Microsoft today unveiled the unsurprising new moniker for its upcoming version of Exchange server, and also said that it will release the software's second beta version immediately.
Microsoft said Exchange Server 2003 will replace the code-name Titanium for the next version of Exchange. The beta will be the last before a release candidate is issued. Exchange Server 2003 is on schedule to ship sometime in mid-2003, after the release of .NET Server 2003 in April, said Jim Bernardo, product manager for .NET Enterprise Server.
Bernardo said that the second trial version contains the same features as the first beta, although Microsoft continues to refine the code. About 100 customers are currently testing the software, he said.
Microsoft has already upgraded about half of its own Exchange servers to Exchange 2003 and plans to have all of its own servers on the new software before it ships to the public, Bernardo said.
Bernardo said that there is an outside chance that Microsoft will improve on the server's anti-spam features before it ships, but he's making no promises. Exchange Server 2003 has the ability to connect to Blackhole lists and dialup list services, which are two types of services that help organizations trap spam.
"We are looking at whether there are additional technologies we can build and incorporate into the product," Bernardo said. "We still have a good window of time between now and mid-2003 to incorporate [features]."
The amount of spam reaching into corporate e-mail accounts continues to grow. A recent study released by Ferris Research, San Francisco, said that Spam cost U.S. corporations roughly $8.9 billion in 2002.
Of course the product's level of sophistication probably won't determine its success, at least not in the short term, analysts said. "I have no doubt that Exchange Server 2003 will be a good product," said Jim Kobelius, an analyst at The Burton Group, a Midvale, Utah-based consulting firm. "The real issue is there are too many versions of Exchange for customers to factor into their planning process."
Today most customers are still on Exchange 5.5 and Exchange 2000. Now they must also consider Exchange Server 2003 and Kodiak, a code name for the next major upgrade to Exchange.
"The problem is there are few compelling reasons to migrate," Kobelius said. "Customers are content with basic e-mail, calendaring and other functions of Exchange."
Customers may not have strong business reasons to upgrade, but Microsoft may be forcing their hands. Mainstream support for Exchange 5.5 will end at the end of 2003, so customers who want to continue using this platform will have to pay for additional support.
Kobelius said that he doesn't expect customers to begin their migration to Exchange Server 2003 until 2004 or 2005.
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