New OWA: A Crisp, Clean Feeling
The updated version of OWA is now generally available, which means that it is now available in all Office 365 tenants. The new design is fresh and attractive and includes some nice new features, such as supporting Outlook categories in its favorite list, not to mention dark mode, the ability to schedule Teams meetings, and other new stuff.
On the other hand, some features from the older interface haven’t yet made it across to the new version. However, most of what’s not there could be regarded as nice to have rather than essential, and the new client is more than ready for use.
OWA’s Extra Tabs
While those who know how to use the old OWA won’t encounter much difficulty finding their way around the new, one behavioral change is already causing some comments. In the old OWA, when you switch from mail to calendar, the same tab is used within the browser. The new OWA launches a separate tab. Although this allows you to quickly move between calendar and email, you can end up with multiple tabs open for OWA.
The OWA Toggle
Because the new OWA is generally available, Microsoft has updated the UI of the old client to display a toggle switch to select the new OWA.
Toggling the switch on causes OWA to refresh and load the new interface. Toggling off reverts to the old UI.
As during the preview of the new OWA, administrators can control the display of the toggle switch with the OutlookBetaToggleEnabled setting in the OWA mailbox policy assigned to mailboxes. If True, OWA displays the toggle. If false, the toggle is invisible. If you look at the OWA mailbox policies in your tenant, you’ll find that Microsoft has enabled the toggle for all policies.
Controlling the New OWA Toggle
Some tenants will want to stop people using the new OWA in order to allow help desk and documentation to be prepared. This is easily done by switching the setting to False. For example, to do this for all policies, run the command:
Get-OWAMailboxPolicy | Set-OWAMailboxPolicy -OutlookBetaToggleEnabled $False
You might then assign a new OWA mailbox policy with the switch enabled to users that need to access the new UI for testing. Let’s assume that this policy is called OWAFullAccess. To set the switch in the policy and assign it to a mailbox, run the commands:
Set-OWAMailboxPolicy -Identity OWAFullAccess -OutlookBetaToggleEnabled $True
Set-CASMailbox -Identity Sanjay.Patel -OWAMailboxPolicy OWAFullAccess
Because Exchange Online caches client settings, it normally takes about 15 minutes before the assignment of an OWA policy to a mailbox or changing a setting in an OWA policy is effective.
If you disable the toggle to stop people enabling the new OWA, anyone who has already switched the toggle to on won’t be able to revert to the older interface because the toggle disappears. A small edge case to consider…
We cover OWA among the other Exchange clients in Chapter 10 of the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook.