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Exchange 2007 Service Pack Preview Ships

Microsoft announced Tuesday that it is shipping Beta 2 of the first service pack for Exchange Server 2007. With this beta, which is also being called a community technology preview or CTP, Service Pack 1 (SP1) is now feature complete, according to company officials.

Exchange Server 2007 shipped last December.

Among the new capabilities coming in SP1 is support for Windows Server 2008 -- which is set for official launch on February 27, 2008 -- as well as support for Windows Vista. That means Exchange Server 2007 SP1 will be able to take advantage of Windows Server 2008's support for geographically-dispersed clusters. SP1 will also run Exchange Server 2007's management tools on both Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008

The service pack will also feature increased support for the company's unified communications initiative, including the ability to retrieve voice mails from Microsoft Office Communicator.

New high-availability features include "standby continuous replication," wherein mailbox data is constantly replicated to a standby server. If the main server or the data center it resides in goes offline, the standby server is automatically started, according to Microsoft  statements.

"[That will provide] a hot standby server that's always up to date," Ray Mohrman, group product manager in Microsoft's Unified Communications group, told internetnews.com.

On the security front, SP1 adds support for new ActiveSync policies for synchronization, authentication, and encryption to let administrators better manage Exchange ActiveSync-enabled devices.

"[For instance,] you might not want cameras to be on, or you might want all e-mails encrypted," Mohrman added.

Additionally, Exchange 2007 SP1 will integrate with Microsoft Forefront Security Server SP1 for Exchange Server. The update of Forefront Security Server for Exchange will provide additional content filtering and scanning performance, as well as support for Windows Server 2008, according to the company.

Exchange Server 2007 SP1 -- as well as Forefront Security SP1 for Exchange Server -- is scheduled for release by the end of the year. SP1 Beta 2 is available to all MSDN and Microsoft TechNet subscribers.