Exchange Online setup and administration

This article describes the administration controls and support that are available to customize Exchange Online settings and keep an organization's Exchange Online environment up, running, and current. It includes information about self-service administration tools and capabilities available to organizations; Microsoft administration responsibilities and performance commitments; and service and product upgrades.

Self-service administration tools

Although Microsoft directly controls all Exchange Online data centers and is responsible for overall system performance, it can control only a portion of the elements that combine to provide the total experience for users. Organizations themselves are responsible for the network connections to the data centers, the customer's wide area network (WAN), and the customer's local area networks (LANs). Additionally, they are in charge of user devices and their configuration.  They are also responsible for maintaining the required licensing per user for any desired feature, including, but not limited to, the ability to manage these features, for as long as the user needs access to the feature.

Exchange Online therefore provides customer administrators with the following tools, described below, to manage a variety of messaging-related tasks:

Microsoft Office 365 portal

The Microsoft Office 365 portal, at, is the website through which administrators and partners purchase and manage Office 365 services and where users access and use Office 365 collaborative tools.

Microsoft 365 admin center

The Microsoft 365 admin center is the web portal from which each company's service administrator can manage user accounts and settings for each of the Microsoft services to which they subscribe. From within the Microsoft 365 admin center, administrators can follow links to the Exchange admin center (EAC), where they can manage settings specific to Exchange Online. For more information about getting up and running using the Microsoft 365 admin center, see the following video: Introducing Office 365 Enterprise.

Exchange admin center

Exchange Online provides a single unified management console that allows for ease of use and is optimized for management of on-premises, online, or hybrid deployments. The Exchange admin center (EAC) is where administrators can manage Exchange-specific settings.

For more information about how to use the EAC to manage Exchange Online, see Exchange admin center.

Remote Windows PowerShell for Exchange Online

Using remote Windows PowerShell, administrators can connect to Exchange Online to perform management tasks that are not available or practical using the EAC. These include the ability to automate repetitive tasks, extract data for custom reports, customize policies, and connect Exchange Online to existing infrastructure and processes. For more information, see Connect to Exchange Online Using Remote PowerShell.

Exchange Online uses the same Windows PowerShell cmdlets as Exchange Server 2013, with certain commands and parameters unavailable because these features do not apply in Exchange Online. For a list of cmdlets for use with Exchange Online, see Exchange Online cmdlets.

Administrators do not need to install any Exchange Server management or migration tools to use remote Windows PowerShell. However, administrators' computers must be running the Windows Management Framework 3.0, which contains Windows PowerShell v3 and WinRM 3.0; and Windows .NET Framework 4.5. These components are already installed on computers running Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012. Administrators can manually download these components for computers that are running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2.


To help prevent denial of service (DoS) attacks, you're limited to three open Windows PowerShell connections to your Exchange Online organization.

Self-service capabilities for Exchange Online

Below are important capabilities that are available for managing Exchange Online by using the EAC, remote Windows PowerShell, and other tools. Many other settings can also be controlled with these tools, as described throughout this document.

Mobile device security policies for Exchange Online

Exchange Online supports the same ActiveSync policies for mobile devices as Exchange Server 2013. Administrators can enforce and customize these security policies for specific users and groups by using the EAC or remote Windows PowerShell.

Message tracking for Exchange Online

Message tracking via the Delivery Reports feature is described in the following topic: Reporting features and troubleshooting tools.

Usage reporting for Exchange Online

Administrators can use remote Windows PowerShell to retrieve information about how people in their organizations use the Exchange Online service. Available information includes:

  • Showing the mailbox size for each user in the organization.

  • Displaying custom permissions that are set on mailboxes, such as delegate access.

  • Extracting data about mobile device access, such as which users are connecting through Exchange ActiveSync, what devices they are using, and when they last connected.

Remote Windows PowerShell cmdlets that start with "get-" can fetch data from the Exchange Online system. Administrators can export this information from Windows PowerShell in .csv format for advanced analysis or reporting.

For more information about Windows PowerShell cmdlets for use with Exchange Online, see Exchange Online cmdlets.

Auditing for Exchange Online

The audit logging feature is described in the following topic: Reporting features and troubleshooting tools.

Service and product upgrades for Exchange Online

Exchange Online customers benefit from periodic upgrades to the latest Exchange technology, including new releases of Exchange Server. These upgrades are made available at no additional charge, and ensure that customers are always using the latest Exchange software.

After a major version of Exchange is released by Microsoft, customers have up to 12 months to upgrade their service to the new release.

Feature availability

To view feature availability across plans, standalone options, and on-premises solutions, see Exchange Online service description.