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3/30/2007
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Idle Threat To Exchange

Exchange users, threatening to switch, may be blowing smoke.

Rumors of Microsoft Exchange's demise are exaggerated. According to a forthcoming Yankee Group report, 23% of Exchange customers plan to switch to open source e-mail within the next 18 months. A report summary calls the finding a "stunner" and an "ominous portent for Microsoft." It's also highly unlikely.

Even the report's author acknowledges a built-in fudge factor. "What people say in the heat of the moment, they won't always carry through on," says Yankee analyst Laura DiDio, recalling a 2001 survey in which 38% of respondents said they would ditch Windows, which never happened.

Those planning to switch think open source will be cheaper and easier to manage. The survey was completed by almost 1,000 IT managers and C-level executives, 65% of whom use Exchange. Microsoft is reserving comment until the report's release later this month.

Open source e-mail platforms include the Zimbra Collaboration Suite and Scalix, but there are trade-offs. Exchange 2007 includes integrated voice mail and e-mail, access to e-mail over the phone with voice prompts, and extensive security and access controls. Says DiDio: "You're not going to find unified messaging or integrated security or voice access for just as cheap in Linux."

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