Messaging Options Multiply

Ximian rolls out open-source e-mail client; Microsoft enhances Exchange with Service Pack 2.

As Microsoft Corp. bolstered its proprietary messaging platform with the release last week of a new Exchange service pack, Ximian Inc. introduced an open-source alternative for the desktop.

Exchange 2000 Service Pack 2 upgrades Outlook Web Access to provide more complete mobile access to e-mail and calendar functions.

Ximians Evolution 1.0 provides a host of collaboration and information management capabilities, including an e-mail client, calendar, task list and contact manager.

Evolution 1.0, available now for free, features a threaded mail view, automatic message indexing and contextual views. It includes features typically found in other messaging software, including the ability to handle text or HTML formats, as well as embedded images and attachments. It also supports user- defined filters, address recognition, and security and encryption standards.

Although Evolution runs on Linux and Unix, it connects to other messaging systems through support of standard messaging protocols, including SMTP, POP (Post Office Protocol) and IMAP (Internet Messaging Access Protocol), as well as LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol). This enables users to share calendar information with users of Microsofts Outlook and IBM subsidiary Lotus Softwares Notes e-mail clients.

Boston-based Ximian early next year will introduce Ximian Connector for Microsoft Exchange. This will make Evolution a full e-mail client of Exchange 2000, Ximian officials said.

Unlike Evolution, the source code for Ximian Connector will not be open. Connector will also carry a price tag—$69 per seat. A version for Exchange 5.5 is due in the first half of next year.

It will take more than a free client and the ability to make changes in the code to get Susan Nowicke to switch messaging systems. Nowicke, network manager at the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, said a change from Lotus Notes would be more work than it is worth on the face of it.

For current users of Microsofts Exchange 2000, Service Pack 2 adds multiple-day displays, including views of discontinuous days, to the Outlook Web Access calendar. It also adds meeting reminder pop-up windows, mailbox search capabilities, and the ability to view and edit distribution lists stored in the Contacts folder, according to officials at Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash.

Another new feature that Service Pack 2 adds to Exchange 2000 is support for migration of Exchange 2000 mailboxes between Exchange organizations, such as during corporate mergers or system architecture changes.

Exchange 2000 Service Pack 2 is available for free download.

Nowicke, an eWeek Corporate Partner, uses Windows 2000 but shuns Microsofts messaging software. "I dont use Outlook in the workplace and home because I dont want to attract hackers or viruses, and that seems to be a primary target," said Nowicke, in Allen Park, Mich.