If you are serious about your business get Exchange.
But what does such a statement mean? Why do you need to get an Exchange server? What is an Exchange server?
Put simply, Microsoft Exchange is the engine that powers Microsoft Outlook. Many people use Outlook to manage basic email accounts - often free from their ISP or bundled within a hosting plan - technically referred to as POP3 or IMAP4.
These are not Exchange accounts and if this is what you use you certainly are not getting the full messaging experience.
An Outlook account powered by Exchange can do much more. If you want to share, collaborate, manage your time and messaging better then get it.
Email is more important in businesses than a phone but if you don't have a good email account, it will not feel like a good communications tool.
A good communications tool is always synchronised. Whenever you accept a meeting request through your mobile device, it will appear in your calendar on your desktop. If you change the time of a meeting from your desktop it will be reflected in the calendar on your recipients desktop. Email that doesn't do that creates more complexity rather than less.
It is not just the desktop client you get with the complete Outlook solution. Sign up for an account with Fair Broadband and get a copy of Outlook 2007, a web-based interface (OWA) that looks and does almost exactly the same, a light mobile interface (OMA) for when you're using a weak connection. When using ActiveSync or enabling the Blackberry service you will be as efficient at your desk as you are at home (and nobody will ever know).
One question remains - how do you get it? Some businesses have tried to host it themselves, others out-source it to hosting companies like Fair Broadband.
You should host Microsoft Exchange yourself if your business has highly trained, 24/7 operations personnel, 24/7 physical security, experienced Exchange administrators, an incredibly fast connection to the Internet, fully-redundant hardware, sophisticated backup and most of all tons of money.
As we said above if you are serious about your business you are focussed on your business. You did not attempt to setup your own telephone system - why try and manage the administration of the rest of your communications.
Finally, if you are serious about your business, do not use a Hotmail account, use Microsoft Exchange!
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