Microsoft officials on Tuesday said that a nearly-final version of its forthcoming Exchange Server 2010 e-mail server is now available for download for those users who want to kick the tires before the commercial version ships.
"Exchange Server 2010 Release Candidate is feature complete," said Exchange product manager Michael Atalla, in a blog post.
Exchange Server 2010 adds support for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2, including the 64-bit versions of those operating systems. The Release Candidate also offers tools that will allow users to perform an "in place" upgrade to Exchange Server 2010 RTM when the latter becomes available later this year.
"You can start planning and deploying your Exchange Server 2010 environment today knowing that it will be possible to perform an in place upgrade with the final version," Atalla wrote in his blog post.
"You won't need to reinstall your servers or reconfigure your Exchange settings once you have deployed the Release Candidate. This will save you time while allowing you to start evaluating the latest product capabilities now," said Atalla.
Atalla said that Exchange Server 2010 is able to co-exist with previous versions of the product, including Exchange Server 2007 and Exchange Server 2003. More than 10 million organizations and individuals have beta tested Exchange Server 2010 in the past several months, said Atalla. "This is testament to our commitment to bring rock solid, enterprise-ready products to market," he said.
Exchange Server is designed to work with Microsoft Office 2010, which ships in the first half of next-year. The two products are engineered to work in concert to give users a choice of traditional client-server e-mail and calendaring systems or a cloud-based setup that leverages the online capabilities built into the new versions.
"Exchange Online is getting a great reception from customers and is now used by more than a million people," said Atalla.
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