Exchange update to push e-mail to mobile devices

Microsoft is readying direct push technology from Exchange to mobile devices in a preview of the e-mail server's next update.

New technology Microsoft will release Friday in a preview of the forthcoming Exchange Server update will push e-mail directly from the e-mail server onto Windows Mobile devices, according to company spokespeople.

This technology will allow Windows Mobile device users to have the same e-mail user experience now available on devices such as the BlackBerry from Research in Motion (RIM), said John Starkweather, group product manager for the mobile and embedded devices team at Microsoft.

The new Direct Push Technology will come in a Community Technology Preview (CTP) of Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 (SP2), with the full version of SP2 to be made available before the end of the year, said Martha DeAmicis, product manager for Microsoft's Exchange Server Group.

The push technology no longer relies on SMS (short message service) to notify a Windows Mobile device to retrieve e-mail from an Exchange server, Starkweather said. Instead, it sends e-mail directly from Exchange to Windows Mobile devices, giving users a faster and more efficient way of retrieving e-mail messages from Exchange.

RIM requires the use of middleware on top of Exchange to allow messages to be sent directly to BlackBerry devices, which costs businesses and end users extra license fees and resources to implement and maintain, he said. "With Windows Mobile, you can talk direct from Exchange to a mobile device with no server and no [extra] cost," Starkweather said.

One caveat with the new Exchange e-mail push technology is that it's dependent upon the inclusion of the Windows Mobile 5.0 Messaging and Security Feature Pack on devices. An early version of this software is currently in the hands of OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) that make Windows Mobile devices, but devices that come with the technology preinstalled will not ship until early next year, Starkweather said. However, customers will be able to buy Windows Mobile devices that can download the messaging and security feature pack starting around November, he added.

There will also be new security features in SP2 that will enhance the mobile e-mail experience, DeAmicis said. One of those is Web-based remote wiping of applications and e-mails on a device in case it should get lost or stolen, she said.

Other enhancements in Exchange Server 2003 SP2 that will be available in the CTP include spam protection improvements such as an intelligent spam message filter, and support for Sender ID, a technology that helps companies understand where e-mail is generated in order to block phishing scams.

The CTP of Exchange Server 2003 SP2 also will include a Mailbox Fundamentals feature with improvements to the way public e-mail folders can be managed and tracked, as well as an increase in the storage limit for Exchange Standard Edition customers, DeAmicis said.

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