Exchange 5.5 Gets Support Extension

Microsoft on Monday formally extended a major deadline for Exchange 5.5 Server support, removing what had been seen as a subtle threat to get users to upgrade more quickly to Exchange Server 2003.

Mainstream support for Exchange 5.5 Server had been scheduled to expire on Dec. 31, 2003. At that point, users would have had to pay for a contract to get Exchange 5.5 support until the extended support program runs out at the end of 2005. Now, Microsoft will offer the first year of extended support, through Dec. 31, 2004, for free.

"With this extension you have more flexibility to plan for your Exchange Server 2003 deployment within your own schedule and budget," a posting on Microsoft's Web site read.

One of the main enhancements for Exchange Server 2003 over Exchange 2000 Server is a more robust set of tools for migrating Exchange 5.5 customers to Exchange 2003. Microsoft clearly sees a sizable chunk of its Exchange Server 2003 revenues coming from Exchange 5.5 upgrades. But the timing of the Exchange 2003 release would have put enormous pressure on customers to perform a major upgrade in a short time. The move from Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2003 involves a jump to the Active Directory among other changes.

Exchange 2003 was released to manufacturing in late June and is available now to volume licensing customers. Its formal launch and retail availability are scheduled for the fall. Microsoft had originally been aiming for a spring or early summer release of Exchange 2003.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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