64-Bit Exchange Server Makes Public Beta

Microsoft seems to be getting this right.

The company today released the first public beta of Exchange Server 2007, as well as a public beta of Forefront Security for Exchange Server. The new beta comes months after the company released another beta to a limited number of partners.

Based on initial feedback from developers during the first beta round, the company is confident it will be able to bring this product to market on time.

Given its recent history of well-publicized delays and missteps with other parts of its business, not least of which Office 2007, this is no minor accomplishment.

“We’re very happy that we’re on track,” admitted Megan Kidd, senior product manager for Microsoft’s exchange server group.

Kidd also said that Exchange Server 2007 is now feature-complete, putting it on the fast track for commercial availability.

“Based on the early feedback from customers and partners, we’re on track to release it by the end of the year or early 2007,” Kidd told internetnews.com.

As reported by internetnews.com, the solution has been designed around Microsoft’s plan for unified messaging, an approach that allows users to receive their e-mail, voice mail and faxes from their inboxes so they have one place to access for their information.

Exchange Server 2007 is based on 64-bit computing, a decision which was met by a great deal of skepticism. But Kidd said that customers and partners have been won over.

“It’s part of the natural evolution of where hardware is going,” she said.

Kidd said there seems to be a natural synchronicity between purchasing decisions for hardware and messaging solutions.

Microsoft added new functionality and enhanced existing features that mesh with the company’s current focus on enabling mobile workers, Kidd said.

For instance, Kidd’s team worked on improving Internet access to Outlook to enhance the productivity of workers on the go.

“So if you’re working remotely and you need access to your e-mail or calendar, we wanted to make sure it looks like Outlook itself,” she said.

Microsoft also added new security features to Forefront Security for Exchange Server, which has been commercially available as Antigen for Exchange since June.

Forefront provides advanced protection while minimizing hits to performance through the use of coordinated scanning across edge, hub and mail servers.

This feature ensures that the same message doesn’t get scanned more than once.

Paul Bryan, director of product management for Forefront security products, said that Microsoft has added management tools that give IT administrators a great deal of flexibility.

It also includes centralized controls, such as remote installation, engine and signature updating and reporting and alerts through the Forefront Server Security Management Console, Bryan said.

While Forefront allows administrators to deploy up to five antivirus engines simultaneously, offering protection against viruses, worms, phishing and other threats, administrators can choose whether to use all five, or to use performance biasing to achieve a balance of security and speed.

“This offers them the most protection and the least number of false positives,” Bryan told internetnews.com.

Bryan also said that Microsoft is still on target to launch Forefront client security for desktops and laptops during the fourth quarter of this year.

Antigen for Instant Messaging will be migrated to the Forefront brand in time for the release of Office Server 2007.

Exchange Server 2007 beta 2 is available for download here, and the Forefront Security for Exchange Server beta can be downloaded here.

Article courtesy of internetnews.com

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