At the TechEd tradeshow in Dallas, Texas this week, Microsoft will unveil Exchange Server 2003 Release Candidate 1 (RC1), a near final build of the company's next generation messaging server, which will ship to customers later this summer. TechEd, historically a technical training event for IT administrators, will largely focus this year on Exchange and other so-called "iWave" products Microsoft aims at information professionals, including Office 2003, Windows SharePoint Services, SharePoint Portal Server 2003, and Windows Server 2003.
TechEd attendees can choose from over 60 technical sessions on Exchange Server 2003, including new features such as the new Exchange 2003 deployment tools, built-in anti-spam and anti-virus, new backup and restore options, clustering improvements, Outlook Web Access (OWA) improvements, and so on. Brian Holdsworth, a Product Manager on Microsoft's Exchange Server team told attendees of an Exchange Server 2003 reviewer's workshop Sunday that this release was a "rock solid messaging system," which emphasizes the same security mantra the company employed while developing Windows Server 2003. Like that product, Holdsworth said, Exchange 2003 is secure by default, by design, and in deployment.
Originally, Microsoft had scheduled a June launch for Exchange 2003 and Microsoft Office 2003, which includes the Outlook 2003 client for Exchange. But feedback from its partners convinced the company to delay the release of these products until late summer so that it could tighten up some features and improve fit and finish. To provide customers with an update, Microsoft will ship a free Beta 2 refresh for Office 2003 by the end of the month, the company tells me.