Exchange 2010 and Forefront Protection Released

Microsoft officials announced the public release of Exchange 2010 on Monday.

The announcement came in a keynote speech by Stephen Elop, president of the Microsoft Business Division, at the company's Tech-Ed Europe event in Berlin. Elop also described the rollout of Forefront Protection 2010 for Exchange Server, an enterprise security tool.

Both products are available for trial and can be downloaded at Microsoft's "new efficiency" solutions Web page.

Other Microsoft officials participated in the announcement, tying the launch of Exchange Server 2010 with the overall Microsoft product stack, including System Center, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

The new Exchange 2010 e-mail server was built from the ground up to work with Microsoft's "Software plus Services" strategy, according to Elop. Customers can use it as a service via Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite offerings, installed on the premises or they can adopt it as part of a hybrid deployment approach.

Exchange 2010 provides a common e-mail user experience across desktop, browser and mobile devices, Elop said. The common UI is made possible by the integration of Microsoft active sync technology, which is now supported by "every smart phone on the market," Elop said.

Another benefit from Exchange 2010 is the ability for organizations to move to larger mailboxes, Elop said. He cited cost benefits based on customer trials.

Microsoft's Exchange 2010 announcements came with a heavy dose of marketing. The Elop keynote and a subsequent Q&A follow-up with press brought forth three themes: "better together," "the new efficiency" and unified communications.

The company considers Exchange 2010 to be part of its unified communications product line, rather than an e-mail server, according to Chris Capossela, senior vice president of the Information Worker Product Management Group. He emphasized that the product has been broadly tested through educational institutions, with about 10 million students having used it over a year's time.

Microsoft also emphasized its "better together" marketing campaign, meaning that Exchange 2010 has synergy with other Microsoft products. Most of what Microsoft had to say here was about the integration of Outlook 2010 with Exchange 2010. Julia White, director of Exchange product management, described a number of features on stage at the event. Outlook 2010 lets users organize their e-mail chains and even ignore whole threads. Another feature warns users when sending messages outside the company. Outlook 2010 also lets users preview voicemails in text format.

IT pros can set e-mail policies based on Exchange 2010's integrated information rights management feature, which can do things like restrict the forwarding of sensitive messages. In addition the copy-and-paste function for e-mails can be disabled through rights management.

Elop mentioned that Outlook Web App, which provides an Outlook-like user experience in a Web browser, is currently supported on Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer. In addition, Microsoft has integrated presence and SMS text messaging functions into Outlook Web App.

Finally, Exchange 2010 was offered up as part of Microsoft's "new efficiency" marketing theme. In the Q&A with press, Bob Kelly, corporate vice president of infrastructure server marketing, described that theme as "with less, do more."

"It sounds like a marketing theme, but it's the new reality," Kelly said, alluding to the shrinking world economy and often static IT budgets.

Kelly mostly addressed the possible power savings with Windows Server 2008 R2. He also touted the benefits of Direct Access and BranchCache for organizations. Direct Access enables remote connections to an office without using a VPN, while BranchCache speeds up data access across company offices. Those features are available by combining Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7.

Tami Reller, corporate vice president and chief financial officer of Windows and Windows Live, emphasized the cost savings demonstrated by Windows 7's early adopters. She also claimed that Windows 7 testers had sent back mostly positive feedback. Microsoft had eight million beta testers of Windows 7, she said.

Microsoft officials floated various cost-benefit figures during the keynote and Q&A. Many of them come from two studies that Microsoft commissioned from Forrester Research, based on customer product trials. Those studies include "The Total Economic Impact of Microsoft Exchange 2010" (PDF download) and "The Total Economic Impact of Windows Server 2008 R2" (PDF download).

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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