Microsoft pegs new Exchange release for 2006

Microsoft Corp. plans to release the next version of its Exchange messaging server in 2006, a company executive said Tuesday.

Microsoft had previously said that Exchange 12, the code name for the next Exchange version, would be out in 2006 or 2007. Andy Lees, corporate vice president of the server and tools business at Microsoft, in a presentation in San Francisco on Tuesday said the product is slated to ship in 2006.

Exchange 12 succeeds Exchange Server 2003, which Microsoft released in October 2003. The product will aim to help users cut costs, bolster security, and improve the messaging experience. Chief rival to Exchange is IBM Corp.'s Notes/Domino and the Java-based Workplace platform. Other competing products are sold by vendors including Oracle Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc.

One major improvement to Exchange 12 will be its role-based architecture, which Microsoft has said will simplify deployment and cut operational costs. Administrators will be able to configure Exchange 12 in six distinct roles using a wizard, Microsoft has said. The server roles are edge server, bridgehead server, unified messaging server, client access server, mailbox server, and public folder server.

Microsoft also is improving management with new scripting and user interface upgrades in Exchange 12, improving the search feature, and adding Web services APIs (application programming interfaces) and 64-bit support. Also in the works is continuous backup, a new replication feature that copies data from an active server to a passive server.

Microsoft is aligning development of Exchange 12 with the next version of Office, which is also expected out late in the second half of 2006. Other closely linked products that likely will be updated around the same time are Windows SharePoint Services, SharePoint Portal Server, Live Communications Server and Windows Mobile, Microsoft has said.

Lees spoke at a San Francisco event where Intel Corp. launched new high-end Xeon processors with 64-bit capabilities and discussed new dual-core processors coming next year.

Other Microsoft products due in 2006 that will support Intel's new 64-bit processors include the next version of Windows, code-named Longhorn, Commerce Server 2006, Host Integration Server 2006, BizTalk Server 2006, Virtual Server v2 and Microsoft Operations Manager, according to Lees' presentation. Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005 and Windows Server 2003 will support the processors this year, according to the presentation.

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