Microsoft Moves Toward Exchange Server 2007 SP1

The preview includes increased support for Windows Server 2008 along with the No.1-requested feature, standby continuous replication.
Microsoft Tuesday announced details of Exchange Server 2007 SP1 and opened up a new test release to Microsoft Developer Network and TechNet subscribers, adding much-needed integration and support for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 into Exchange.

Though an older test release of the company's latest e-mail server product already was powering e-mail for more than 150,000 people, the new community technology preview is now feature complete, including increased support for Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003 SP2, and Windows Vista. For example, Exchange management tools now run on Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. The Vista support fills one of Vista's remaining holes in application compatibility, which has been one of the operating system's early troubles.

However, the number one feature request for Exchange Server 2007 SP1, according to Microsoft, was "standby continuous replication," a feature that enables an organization to do keep a hot copy of live e-mail data on a standby server in lieu of or in addition to implementing more extensive clusters of live servers. Mid-size organizations are demanding this so they don't have to pay for clusters, and enterprises want it for smaller sites, according to Microsoft group product manager Ray Mohrman.

Exchange Server 2007 SP1 also adds an array of other updates, including the introduction of IPv6 support, new features for Outlook Web Access, tighter integration with Office Communications Server 2007, a service pack for Forefront Security for Exchange Server that "increases filtering and scanning performance," new ActiveSync policies for synchronization, authentication, encryption, and smaller details like the ability to prevent Exchange ActiveSync-enabled mobile devices from taking pictures with their cameras.

According to a slide shown at the company's annual Financial Analyst Meeting last month, Exchange is a $1.5 billion annual business. Microsoft says more than 1,000 companies and about 3 million people total have switched from Lotus Notes to Exchange Server within the last year. The final version of Exchange Server 2007 SP1 is expected by the end of the year.

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