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Controlling Exchange Online Mailbox Features with Mailbox Plans

When an Exchange Online mailbox is created in Office 365 it has all of the mailbox features and protocols enabled by default. This makes sense for the average Office 365 customer who doesn't want to fiddle with settings to get basic functionality like email on mobile devices to work. But it is less suited for enterprises that have specific requirements for mailbox features that their users should have access to. For example, a business might decide that POP and IMAP access to mailboxes should be disabled by default, and only enabled for specific cases.

For some time we've had access to configure mailbox plans for Exchange Online mailboxes. Each tenant has a pre-configured set of mailbox plans that you can see by connecting to Exchange Online with PowerShell and running the Get-MailboxPlan cmdlet.

There's been cases in the past where modifying mailbox plans was necessary to take advantage of new Office 365 capabilities. For example, two years ago Microsoft increased the maximum email message size for Exchange Online to 150MB, but kept the default maximum message size set to 35MB. To increase the maximum message size for your existing mailboxes you needed to run a Set-Mailbox command. To increase the maximum message size for newly created mailboxes you needed to modify the mailbox plan.

Now Microsoft is rolling out further enhancements to mailbox plans, per the Office 365 road map.

A limited set of configuration options are available for modifying mailbox plans, which we can see by looking at the parameters for the Set-MailboxPlan cmdlet.

Stripping out the non-generic parameters from the output above, we see that Set-MailboxPlan can be used to configure these settings for newly created mailboxes:

  • IssueWarningQuota
  • ProhibitSendReceiveQuota
  • ProhibitSendQuota
  • MaxSendSize
  • MaxReceiveSize
  • RoleAssignmentPolicy
  • RetentionPolicy
  • RetainDeletedItemsFor

There's quite a few more parameters listed on the Set-MailboxPlan documentation on TechNet, but most of them a reserved for internal Microsoft use. Whether more of them become available to customers in future is unknown.

Another cmdlet, Set-CASMailboxPlan, can also be used to pre-configure mailbox properties. While Set-MailboxPlan manages settings that are otherwise configured by the Set-Mailbox cmdlet, the Set-CASMailboxPlan cmdlet manages settings that are otherwise configured by Set-CASMailbox. This basically includes mailbox access options, such as whether specific mailbox protocols are enabled or not.

The parameters that are currently available for Set-CASMailboxPlan are:

Again, stripping out the generic PowerShell parameters leaves us with these options:

  • IMAPEnabled
  • OWAMailboxPolicy
  • POPEnabled
  • ActiveSyncEnabled

Many more parameters of Set-CASMailboxPlan are reserved for internal Microsoft use, including useful parameters like setting EWS block lists.

As with mailbox plans, each tenant is pre-configured with a set of CAS mailbox plans that you can view by running Get-CASMailboxPlan.

There is no IsDefault property for CAS mailbox plans, unlike mailbox plans. However the names and GUIDs match, and I assume that when a mailbox plan is assigned to a mailbox that the matching CAS mailbox plan is also applied. There is little sense in de-coupling the two.

As with mailbox plans, CAS mailbox plans take effect for newly created mailboxes, not for existing mailboxes. For example, let's take a look at the IMAP protocol status for the existing mailbox user Jane Tulley.

The IMAP protocol is enabled for Jane's mailbox. If we then set the CAS mailbox plan to disable IMAP, it has no effect on Jane as an existing mailbox user.

For a mailbox created after the CAS mailbox plan was modified, the IMAP protocol is disabled.

What this means is that you can use mailbox plans and CAS mailbox plans to control how your newly created mailboxes are configured, at least for a limited set of options. However you can't use mailbox plans to roll out broad changes to mailbox configurations. For that you will need to write your own PowerShell commands or scripts to make the changes to existing mailboxes. Also, mailbox plans can't be relied upon to re-enforce mailbox configurations to ensure they remain compliant with your organization's policies. For that you will need to write your own scripts to scan and remediate any mailbox configurations that drift away from your desired settings.

Paul is a Microsoft MVP for Office Servers and Services. He works as a consultant, writer, and trainer specializing in Office 365 and Exchange Server. Paul is a co-author of Office 365 for IT Pros and several other books, and is also a Pluralsight author.
Category: Exchange Online

2 comments

  1. Martin says:

    I was wondering lately if it is also possible to set Archiving to be enabled by default. This would be very nice 🙂

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