Look to late May for a bounty of new messaging tools from Microsoft, including the release of the IMF and the first service and feature pack for Exchange Server 2003.
The Intelligent Messaging Filter [IMF] will be released later this month, likely at Microsoft's TechEd conference in San Diego, said Edward Wu, a product manager for Exchange Server at Microsoft, during a Webcast hosted by the company.
Wu said Microsoft is still reviewing whether IMF will be offered only to customers with Software Assurance, as it was originally intended, or whether it will be made available to all customers. A decision is expected at TechEd, he said.
The software runs on Exchange 2003 and uses the same Smartscreen technology that was recently added to Outlook 2003, MSN and Hotmail. IMF uses Bayesian analysis to learn to identify spam, and considers the whole message, not just a few key words, to identify spam.
The messaging filter has been in a limited beta for several months. It will come as welcome relief to enterprise customers who continue to fight the deluge of spam that flood their corporate networks.
"No one is satisfied with the antispam tools available today," said Lee Benjamin, a consultant and chairman of the Exchange Server Boston User Group. "No vendor has a clear product strategy that deals with the problem."
Wu also said Exchange Server 2003 will see its first service pack at the end of May. The service pack will be released in two parts. SP1 will contain the bug fixes and a second Web release will contain the new features.
Benjamin said the careful distinction between the two is good news for customers. "There has always been this conflict with Microsoft putting the features in with the service packs," he said. "So if they start doing this as a matter of course, it's a good sign for customers."
Wu said Exchange Server SP1 will include some new deployment tools, including a cross-site migration tool, which should help IT managers who are consolidating their messaging server sites.
The service pack and Web release will also include additional foreign language support, an auto-accept agent, better archiving support, some new administrative tools, such as an improved RPC/HTTP setup tool, and an [IBM/Lotus Notes] migration tool.