Microsoft Exchange's availability set for December

Exchange 2007 shipping date later than release date

Development of Microsoft's Exchange Server 2007 won't be completed until sometime in December, and the software will be made available shortly thereafter even though the company plans to launch the server at an event in late November.

Microsoft officials have confirmed that Exchange 2007 won't reach release to manufacturing, or RTM, until sometime in December. Once that milestone is reached, however, the software will be available within a few days.

The official line from Microsoft had been that Exchange would ship by the end of the year or early in 2007.

But the company recently announced that Exchange 2007, which is now a 64-bit platform only, would be part of a launch event Nov. 30 in New York that also includes the long-awaited release of Vista and Office 2007. Those two will only be available to volume-licensing customers.

Availability for consumers won't come until Jan. 30, Jim Allchin, co-president of the platforms and services division at Microsoft, announced last week.

According to a note by Ferris Research analyst David Sengupta, Microsoft already has over 80,000 production mailboxes deployed on Exchange 2007.

The server features a new role-based architecture that supports functions such as remote client access, transport/routing, mailboxes and unified messaging. The current versions of Exchange give users two deployment options, front-end servers and back-end servers. Exchange also includes new clustering features, unified messaging capabilities, support for the PowerShell scripting language, improved ActiveSync technology for mobile devices and upgrades in Outlook Web Access and search.

In addition, users with Software Assurance maintenance contracts also will get multitiered malware protection with Antigen for Exchange, which is antivirus and antispyware software run locally, and online antivirus and antispam services offered through Exchange Hosted Services, which is the technology from Microsoft's acquisition of FrontBridge.

The company said the price for the Exchange Standard CAL in Exchange 2007 would be unchanged from its current starting price of US$67.

Microsoft likely faces a hard time pitching upgrades to many Exchange users given that nearly a quarter of its user base migrated off Exchange 5.5 in the past year. Those users are unlikely to break their upgrade cycles to undertake another expensive migration.

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