set up between a desktop and a UMPC, realistically?

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  2. This has been bothering me for a while. To me the fundamental problem is the meeting invitor, not the acceptor gets to set the reminder. That makes no sense. If I’m invited to a meeting, I should decide at the client if and how I want to be reminded.

    Because I have multiple synced devices, I’d choose not to have any reminders at all, but to do so I have to manual open every meeting invite and turn off the reminder that was specified by the inviter. Worse, I choose not to set a reminder for meetings I initiate, and some of the recipients complain that I haven’t set a reminder. So now I have to send the invite with a reminder, then go in and turn off the reminder for myself.

    I’d love to be able to set reminder rules on a client level, i.e. no reminders on my Motorola Q, 15 minute reminders for 1 hour meetings (only if my screen saver isn’t active), etc… I don’t want to have to dismiss reminders for time sensitive appointments from yesterday (even if I missed them, it’s too late now).

    I’m really surprised that Outlook/Exchange product managers haven’t worked through these use cases better by now.

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  3. To answer Scoobie’s question, probably the most practical way to go about setting up an Exchange server at home is to purchase a Microsoft Small Business Server (or puchase the OEM Software and build one yourself). I recently saw an IBM SBS 2003 server (as in hardware with server software preinstalled) for about $800. Plenty of hardware to run a small (as in home) domain. IIRC, SBS includes 5 Client Access Licenses for Outlook, meaning you may install Outlook on 5 PCs that connect to it. SBS comes with a domain server, exchange, IIS and in some versions, SQL and ISA. Quite a bargain, if you care for Windows.

    I’m in the process of setting up an Exchange Server (by which I mean I’m having a coworker set it up for me ). Life will be good once it’s up and running.

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  4. Yes, brother, I AM ready for a new day…a day when I do NOT have to dismiss the same reminders on the work PC, the home PC, the Tablet PC, the UMPC, the Pocket PC, and Exchange On the Web Access! Please!

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  5. Reminders are synchronized in some way. For your desktop clients you just need to wait until synchronization with the server has finished. Your reminders pop up instantly when you start Outlook which is valid but they go away as they are synchonized. I’m not exactly sure about the mobile devices, I think it’s different here…

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  6. Sorry to stray off a little, but can anyone recommend a website that compares different hosted Exchange services (if there are differences)? What should I look for when comparing (for private, individual use)? I have two devices, namely a laptop at home and tablet “on the run”, and I’d love to have my e-mail, appointments and contacts in a central place – even with the reminder issue…
    Thanks a lot!

    Kevin & James: thank you guys for your excellent work here at jkontherun – I just love the combination of industry news, reviews and personal infos/opinions and it has been extremely helpful and entertaining so far.

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  7. JDK, thanks for the kind words. I don’t know of a comparison of features anywhere but I know Kevin uses 4smartphone.net and I use MailStreet.

    I have been a MailStreet customer for a few years and other than a few bumps (namely tardiness in upgrading the server to 2003) they’ve been great. They are more expensive than others, though. I know Kevin has a cheap plan with 4Smartphone.net so maybe he can chime in on his experiences with them.

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  8. I would definitely like there to be a way to only have one reminder. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even set task reminders on my computer anymore, and just have my phone handle them all. It especially drives me crazy, as people have pointed out, when I have to dismiss a reminder for the 1′oclock meeting I went to last Friday.

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  9. For JDK , this website I think does what you are after

    http://www.slipstick.com/outlook/share.htm

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  10. James, scoobie, thanks a lot for the information, that’ll be a good starting point.

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