Kerio Connect 7.3 goes RC1
Starting with the Unified Account Assistant to simplify the life of Mac users, all the way to storing digital certificates in Kerio GAL to take complexity out of sending and reading encrypted mail, the new Kerio Connect 7.3 is stronger than ever.
Here is a quick run down of what's coming down the pipe:
- Unified Account Assistant
- Configuration profiles for iOS
- Improved Web Administration
- Kerio Outlook Connector for 64-bit Outlook
- Encrypted email simplified
Unified Account Assistant for Mac
In one word, this is about simplicity. We took a good hard look at how Mac clients are used and configured by our customers. There's obviously a choice of configuration methods, most notably the Apple Mail client gives you four just for starters - POP3, IMAP, Exchange IMAP (IMAP/WebDAV) or Exchange (EWS). And the process for getting all three key Mac productivity apps (Apple Mail, iCal, Address Book) and popular Microsoft apps (Entourage 2008 and Outlook 2011 for Mac) configured can be demanding for some users. Now it takes a single click to get them all configured to work with Kerio Connect 7.3 running in the background. Right from my Kerio WebMail I select the Kerio Connect Account Assistant, and with a double click my Mac is ready to fly.
Configuration profiles for iOS
Got the iPhone? For a while, Apple has been supporting configuration profiles to simplify the setup process for Mail, Contacts and iCal apps in the iPhone. We have integrated a Kerio Connect-specific Configuration Profile right into Kerio WebMail and that will surely please any IT administrator. This is how it works: I launch Safari on my iPhone, type my WebMail address, click on "Set up my phone", and follow the on-screen instructions. I get to choose between Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync or standards-based CalDAV/CardDAV/IMAP, which are equally good, however EAS provides a few more services such as true push contacts, push calendar or GAL lookup.
Kerio Outlook Connector for 64-bit Outlook
Now about the workhorse of the corporate world - Microsoft Outlook. Though challenged by many (mounting pressure from Google Docs and perhaps VMware Zimbra made Microsoft consider an defensive attack on its own turf with the recent launch of Office 365 - accompanied by a series of service outages in August and September), Outlook remains a staple of the corporate world. The benefits of a well integrated productivity client like Outlook, which works reliably and unhampered in both online and offline worlds, are hard to question.
When Outlook 2010 came out running on 32-bit and 64-bit Windows systems, Microsoft inexplicably recommended that you run Outlook in a 32-bit mode even on a 64-bit Windows system. We took this as a recommendation and made our Kerio Outlook Connector work with the 32-bit version of Microsoft Outlook (x86). However, that was not what customers saw as best for themselves. From conversations with customers we pretty quickly realized that many users wanted to move to full 64-bit environments much more quickly than perhaps Microsoft had hoped. So, here you have it - Kerio Outlook Connector for 32/64-bit Microsoft Outlook.
Improved Web Administration
Our web interface team has completed a major piece of work in the Kerio Connect Web Admin. The focus was on (1) performance and (2) improved usability. We did away with time lags when switching from one screen to another, so the Web Admin should now feel much faster. Also, we brought back live data grids - yes, paging is gone. You will love it every single time you work with Users, Groups, Aliases etc. For performance reasons, we will retain paging on auto-refresh screens such as Connections.
Encrypted email simplified (SSL certificates in GAL)
Right, here is the big one: and it has everything to do with email encryption and digital certificates. In a typical scenario, when I need to exchange encrypted email with somebody, we have to trade our public encryption key first. And—at least in my experience—if the other party doesn't know what a digital certificate is, I am in a world of trouble. And it doesn't help much if the other party is a colleague in my office: the basics of email encryption are—to put it mildly—complex.
It's cool to see that Kerio Connect 7.3 makes this so much easier. Once an administrator puts users' public encryption keys into the directory service (Active Directory or Open Directory), the keys are automatically synchronized with the Kerio Global Address List (GAL). It means that I no longer need to send my public encryption key to a colleague who wants to send me an encrypted email message — my public key is sitting right inside Kerio Connect and every colleague of mine has immediate access to it through Kerio GAL. For now, this works with Microsoft Outlook 2007/2010 on a PC and Microsoft Outlook 2011 on a Mac.
Yes, plenty. I just barely scratched the surface. For instance, Full Text Search in Kerio WebMail and IMAP, Extended Out of Office settings, and improved KOFF performance to name a few more. I encourage you to review the Kerio Connect 7.3 RC1 release notes for a complete run down of all the new features, install the beta and see for yourself. Then come back and tell me what you think.