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Exchange Beta Released

Exchange Server 2007 reached the next step in its lifecycle with a community technology preview (CTP) of its first service pack.

Microsoft announced yesterday the release of beta 1 of SP1, available to Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and TechNet subscribers. The service pack includes a great deal of added functionality, much more than is often seen in an SP1 release. Some of the upgraded features of SP1 include greater interoperability with the as-yet-unreleased Windows Server 2008, more integration with Office Communications Server 2007, a better Outlook Web Access experience and improved disaster recovery functionality.

Terry Myerson, general manager for Exchange Server at Microsoft, said in a press release that SP1 is being developed in concert with customer feedback.

"With the new service pack, we have zeroed in on several areas of investment that are important to our customers, including support for Microsoft's next-generation platforms and improved mobile device management," Myerson stated.

Windows Server 2008 is still in the beta 3 stage and not expected to ship until early next year, but the Exchange 2007 SP1 is already preparing to take advantage of its clustering technologies.

"Windows Server 2008 clustering will make it easier for companies to deploy geographically dispersed Exchange Server clusters," the release stated. Also improved are Exchange's management tools for use with Windows Vista and Windows 2008.

The big news on the security stage is Forefront Security for Exchange SP1, which beefs up security for the e-mail server. Forefront is Microsoft's suite of security offerings, and includes multiple scan engines to hunt down and root out viruses, worms and spam. Some of the mobile device upgrades include new Exchange ActiveSync policies, which should enhance mobile device security by allowing admins greater control over authentication, encryption and synchronization.

Microsoft touted Exchange 2007's growing adoption worldwide, with Myerson stating in the release that about 3 million users have moved from Lotus Notes to Exchange in the past year.

Exchange 2007 SP1 is expected to be available in the fourth quarter of this year, giving a short window for the beta testing period.

About the Author

Keith Ward is editor of Virtualization Review magazine. You can contact Keith at kward@1105media.com.

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