Microsoft recently announced the immediate and somewhat unexpected availability of Microsoft Exchange 2010 beta. Chris Capossela, senior vice president of Microsoft's Information Worker Product Management, announced that Exchange 2010 would be released to market in the second half of 2009. Also, details about SP2 for Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) 3.0 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS 2007) were recently announced. So there's lots to cover this week.
The Exchange 2010 beta announcement, the Capossela interview, and a post by Thomas Rizzo in the Microsoft SharePoint Team Blog had many interesting revelations about Exchange 2010 and other Office 2010 releases.
First, let's talk about Exchange, which is part of the loose-knit family of 2010-version releases and the Office family. Microsoft revealed that the beta of Exchange 2010 will be immediately available for download and that it will be released in the second half of 2009. One of the best parts of this announcement for me, in this age of ever-bloating product names, is that Exchange will not be called "Microsoft Office Exchange Server .NET 2010." In fact, Microsoft even quietly dropped "Server" from the name, so it's just Exchange 2010! Certainly more important are the list of features, some of the most significant of which are continuous replication and archiving. But I'll let the Exchange gurus such as Tony Redmond tell you more about the new features.
Microsoft also revealed that Office 2010 would be called Office 2010. Now that's a shocker, ain't it! The technical preview of Office 2010 will begin in the third quarter of 2009, meaning a beta release (pre-technical preview) must be just around the corner. The product will be released in the first half of 2010. The Office 2010 family will include Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, which also went on a product name diet and lost the "Office" from its name. But ahhh...the conundrum...Microsoft Search Server is already acronym-ized as MSS, so we are told not to refer to the new version of SharePoint as MSS 2010, but rather just "SharePoint." I can live with that.
Microsoft promises that the new wave of products will improve the user experience across PCs, mobile phones, and browsers, "to make it even easier for them to create, communicate and collaborate from any location." You'll be able to create and collaborate in real time using the web, phone, or PC. Part of this functionality will be through Office Web Applications, which Microsoft discussed at its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) last October and which deliver a very rich user experience. It's anticipated that there will be free versions of these apps through the Office Live (or Microsoft Live, or whatever they decide to call it) suite. Since Microsoft is promising increased parity between hosted services and internal services, you'd think there might be internal, server-based versions of the web apps as well.
According to Capossela, "Exchange 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010 give users the same value whether deployed on-premises, as a service from Microsoft and industry partners, or a mix of both." This is big news. Right now, Microsoft Online Services provides a subset of MOSS 2007 functionality. No Excel Services, no Forms Services, no Enterprise Search, no My Sites...basically just WSS plus publishing. With SharePoint Server 2010, you can have some of your functionality hosted in-house and some hosted by Microsoft, and the experience and manageability story will cross both scenarios.
A huge announcement (in my opinion) is that Exchange 2010 and SharePoint 2010 will now be accessible through Safari and Firefox in addition to Internet Explorer (IE). There will be much more exciting news about SharePoint 2010 over the next 2 to 8 weeks, so stay tuned. My opinion of 2010 is that Microsoft, under new pressure from competition and with solid leadership, is really doing a lot right with the new wave!
MOSS 2007 SP2
A recent post in the Office Sustained Engineering blog revealed that SP2 for Office 2007, including MOSS and WSS, will be released on April 28. SP2 will contain lots of bug fixes. It will also include some important changes in functionality, not the least of which is improved Firefox compatibility, which helps the current version of SharePoint move toward the 2010 wave in which both Safari and Firefox will be better served. SP2 also adds functionality to STSADM, which will help you scan your farm for readiness to upgrade to SharePoint 2010. I'll cover more about SP2 after it's released next week. Until then, read the Office Sustained Engineering blog for the scoop on SharePoint and other Office family improvements brought by SP2.