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While many users might find themselves disappointed, it should come as no surprise that Microsoft Office 2013 does not support Exchange 2003 or older versions. Microsoft set the trend earlier on with new releases of Office gradually getting away from supporting more cumbersome server and exchange programs. For example when Microsoft released Office 2010 it no longer offered support for Exchange 2000. This is because newer versions of software have new interfaces, and more importantly it costs the company a lot of money to continue supporting antiquated systems. Exchange 2003 has been around for a decade now, and while it is still an extremely popular version of the software there have been numerous releases of Office which make Exchange 2003 slightly more than out dated.

The major challenge with the lack of support is the integration of Outlook 2013 with Exchange. If you are running Exchange 2003, this is not an option. While Outlook 2013 supports a version of Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) allowing you use EAS with Hotmail accounts, it won’t work with Exchange 2003’s implementation of EAS. It will also not work with Gmail’s implementation of EAS. Instead a user would be limited to POP3 or IMAP with Exchange 2003, which can be clunky and not as user friendly.

If you want to use Outlook 2013, you can use it with a Hotmail account, Office 365, POP3, or IMAP account. These are a little less business friendly than the direct access to the exchange, but can prove a decent stop gap measure while your business considers the upgrade to a new Exchange platform or remains on an older Office Suite. Using POP or IMAP, you can pull in your email from the Exchange 2003 server and then use your regular email to respond since the email is easy to pull into the Office 365 mailbox which supports “connected accounts”.

Outlook 2013 also does not support many legacy public folder functions, such as the Free/Busy service, and direct booking of calendar resources is not offered or supported in this version. Getting a tech service to evaluate your needs with regards to an Office update or integration with a new Exchange server before making the move is always a great idea.