Exchange Server supports public folders. Public folders are for common access to messages and files. Files

can be dragged from file−access interfaces, such as Explorer in Windows 98, NT 4, 2000, and 2003, and can

be dropped into public folders.

You can set up sorting rules for a public folder so that items in the folder are organized by a range of

attributes, such as the name of the sender or the creator of the item, or the date that the item arrived or was

placed in the folder. Items in a public folder can be sorted by conversation threads. You can also put

applications built on existing products such as Word or Excel or with Exchange or Outlook Forms Designer,

client or server scripting, or the Exchange API set into public folders. You can use public folders to replace

many of the maddening paper−based processes that abound in every organization.

For easy access to items in a public folder, you can use a folder link. You can send a link to a folder in a

message. When someone goes to the folder and double−clicks a file you put in the folder, the file opens.

Everyone who receives the message works with the same linked attachment, so everyone reads and can

modify the same file. As with document routing, applications such as Microsoft Word can keep track of each

person’s changes to and comments on file contents. Of course, your users will have to learn to live with the

fact that only one person can edit an application file at a time. Most modern end−user applications warn the

user that someone else is using the file and allow the user to open a read−only copy of the file, which, of

course, can’t be edited. Third−party applications offer tighter document checkout control (see the Appendix,

‘Cool Third−Party Applications for Exchange Server and Outlook Clients’).

If all this isn’t already enough, Exchange is very much Internet aware. With Exchange Server 2003, you can

publish all or selected public folders on the Internet, where they become accessible with a simple Internet

browser. You can limit Internet access to public folders only to users who have access under Windows Server

2003’s security system, or you can open public folders to anyone on the Internet. Just think about it:

Internet−enabled public folders let you put information on the Internet without the fuss and bother of website

design and development. Any item can be placed on the Internet by simply adding a message or other object

to a public folder.

Before we leave public folder applications, I want to mention one more option: Exchange Server 2003 enables

you to bring any or all of those Usenet Internet newsgroups to your public folder environment. With their

Outlook clients, users then can read and reply to newsgroup items just as though they were using a standard

newsgroup reader application. Exchange Server comes with all the tools that you need to do this. All you need

is an Internet connection, access to a host computer that can provide you with a feed of newsgroup messages,

and a set of rules about which groups to exclude. Remember, this is where the infamous alt.sex newsgroups

live. But you don’t have to use public newsgroups. Rather, you can create your own private newsgroups for

internal communications.

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