Microsoft on Monday released the first service pack for its Exchange 2000 messaging and collaboration server.
The most important aspect of Service Pack 1 is its support for the Windows 2000 Datacenter Server, according to Mark Levitt, an analyst at International Data Corp (IDC).
"There has been a clamor for Windows-based collaboration applications among service providers. Most have gone for Unix thus far, awaiting the arrival of a Windows platform that would meet their needs," he said. "With Datacenter support, finally there is a Windows option for service providers of all sizes."
And the service provider market could be increasingly important to enterprise users during slow economic times, as some companies turn to outsourcing for a cheaper solution for their messaging and collaboration systems, Levitt said.
"I think that there are bigger issues than the service pack. The migration from Windows NT to 2000 requires serious infrastructure changes," mainly to Active Directory, he said. "The timing of when to do that migration is important. Companies are dealing with cost-cutting and belt-tightening. If they had been delaying, they might be delaying [the migration] further. The economy could definitely hurt that."
The release also includes Outlook 2002 for Windows and Outlook 2001 for the Macintosh. There are also new migration tools in the service pack to help messaging administrators move users from multiple servers running Exchange 5.5, as well as systems from competitors such as Lotus Development Corp.'s Notes and Novell Inc.'s GroupWise, to one Exchange 2000 server, according to Microsoft spokesman Chris Baker.
Outlook 2002 also has increased security features, such as the ability to block Visual Basic script (.vbs) attachments by default. Such scripts are a favorite of virus writers.
The service pack includes an updated application programming interface (API) for its antivirus scanning tools. The new virus-scanning API, VSAPI 2.0, is already in use by some antivirus software vendors like Trend Micro Inc., McAfee.com Corp., Panda Software and Symantec Corp.
The VSAPI 2.0 performs improved scans of Internet content and delivers reports on the sender and receiver of a virus. Outlook can also notify users when foreign programs are attempting to breach their address books.
Also with Monday's release, Exchange 2000 Enterprise Server is certified on the Windows 2000 Datacenter Server.