History of Exchange, Windows Messaging and Outlook Clients

Last reviewed on May 8, 2014   —  No comments yet

Time marches forward but sometimes it's fun to look back... this page provides a quick index to the different e-mail clients provided by Microsoft since the release of Windows 95.

Microsoft Outlook is the premier Exchange client, but it has it's roots in the original Exchange client and Windows Messaging, both of which only did email. Calendaring was supplied by Schedule+ and Contacts were stored in the Personal Address Book (PAB).

Microsoft Outlook | Exchange Server Client | Other Exchange Server Clients
Windows Messaging | Outlook Express | More Information

Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft Outlook is built upon the earlier Exchange clients and as a result, Outlook is the preferred client for Microsoft Exchange and also supports Internet (POP3 and IMAP) and other mail services. The first release was Outlook 97, followed by Outlook 98, Outlook 2000, Outlook 2002 (aka Outlook XP), Outlook 2003, Outlook 2007, Outlook 2010. "Outlook 15" is the upcoming version.

Outlook 97 began at version 8.0 to match the Office version numbering system. Outlook 98 was version 8.5 because Outlook 97 was so awful that they had to release an interim build ahead of the "next" Office release. (That's why it was free and included with many books!)

The Outlook version numbers don't begin to tell the whole story. Outlook 97 was awful for non-Exchange users, which lead the developers to split Outlook into two versions - one which worked well with Exchange and OK with POP3, called "Corporate/Workgroup" (C/W) and a second version that did Internet mail, known as Internet Mail Only (IMO). Confusion abounded because there were quite a few differences between the two versions. This lasted through Outlook 2000, and Outlook 2002 brought the two modes together again into one Outlook client. Support was 100 times easier!

Outlook 97 introduced Word as the email editor, but it was slow and awful. In Outlook 2000, Word as the editor was usable, not perfect, but usable and by Outlook 2002, Word was acceptable as the email editor. Outlook 2007 eliminated the separate Outlook email editor.

For a history of features, see New Features in: Outlook 2002, Outlook 2003, Outlook 2007, Outlook 2010. Also see Missing Features in Outlook 2002.

Exchange Server Client

A separate Exchange client ended with the introduction of Outlook 97.

Included on the Exchange Server 4.0 and 5.0 client CDs. The only versions that could be downloaded are the full copy from Exchange Server 4.0 Service Pack 2 and the update in Exchange Server 4.0 Service Pack 4. Note that the Exchange program included with Windows 95 cannot connect to Exchange Server, except as a POP client.

There were separate versions for Windows 95/98 and Windows NT:

Other Exchange Server Clients

Windows Messaging

Included with Windows 95 OEM Service Pack 2 and 98, Windows NT 4.0 and, if you know where to look, Windows 98. Can be downloaded as Exchange Update for Windows 95. Windows Messaging cannot connect to Exchange Server, except as a POP client.

Windows Messaging development stopped with the introduction of Outlook.
Also see:

Outlook Express

Outlook Express was included in all Windows versions until Vista, when it was replaced with Mail. No email client was shipped in Windows 7, although Windows Live Mail was available as a free download. Windows 8 includes an email client.

More Information

  • Microsoft Outlook E-Mail and Collaboration Clients
  • Outlook Build Info
  • Exchange Clients An Important Part of Your Exchange Server Deployments
  • Choose the Exchange 2000 client that's right for your organization -- by Outlook MVP Patricia Cardoza

Written by

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

Please post long or more complicated questions at Outlookforums.

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