Exchange 'Titanium' Hits Beta 2

The Beta 2 release of the next version of Microsoft's Exchange messaging and personal information software was made available to the public on Monday. The long-awaited upgrade, code-named Titanium was also christened with an official title: Exchange Server 2003.

In order to push early adoption, customers may download Beta 2 free of charge. To ease the upgrade process even further, Exchange Server 2003 will coexist with Exchange 5.5 and Exchange 2000 environments. Although Microsoft has deployed Exchange Server 2003 internally, the company does not recommend utilizing the beta in a production environment.

New features in Exchange Server 2003 aim to improve productivity as well as security. A new cached mode will automatically synchronize data in the background, ensuring that users are always working from an up-to-date local copy of their mailbox. Microsoft has also enhanced MAPI, the protocol used for communication between Exchange and Outlook mail clients.

In addition to encrypted messages, Exchange Server 2003 adds new junk mail filtering and support for third party virus scanners.

"Our customers expect their communications infrastructure to do more than just reliably provide e-mail," said Microsoft's vice president of the Exchange Server business unit, Mohsen Al-Ghosein. "They expect it to be a consistent enabler of business value. That means increasing the productivity of information workers and IT staff, while reducing ongoing operational costs, and doing it with rock-solid dependability and enhanced security. The combination of Exchange Server 2003, the Outlook 11 client, and Windows .NET Server 2003 represents the most important and exciting end-to-end messaging solution yet for business customers."

Microsoft expects to ship Exchange Server 2003 and Outlook 11 -- part of Office 11 -- mid-year, following the release of Windows .NET Server 2003 this spring. Release notes and download information are available on Microsoft's Exchange Web site.

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