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WinInfo Daily UPDATE, January 20, 2005

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In the News

- Microsoft Plots the Next Exchange Server Version
- MSN Launches Microsoft Office Outlook Live

==== In the News ====

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Microsoft Plots the Next Exchange Server Version

The next version of Microsoft Exchange Server, known internally as Exchange 12 (E12), will build on the many improvements Microsoft has made to Exchange Server 2003 since the company first released the product in late 2003. E12 will synchronize with a major update of Microsoft Office Outlook and Windows Mobile, both of which will be optimized for E12.
"With E12, we're making major investments in IT professionals, security, and information workers," David Thompson, corporate vice president in charge of the Exchange Server Group, told me this week. "Email is mission critical, and we want to manage the cost and complexity out of the system, provide a secure environment in which administrators can protect corporate assets and comply with regulations and policy, and enable end users to get more from email both at work and away from the office."
E12 will boast several major improvements over Exchange 2003. Taking a cue from Windows Server 2003, E12 will use a roles-based architecture that will let you easily configure Exchange machines as edge servers, bridgehead servers, unified messaging servers, client access servers, mailbox servers, or public folder servers. This simplified approach will also consolidate new messaging types--fax, Voice over IP (VOIP), and voicemail--into Exchange. E12 will also include an improved and simplified management console, provide for continuous backups, and expose functionality via Web services interfaces. Each E12 edition will be available in both 32-bit and x64-based 64-bit versions, Thompson said.
From a security standpoint, E12 will build on the Intelligent Message Filter (IMF) and antivirus functionality in Exchange 2003 and the Sender ID framework that will first appear in Exchange 2003 Service Pack 2 (SP2) in late 2005. The product will also add perimeter message hygiene functionality through its edge server features and will provide a secure messaging feature that will essentially establish a secure pipe across the Internet between E12 edge servers.
For end users, Microsoft will develop E12 in tandem with the next version of Microsoft Office Outlook, codenamed Outlook 12, and an upcoming version of the Windows Mobile platform, which powers Pocket PC and smart phone devices. These products will be released simultaneously, or nearly simultaneously, in 2006, providing a much better experience with each product. Microsoft Outlook Web Access (OWA), which was significantly improved in Exchange 2003, will also be broadly updated, and E12's unified messaging capabilities will make it more of a one-stop shop for messaging needs.
From a technical standpoint, E12 will continue to use the Jet database engine and won't use new database technology, as had been previously expected with Kodiak, a set of Exchange technologies that were originally to have been rolled into the next major release of Exchange. Although Thompson didn't get into the details of this decision, the near-constant delays in Windows Future Storage (WinFS) were likely at the heart of the decision. E12 does appear to hit at the core needs of users, however, and answer many of the complaints and problems customers have with the current product.
Before E12 ships next year, Microsoft will ship various mobility and antispam enhancements and an improved management interface for public folders in Exchange 2003 SP2. In addition, Exchange customers are advised to check out the many post-release to manufacturing (RTM) Exchange 2003 Web release tools that Microsoft has shipped, including the excellent Exchange Server Best Practices Analyzer. Functionality from that product will be rolled into E12 as well, I'm told.

MSN Launches Microsoft Office Outlook Live

This morning, Microsoft launched a new MSN subscription service called Microsoft Office Outlook Live that combines Outlook, the company's best-selling email solution, with MSN's Hotmail Plus email service. Microsoft Office Outlook Live, known informally as MOOL, gives subscribers a special version of Office through which they can access and share their Hotmail-based email, Contacts, and calendar.
"We're really excited by the collaboration between MSN and the Office team," MSN Product Manager Karen Muskops told me during a briefing this week. "Microsoft Office Outlook Live provides the power of both Outlook and Hotmail together in one place." MOOL marks the first time Microsoft has provided any of its Office applications to customers via download; the company has winnowed down the MOOL version of Outlook, dubbed Outlook 2003 for Subscription Services, to a 60MB download that broadband users should be able to grab in less than 15 minutes. MOOL also includes the Microsoft Outlook Connector, which lets Hotmail and MSN users access their accounts' email, Contacts, and calendar items via Outlook.
In addition to Office and the Outlook Connector, MOOL gives subscribers all the benefits of Hotmail Plus, including 2GB of email storage space and the ability to send 20MB of attachments per email. Designed for power users who like to simultaneously access work and personal email, MOOL lets subscribers view multiple calendars (e.g., Exchange Server and Hotmail) side by side in Outlook, letting them more easily compare work and home schedules.
MOOL will cost $59.95 a year but is available through April 19 for $44.95 for the first year. The product will initially be available to customers in Canada (in English and French), the United States, and the UK. My review of Microsoft Office Outlook Live will be available on the SuperSite for Windows later today.

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