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Analysts: Exchange E-Mail Dominance to Continue

Microsoft Exchange will maintain its dominance of the corporate e-mail market, an analyst firm said on Monday.

In its Microsoft Exchange and Outlook Market Analysis, 2005 - 2009, The Radicati Group forecast that Microsoft Exchange will increase its share of the insourced corporate messaging market, growing its installed base from 33 percent to 39 percent.

Microsoft will continue to increase its hosted e-mail business as well, Radicati said, with about 20 percent of all Exchange mailboxes being hosted by 2009.

Radicati principal analyst Marcel Nienhuis said Microsoft will grab share from Lotus Domino, the second-largest provider.

"We think Lotus has a confusing strategy," he says. While Lotus, which is owned by IBM , has plenty of users, according to Nienhuis, it seems intent on migrating them to the Lotus Workplace platform. "There's a lot of Domino and Notes applications these customers have written," he said, "and moving them to a new platform could be messy. A big chunk of customers will hang on to what they've got as long as they can."

Microsoft has faced a similar situation, with enterprises reluctant to upgrade their Windows operating systems. However, Nienhuis validated Microsoft's claims that Exchange 2003 has seen fast uptake.

The uptake is due in part to Exchange 2003's increased scalability and security, he said, but also to better support for hosting.

"Exchange 2003 increases the scalability, so a hosting company can put a lot more people on a server," he said. The product also allows for secure messaging over HTTP, making it a more flexible option.

In November, Microsoft lowered the barrier for its Service Provider License in an attempt to encourage smaller companies to consider adding Windows hosting services.

Nienhuis reserved judgment on Microsoft's next version of Exchange, known as Exchange 12.

In January, Microsoft revised its Exchange roadmap, without providing a ship date. It promised that Exchange 12 would increase collaboration, support voicemail and faxes as well as e-mail, and support multiple network devices. These so-called Edge Services were originally planned to be a separate part of the server line.

He said the most significant advance would be its roles-based architecture, which would let businesses only install as much functionality as they needed.

"The idea is to make Exchange deployment easier and more efficient," Nienhuis said. "It won't take months and months to install Exchange." Quicker deployments and more efficient management should translate to lower total cost of ownership, he said.

But Nienhuis said he wasn't completely sold on the success of Exchange 12, because Microsoft has begun talking about a new version to be delivered after the Longhorn operating system. "Customers have spent a long time catching up to where [Microsoft is] now," he said, "and there's still a good handful of people on Exchange 5.5 and 2003." He said customers will continue to catch up to Microsoft's roadmap and upgrade to 2003. "The next version will be enticing to some," he said, "but a lot of people will hang on to what they've got and wait for this major change to come."