Are Exchanges Competitors Really Pretenders?

By David Coursey  |  Posted 2005-12-16 Print this article Print

Opinion: It's not surprising that Redmond spends little time worrying about Exchange Server's so-called competition.

There was a small ruckus created earlier this week when Microsofts Jeff Ressler said Exchange Server didnt face much of a threat from open-source competitors.

"We still worry more about Lotus than about the open-source providers, a lot of whom dont have a unified strategy [for trying] to try and address the bigger players in the market. There are interesting things happening with some of them, but they dont come up often in our competitive engagements," he said.
One of those who responded to the comment was my friend, Simon Phipps, Sun Microsystems Inc.s chief officer of open source, who told Ziff Davis Internet News that Suns Internet Mail Server is more advanced than Exchange and is the mail server of choice for many large enterprises.
"Numerically, we service more e-mail accounts than they do," he said. Service, huh? And its true, if youre a big service provider, the Sun server looks like the product of choice. You might even use their calendar server, provided you like Web interfaces or complex connections to Outlook clients. Click here to read more about Exchange competitors. So, of course, Microsoft Exchange Server has competitors. But, I think the average reader would have a pretty hard time naming any of them. On the other hand, heres a tip: If all you want is e-mail, there are many less expensive options than an Exchange server. Ive always appreciated the ability of Exchange to support e-mail access from different places using different copies, even different versions, of Outlook. Ive tried using POP and IMAP e-mail to accomplish this, but have never been able to make it work as well, or as easily. Outlook allows me to move around without having to worry about losing or missing messages, regardless of how many different computers I use during the day. That was reason enough for me to choose an Exchange Server as my personal mail platform, although I am vaguely aware that some Outlook pretenders, er, competitors may now offer the same functionality. My Exchange Server also makes it easy for me to schedule meetings with Outlook users both on my network and across the Internet. Next Page: Calendaring sets Exchange apart.

One of technology's most recognized bylines, David Coursey is Special Correspondent for, where he writes a daily Blog ( and twice-weekly column. He is also Editor/Publisher of the Technology Insights newsletter and President of DCC, Inc., a professional services and consulting firm.

Former Executive Editor of ZDNet AnchorDesk, Coursey has also been Executive Producer of a number of industry conferences, including DEMO, Showcase, and Digital Living Room. Coursey's columns have been quoted by both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and he has appeared on ABC News Nightline, CNN, CBS News, and other broadcasts as an expert on computing and the Internet. He has also written for InfoWorld, USA Today, PC World, Computerworld, and a number of other publications. His Web site is

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