Know the Difference between Exchange Server and Outlook

Shini Mohan | Modified: August 10, 2016 | Exchange Server, General Info, Outlook | 3 Minutes Reading

Most of the people who are not from technical background often get confused when asked about Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft Office Outlook. Though these applications work together in many cases, they are not similar. In the article, we will be discussing about the difference between Exchange Server and Outlook in order to simplify these two for better understanding.
Difference between Exchange Server and Outlook

What is Exchange Server?

Exchange Server can be defined as a collaborative enterprise server application that has been developed by Microsoft to run on Windows Servers. It serves various purposes such as email, calendar, contacts, tasks, data storage, web-based or mobile information access, etc. Since it has been designed in terms of business purpose, Exchange Server is mostly used in coordination with Microsoft Outlook to make use of Outlook’s features like ability to share calendar entries & Contact lists. It supports features like Outlook Web Access, Exchange ActiveSync, Retention, email archiving, sensitive content monitoring, Voicemail, etc.

What is Outlook?

Outlook is a desktop-based email client developed by Microsoft that enables its user to send or receive emails along with other functionalities. Different Outlook versions are there for both Mac and Windows system. Outlook is an email client that is available for use as a stand-alone application or as a part of Microsoft’s Office suite. In many organizations, employees configure their Outlook account with Exchange Server to provide access to Exchange Server mails and the contacts, calendar & task functionality. Outlook can also be integrated with Microsoft’s SharePoint platform for sharing documents, project notes, etc.

Difference between Exchange Server and Outlook

Some of the points that differentiate between MS Exchange Server and Outlook are as follows:

  1. Exchange Server is an email server while Outlook is an email client
  2. Outlook needs to synchronize their data items with the Exchange Server & this function of synching mails is called Exchange ActiveSync while MS Exchange Server is responsible for receiving or storing the emails that are sent.
  3. Outlook is an email program that is used to connect to Exchange System to check email/calendar entries. MAPI is a way for email clients to communicate with MS Exchange Servers.
  4. While using Outlook, user can retrieve their emails from the Exchange Server using POP protocol and if you are using Exchange Server email, MAPI/Exchange ActiveSync will give similar cloud-based synchronizing like IMAP.


Even though Exchange Server and Outlook functions together for better functionality, both of them are different in many aspects. The article has been aimed to clear doubts about the difference between Exchange Server and Outlook. It has given brief introduction on the MS Outlook and the Exchange Server. Along with it, some noticeable key points that differentiate both of them are explained.