Exchange 2010 distribution lists bring several new features and capabilities to email admins and users, with much more functionality than found in previous versions. While distribution lists have been a feature in Exchange since its earliest days, Exchange 2010 distribution lists come with a feature all distribution lists have needed since the lists were first conceived – moderation. The new version of Microsoft’s flagship mail platform also offers end users the functionality to create and maintain their own Exchange 2010 distribution lists, empowering users to help themselves while relieving some of the administrative or helpdesk overhead associated with lists.
Static Distribution Lists
Exchange 2010 static distribution lists are distribution lists that you create as objects within Active Directory Users and Computers, the Exchange Management Console, or the Exchange Management Shell. They are stored in Active Directory as objects (much like user objects or security groups). They are called “static” because their membership is not “calculated”, it is based on user accounts belonging to the list; an Exchange Hub Transport server can query a global catalog server for the members of a distribution list, and get a list of users in return. No further queries are needed. Of course you can change the membership, but you do that by adding accounts to or removing groups from the distribution list. Note that Windows security groups that are assigned an email address can be used as distribution groups too.
Dynamic Distribution Lists
Exchange 2010 Distribution Lists also include dynamic distribution lists. Dynamic distribution lists also count on Active Directory to determine membership, but rather than requiring an owner or admin to add users, it can calculate (and update) memberships based on some property within Active Directory. That can be the department, their location, or one of the Custom Attributes within AD. Membership is automatic if an attribute of a user object matches the criteria.
Users who are assigned as owners can maintain the membership of Exchange 2010 distribution lists themselves. They can use the Exchange Control Panel, accessible through OWA, as a simple interface to group management. Static distribution list membership uses a simple people picker approach, and dynamic distribution lists can be created or modified using drop downs for common attributes. Other users can use the Exchange Control Panel to add themselves to distribution lists. When a user adds himself/herself to a distribution list, open membership distribution lists process the add automatically. Owner approval distribution lists send an email to the owner, presenting them with a simple click to approve or deny link.
If you’ve ever created a rule to automatically move messages to a folder you never look at, you have probably wanted a distribution list to use moderation. Moderation of Exchange 2010 Distribution Lists means that an owner, or other moderator, must approve a message before it will be delivered to the rest of the members of the distribution list. This is extremely useful when you have distribution lists that contain all the members of your company, external users, or that can be emailed from outside the company. It reduces the inbox noise for all concerned.
With the new features of Exchange 2010 Distribution Lists, administrators will find list management easier to handle, and users will be able to take care of their distribution list needs themselves, making for a better experience for users and less overhead for admins. If you are still on an older Exchange platform, Exchange 2010 Distribution Lists are another great reason to upgrade today.