Exchange 2003 Released to Manufacturing

On the heels of its release
candidate of Exchange Server 2003, shipped earlier this month, Microsoft Monday released the
email client and server to manufacturing, signaling that it
will soon be generally available.

The company said customers can now order a 120-day evaluation kit and sign
up for an Outlook Web Access demonstration account. The product, formerly
code-named “Titanium,” is scheduled to be made available to
volume-licensing customers this summer and to become generally available
this fall.

The company also provided some visibility into its pricing and licensing
terms, noting that it will keep prices for Exchange 2003 at the same as
current pricing for Exchange 2000. “However, customers will be getting a
lot more value out of the product with improvements in scalability,
reliability and security as well as improvements in Outlook 2003, Outlook
Web Access and built-in wireless access (formerly provided by Mobile
Information Server 2002),” Microsoft said in a statement.

The product will be available in two editions: Standard and Enterprise. The
standard edition is geared for small- to medium-sized organizations, as
well as branch offices, while enterprise edition targets large
organizations with more complex deployments and scaling requirements.
Microsoft also noted that the release marks the first time the standard
edition can be used for a front-end scenario, allowing customers to deploy
Outlook Web Access without having to purchase the enterprise edition.

The company is also providing more options when it comes to licensing in
order to meet the needs of users who provide access for employees through
multiple devices. The new flexibility comes in the form of a per-user
client access license (CAL), which allows a single user unlimited access to
the Exchange server from multiple devices, including desktops, laptops,
home PCs and mobile devices. Companies that utilize shared PC environments
or kiosks also have the option of going with the Exchange Server 2003
Device CAL, which allows an unlimited number of people to access Exchange
2003 from a single device.

Companies will also need the Exchange Server 2003 Server License, which
grants the holder the right to install and use the software. Additionally,
they have the option of going with the Exchange Server 2003 External
Connector License, providing access to the Exchange server to an unlimited
number of business partners, suppliers, customers, retirees and alumni.

“Customers told us we had to deliver greater value with less complexity,”
said Mohsen al-Ghosein, vice president of Exchange Server at Microsoft.
“When an IT administrator deploys Exchange 2003 out of the box, it ‘just
has to work.’ Information workers need access to their inboxes from
anywhere and everywhere and they want the same performance and experience
as if they were sitting in front of their desktop.

After three years of
research and development, customers should have the confidence that we’ve
answered their call. Deployment and management will be easier with Exchange
2003, and implementation will be possible with the knowledge and experience
an IT administrator already has. And because IT can get Exchange up and
running faster and cheaper, Exchange 2003 enables a company to optimize
business processes and magnify productivity.”

Microsoft is boasting new deployment tools in Exchange Server 2003. The
tools are designed to help Exchange 5.5 customers plan and implement a
“smooth” upgrade while also maintaining the availability of their messaging
infrastructures. Part of the toolset is a set of analysis and reporting
tools intended to give customers an accurate picture of their existing
networks and Exchange 5.5 environment before beginning the Exchange 2003

On the Active Directory front, Microsoft said it provides the Active
Directory Migration Tool (ADMT) 2.0 and the Exchange Active Directory
Connector (ADC). ADMT 2.0 is designed to aid the migration to the Windows
Server 2003 Active Directory Service while ADC is intended to smooth the
path by enabling coexistence and replication between the Exchange 5.5
directory and Active Directory.

The upgrade tools also verify that each step of the installation process is
successfully completed before the next step begins, and they also offer the
option to perform multiple, simultaneous scheduled moves of Exchange 5.5
mailboxes to Exchange 2003. They also include a public and system folder
migration tool.

Microsoft said that in an effort to be flexible in meeting customer upgrade
schedules and budgets, it has designed the product so it can be deployed in
phases and can coexist with other messaging servers running Exchange 2000
and/or Exchange 5.5. It also noted that Outlook 2003, Outlook 2002 and
Outlook 2000 can work with Exchange 2003.

“Exchange Server 2003 features more powerful deployment tools than ever
before,” said Betsy Speare, Exchange release manager. “For example, new
wizards scan the network and advise if any patches or updates are needed
prior to deployment, so the administrator is less likely to encounter
problems. The architecture takes better advantage of the Active Directory
directory service for more power and control — without requiring
administrators to become experts in Active Directory. Microsoft Operations
Manager is easier to use with Exchanger Server, so administrators can take
better advantage of an extremely powerful tool for managing their Exchange

The company noted that more than 200 partners are already prepping the
delivery of Exchange 2003 solutions. Many of those partners are taking
advantage of Exchange’s new virus-scanning API (VSAPI) 2.5 and a new
antispam tool in order to build integrated security, antivirus and antispam
solutions for Exchange.

Microsoft said the new version, when combined with Microsoft Office Outlook
2003, will provide easier email and calendar management, faster
synchronization and easier Internet access. Outlook Web Access has been
redesigned to add new features which provide access to Exchange data
through most Web browsers. The product has also been equipped with built-in
support for wireless access.

News Around the Web