Microsoft Prepping Exchange Upgrade - InformationWeek

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Microsoft Prepping Exchange Upgrade

Microsoft is shipping testers near-final "release candidate" code for Exchange Server 2000 and plans to package the software in two editions plus an add-on conferencing product, the company said today.

Microsoft is mailing its top 400 Exchange sites Release Candidate 1 of the successor to Exchange Server 5.5, and it plans to post the code on its Web site within a week. The E-mail and messaging server is scheduled to be released during the first half of the year, packaged as Exchange Server 2000 for midsize companies and Exchange 2000 Enterprise Server edition, which scales to accommodate companies with many thousands of users. The upgrade, which requires Windows 2000, introduces a new Web Store database that lets programs call messages using Internet protocols, making it easier for companies to deploy the system through a Web browser.

Microsoft will also release an add-on to the platform--Exchange 2000 Conferencing Center--that the company says affords IT managers more control over data, voice, and video conferencing on their networks. Pricing for the products isn't yet available.

Microsoft is bullish on the prospects for software such as instant messaging and online conferencing that enables real-time collaboration among workers, group product manager Stan Sorensen says. But most customers don't want to run conferencing software on the Exchange mailbox servers that contain key data and applications. "Typically, IT guys want to get mailbox servers running and leave them alone. They don't want to introduce code that puts them at risk," he says.

The Conferencing Center product lets companies write user- and group-based rules, as well as allocate predetermined network bandwidth to conferences in order to avoid quagmires caused by unchecked consumption of resources. It's compatible with a native browser client or with Microsoft's NetMeeting interface, which ships with Internet Explorer 5.

Microsoft says Exchange Server 2000 Release Candidate 1 adds instant messaging capabilities, better drag-and-drop behavior in the Outlook Web client, and improved performance and stability, compared with beta 3.

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