Microsoft Releases Exchange SP1, Updates Roadmap

By Dennis Callaghan  |  Posted 2004-05-25

Microsoft Releases Exchange SP1, Updates Roadmap

Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday announced the release of Service Pack 1 (SP1) for its Exchange 2003 messaging server, offering updates for e-mail security and administration.

Chief among the new features in this release is Microsoft Exchange Intelligent Message Filter (IMF) for Exchange Server 2003, which uses the SmartScreen heuristics-based content-filtering technology deployed at Microsoft Corp.s MSN and Hotmail services as another tool to screen out spam messages based on content. IMF is designed to work in combination with other third-party anti-spam products.

Also on Tuesday, Microsoft took another step toward blocking spam by announcing the merging of its CallerID for E-mail proposal with the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) specification.

Both efforts are designed to make improvements in SMTP to prevent spammers from "spoofing" or forging legitimate e-mail addresses as the return addresses of their messages.

Exchange 2003 SP1 also includes an updated virus scanning API for third-party antivirus software vendors to plug into. Version 2.5 of the virus-scanning API supports scanning for viruses within encrypted e-mails, Microsoft officials said.

This initial service pack includes a number of administrative enhancements, chief among them support for remote procedure calls over HTTP, so that Outlook users will be able to access the Exchange Server from the desktop client while working remotely without having to launch a virtual private network (VPN) client first.

Theres also a wizard interface designed to simplify recovery from storage and new foreign-language support for Outlook Web Access and Outlook Mobile Access.

Microsoft is making another move in this service pack to encourage upgrades from Exchange 5.5, a nearly 7-year-old version of the software that about 40 percent of the Exchange installed base continues to use.

Next Page: Microsoft also will look to provide technology that detects spam based on e-mail traffic analysis.

Spam Strategies

SP1 includes updated tools for managing upgrades from Exchange 5.5. The tools are designed to ease the process of removing remote Exchange 5.5 servers in support of migrating mailboxes to Exchange 2003 at companies with multiple sites.

There is also support for snapshot backup and improved deployment and troubleshooting tools in this release.

Next year, Microsoft plans to introduce Exchange Edge Services, which will include support for CallerID/SPF as well as other tools and techniques designed to stop spam, including IP safelist, presolved puzzle validity—a technology Bill Gates first talked about last year that would require sending servers to solve complex computational puzzles for each e-mail they send out.

Microsoft also will look to provide technology that detects spam based on e-mail traffic analysis, according to Kim Akers, senior director of Microsofts Exchange group, though Akers said how Exchange would support those technologies has yet to be determined exactly.

"These are technologies we have in development," Akers said. "Were taking the basic concept and figuring out how to implement them."

Beyond 2005, Microsoft will look to improve e-mail life-cycle management in Exchange, such as allowing customers to set a policy that automatically deletes or archives e-mails past a certain date, Akers said.

Other technologies on the drawing board call for Exchange to support Longhorn server, a 64-bit architecture, Web services interfaces and WebParts, the Web Services Security Common Engineering Criteria. Akers said Microsoft has yet to determine when these technologies would be supported.

Microsoft is also dropping the Kodiak codename from its next-generation Exchange release, which was to have been based on a future version of SQL, codenamed Yukon.

Akers said many of the features intended for the Kodiak release will be a part of future Exchange 2003 service packs instead.

"Because of changing customer needs, were bringing more functionality earlier to customers," she said. "So, were not carrying forward the Kodiak name."´

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