Windows Server 2012 Essentials and the Essentials Experience role build on the previous Office 365 Integration Module for Small Business Server 2011 Essentials. This option is now part of the core product (not a separate download) and provides a seamlessly integrated management experience on Essentials for customers who are using Exchange Online.
On top of the core feature set that was included in the Office 365 Integration Module for SBS 2011 Essentials, such as integrated user account management and automatic user password synchronization, Microsoft also made a few enhancements to make the experience better:
- Support for multiple e-mail addresses. Having multiple domains and/or assigning multiple e-mail addresses to a single user are common scenarios even for small businesses. Now it is finally possible to easily do that from within the Essentials’ Dashboard;
- Improved Office 365 domain configuration wizard. In the Office 365 Integration Module for SBS 2011 Essentials, administrators were required to configure Remote Web Access (RWA) when configuring a domain for Office 365, which caused a lot of confusion. For example, administrators had to provide an SSL certificate which was not actually needed by Office 365, but was required by RWA. Now these two have been de-coupled. Another improvement is the option to configure a different domain name for Office 365 and for RWA, allowing small businesses to continue to use the same free domain names like letsexchange.remotewebaccess.com for RWA on Essentials and a different domain name for e-mail in Office 365;
- Display mailbox usage information. The Office 365 tab on the Essentials Dashboard now shows the mailbox usage information.
To read the full article, please check my Managing Exchange Online using Server 2012 R2 Essentials Experience Role article series on MSExchange.org.