One of my friends has been singing the praises of a hosted Exchange solution for small businesses and individuals for a couple of years and I just kept putting off the idea thinking it wasn't something I would be interested in. As my collection of devices and computers grew, including the addition of an Apple MacBook Pro, I had a very tough time trying to keep my calendar, contacts, and email synced up on everything. I then tried out the provider he recommended for the 14-day free offer and immediately saw the benefit of having my data synced on a central server that every machine and device could access and keep synced. I am now a subscriber to the 4Smartphone.net hosted Exchange service.
Many companies already have an Exchange server, but for individuals like myself whose company uses Novell Groupwise or those who have a small business and do not have an Exchange server then I think hosted Exchange offers a very nice alternative at a great price. I am currently subscribed to the Professional plan that only costs US$6.99 per month. An Enterprise option is also available for US$9.99 per month per mailbox that includes folder sharing.
In addition to keeping all my mobile devices and computers in sync with a central database I now have the comfort in knowing my data is backed up on a remote server in case a device or computer crashes and I want to sync up the data again. This peace of mind alone is worth the low monthly cost I pay.
Outlook Web Access (OWA) is a feature of the 4Smartphone.net service so you can access your data from any computer with an internet connection and web browser, which is very handy if you are traveling or visiting someone and have an urgent need to check your calendar or email.
Another major benefit for Windows Mobile 5.0 users, with certain compatible devices, is true PUSH email through Exchange ActiveSync with 4Smartphone.net. This feature is what is making Windows Mobile a direct competitor to the BlackBerry market. My i-mate SP5m ROM was updated with the AKU-2 update and email is delivered to the device as soon as it hits the server. While I do not get push functionality, I am able to sync my Treo 650 and Nokia N70 with the hosted Exchange server too. I just ordered a Nokia E61 device that may give me the push email functionality and I'll report back when it arrives next week.