Microsoft Corp. will on Wednesday release the first beta of Exchange "12"—the next version of its e-mail, calendaring and unified messaging server—to a closed group of some 1,400 testers selected from its global customer, OEM, ISV and system integrator base. Although in January Microsoft canceled a version of Exchange that was due this year, Exchange 12 is on track for final release in late 2006 or early 2007, following the second, bigger beta test sometime next summer, according to Jeff Ressler, the director of product planning for Exchange.
Exchange 12 is also being put through its paces by a select group of customers and partners under a Technology Adoption Program. Those testers undertake production deployments and provide the company feedback, he said.
Ressler said Exchange 12 will bring with it better and enhanced control and productivity for IT administrators, expanded inbox access for end users, and increased security and compliance for organizations. "One of the biggest changes in Exchange 12 is that the architecture is based on five server roles, which componentizes or modularizes Exchange and thereby allows an administrator to choose which of those he wants to install per server. Some of these roles, like for unified messaging and edge transport, are optional, while the others, like client access, are mandatory," he told eWEEK.