Exchange Online service description

Microsoft Exchange Online is a hosted messaging solution that delivers email, calendar, contacts, and tasks from PCs, the web, and mobile devices. It integrates fully with Microsoft Entra ID, enabling administrators to use group policies, as well as other administration tools, to manage Exchange Online features across their environment.

Organizations that subscribe to Exchange Online retain control over the messaging services they offer to users. With the Exchange Online hosted plans described in this document, email is hosted on servers that support multiple customers simultaneously. These servers are housed in Microsoft datacenters and are accessible to users on a wide range of devices from inside a corporate network or over the Internet.

Available plans for Exchange Online

For detailed plan information on subscriptions that enable users for Exchange Online, see the Microsoft 365 business plan comparison and Microsoft 365 Enterprise plan comparison.

For detailed plan information on subscriptions that enable users for Exchange Online and are currently available in European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland see the Microsoft 365 business plan comparison for EEA and Microsoft 365 Enterprise plan comparison for EEA.


Each user who accesses the Exchange Online service must be assigned to a subscription plan, and each user subscription has its own mailbox. Folders and messages in these mailboxes reside at a Microsoft datacenter. User subscriptions are not required for conference rooms and shared mailboxes. These special mailbox types do not have login credentials, instead, licensed users with the appropriate permissions manage and access them via delegation. Microsoft 365 F1 does not include rights to an Exchange mailbox.

Feature availability (including standalone plans)

The following table lists the major Exchange Online features available across plans (certain caveats apply -- see the footnotes for further information -- this table may change without notice). For the most up-to-date, complete list of features across plans, see Powerful tools to support your enterprise. For feature availability visit your Message Center in the Microsoft 365 admin center or talk to your provider for more details on how the new Microsoft 365 Apps plan impacts you.

Features available to all plans

These features are available for all Business (basic, standard, and premium), Enterprise (E1, E3, E5 and F3) and Exchange Online plans (1, 2 and Kiosk) – caveats apply; see footnotes for further information.

Service Feature
Anti-spam and anti-malware protection (via direct access to the Exchange admin center management interface) Built-in anti-spam and anti-malware protection (uses multiple anti-malware engines to scan inbound, outbound, and internal messages for malware)
Customized anti-spam and anti-malware policies
Quarantine - administrator management, and quarantine - end-user self-management
Exchange Online setup and administration Microsoft 365 portal and admin center access, Exchange admin center access, Remote Windows PowerShell access
ActiveSync policies for mobile devices
Usage reporting
High availability and business continuity Mailbox replication at datacenters
Single item recovery (not available for F3 and Kiosk plans)
Deleted mailbox and deleted item recovery
Interoperability, connectivity, and compatibility Skype for Business presence in OWA and Outlook
SharePoint interoperability
EWS connectivity support (EWS app support applied to impersonation), SMTP relay support
Mail flow Custom routing of outbound mail
Secure messaging with a trusted partner, Adding a partner to an inbound safe list
Conditional mail and hybrid email routing (CALs or upgrade to an Enterprise SKU provide the access rights)
Planning and deployment Hybrid deployment supported (CALs or upgrade to an Enterprise SKU provide access rights for business and F3 plans), IMAP, cutover, and staged migration supported
Reporting features and troubleshooting tools Microsoft 365 admin center reports
Excel reporting workbook, Web Services reports, Unified Messaging reports (E3/E5 and plan 2 only)
Message trace and auditing reports are accessible via direct access to the Exchange admin center (EAC) management interface
Recipients Capacity alerts, Clutter, MailTips
Inbox rules, Resource mailboxes, Out-of-office replies
Offline address book, Address book policies
Distribution Groups, External contacts (global), Universal contact card, Contact linking with social networks
Conference room management,
Calendar sharing (Kiosk calendars can only be accessed or shared through OWA)
Sharing and collaboration Federated sharing (including calendar publishing)
Site mailboxes (SharePoint Online must be included and deployed)
Public folders (not available for F3 and Kiosk plans)
Voice message services Skype for Business integration
Third-party voice mail interoperability (only E3/E5 and Plan 2 provide voicemail and third-party voicemail/fax integration -- For third-party PBX systems via direct connections, see Discontinuation of support for Session Border Controllers in Exchange Online Unified Messaging

Features available to some plans

These features are available to some plans – caveats apply see footnotes for further information (this table may change without notice).

Feature Description Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Business Standard Microsoft 365 Business Premium Office 365 E1 Microsoft 365 E3/E5 & Office 365 E3/E5 Microsoft 365 F3 & Office 365 F3 Exchange Online Plan 2 Exchange Online Plan 1 Exchange Online Kiosk
Clients and mobile devices Outlook on the web1, Outlook for iOS and Android1, Exchange ActiveSync and SMTP Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
POP and IMAP Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes2 Yes Yes Yes2
EWS application support, Outlook for Windows1,9, Outlook for Mac1,9 Yes9 Yes Yes9 Yes No Yes9 Yes9 No
Basic Mobility and Security for Microsoft 365 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Message policy and compliance Exchange Online Archiving for Exchange Online No Yes No Yes No Yes No No
Exchange Online Archiving for Exchange Server No No No Yes No Yes No No
Manual retention policies, labels, and tags No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
IRM using Azure Information Protection No No No Yes No No No No
Microsoft Purview Message Encryption (Basic) Yes3 Yes No3 Yes Yes3 Yes Yes Yes
Microsoft Purview Advanced Message Encryption No No No Yes No No No No
Microsoft Purview Customer Key No No No Yes No No No No
In-Place Hold, Litigation Hold No Yes No Yes No Yes No No
Microsoft Purview Data Loss Prevention No Yes No Yes No Yes No No
Encryption of data at rest (BitLocker), Messaging Records Management (MRM), S/MIME, Journaling, eDiscovery content search4, Transport rules5 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Support for IRM using Windows Server AD RMS6 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Permissions Role-based permissions, role groups and role assignment policies Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Recipients Delegate access and hierarchical address book8 Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Inactive mailboxes No No No Yes No Yes No No
Microsoft 365 Groups Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes7 Yes7 No

1 Some third-party web parts and add-ins may not be available.
2 POP is supported, but IMAP is not.
3 You must add Azure Information Protection Plan 1 to the following plans: Exchange Online Plan 1 or 2, Office 365 F3, Microsoft 365 Business Basic or Standard, or Office 365 Enterprise E1 To receive Microsoft Purview Message Encryption.
4 For eDiscovery, you need a separate query for on-premises vs. cloud.
5 Transport rules are made up of flexible criteria, which allow you to define conditions and exceptions, and actions to take based on the criteria. For a list of available criteria and actions, see the corresponding criteria and actions topics for each product.
6 Windows Server AD RMS is an on-premises server that must be purchased and managed separately to enable the supported IRM features.
7 Microsoft 365 Groups are available with reduced functionality.
8 Delegate access in an F3 environment means that the F3 user can access other mailboxes, but they cannot have delegates access their F3 mailbox.
9 Connecting an Office 365 E1, Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Microsoft Exchange Online P1 or P2 to Outlook for Windows, classic Outlook for Windows, and Outlook for Mac requires that those applications first be licensed with an account that includes the rights to Microsoft 365 desktop apps.

Learn more

For more information about Exchange Online, check out the following resources: