Renaming an Exchange 2010 mailbox

One of my users left the company. The user's mailbox was used to send & receive correspondance from customers and employees at in the field. Instead of creating a new mailbox or public folder to serve the purpose this user's mailbox is currently serving , management has asked that I keep this mailbox in production however I change the name of it to something more generic. They also want me to keep the user's email address associated to this mailbox so that any new email coming to that user will still continue to flow into this mailbox.

My plan is to access the EMC>Recipient Configuration>Mailbox>User's Mailbox>Properties on the general tab change the display name and Alias to this new generic name. Which should change the name of the mailbox as well as make the new generic name the primary email address for the mailbox. I will leave the existing "User" email address under the Email Addresses tab > SMTP. Which should continue to allow email to that address to flow into this mailbox.

The question/concern that I have is that managament wishes to continue to use the AD account to login to systems as the user but how does changing the name/alias of the mailbox affect the AD account? Does making the change affect the AD account and the username/password used to login to our network in any way?
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Nathan PSystems ArchitectCommented:
I'd suggest changing the name in Active Directory to something more generic first, this way their log in details have nothing to do with the departed employee.  Update their Address/account tab's data while you're at it.

This may even change the 'display name' in Exchange.  (of course, the reverse may also be true, changing it in Exchange may apply the change backwards to AD.)  

The only thing you should need to do after that is to change the Alias, and add the new SMTP address in, making sure you set the correct one as a default.

There's likely no harm in you creating a mailbox with a bad name, and then changing it to a good name, and trying all this out for yourself before you edit a production mailbox.

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Microsoft supports changing the user name in AD.  This is done all the time in companies usually when women get married and change their name.  The name is just cosmetic as the real object in AD is tied to a GUID.  Just change the account name, first name, last name, etc.,  in Active Directory Users and Computers and then change the email address to whatever you want.  See these two articles for more information.  Create a test account to experiment with and when you are confident you have all the steps down, then change the real account.
My apologies, but I forgot to mention that we are using an externally hosted Exchange Server.  When we try to change the username on the externally hosted Exchange Server in Exchange Management Console, we get the error:

The value "jdoe@ARIAD.CORP" of property "UserPrincipalName" is used by another recipient object "TEST.CORP/Location/Users/Windows7/J Doe". Please specify a unique value.

Any thoughts?

Thank you to all who are contributing and sharing on this thread!
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