On Aug. 19, Microsoft is set to post for download a first CTP (Community Technology Preview) build of Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack (SP) 2, according to a blog posting from Microsoft senior Technology Specialist Harold Wong.
The Exchange team "has opted to release a CTP to provide the Exchange community with an early look at a product that has yet to be released [SP2]," a Microsoft spokesperson verified.
"The idea is for Exchange customers to get early access to SP2 so customers/partners can plan their own technology roadmap."
Microsoft is issuing CTPs in lieu of beta releases for SP2, the spokesperson added.
"With regards to a beta for SP2, Microsoft elected for a CTP focusing on the Exchange community that could better evaluate the technology. For questions about this technical preview, customers will be directed to the Exchange Server Newsgroups or the Exchange Team Blog. Customers of the CTP can submit questions via the Exchange Server Newsgroups for community support," she said.
CTPs are releases of code that Microsoft typically makes available in between full-fledged beta builds.
CTPs are typically not supported directly by Microsoft, but are aimed at developers and customers who want to be on the bleeding edge.
Microsoft executives have said that Exchange Server 2003 SP2, when coupled with the Windows Mobile 5.0 Messaging and Security Feature Pack, will provide a push e-mail solution that will trump the one delivered by RIM (Research In Motion) for its BlackBerry devices.
Microsoft is calling this push e-mail support "Direct Push."
Microsoft is playing up Direct Push as an alternative to SMS (short-message service) technology for automatic e-mail detection and retrieval.
"SP2 will use an HTTP connection, maintained by the device, to push new e-mail, calendar, contact, and task notifications to the device," according to the Microsoft Web site.
Direct Push also will work over Wi-Fi networks, Microsoft officials have said, and will make use of additional data compression to speed up message sending, retrieval and synchronization.