Microsoft Opens Exchange Server 2016 to Early Testers

Customers can now test the next version of the email server and its hybrid cloud capabilities.

Microsoft Exchange Server 2016

Microsoft has issued a preview version of its upcoming Exchange Server 2016 software, the company announced on July 22.

Like many of the software giant's projects of late, Exchange Server 2016's development was guided by the cloud, according to Jeremy Chapman, a Microsoft director.

"Many performance improvements and architecture changes in the upcoming release of Exchange Server 2016—which is now available as a Preview to download—are based on our experience running Exchange Online at extreme scale," said Chapman in a statement. "Our software development process allows us to incorporate things we've learned in the cloud in the product releases that we deliver to on-premises customers."

Microsoft learned from its experiences running Exchange Online to help improve Exchange Server's reliability, he said. The software also sports a more streamlined server architecture that runs on lower-cost commodity hardware, along with improvements in connectivity, search and indexing, he added.

The Exchange group at Microsoft took to the company's blog to detail some of those enhancements. Overall, the lessons Microsoft learned running Exchange on its massive cloud infrastructure are being applied to a hardier, easier-to-manage email server, they claimed.

"Failovers in Exchange 2016 are 33 percent faster than Exchange Server 2013 due to the ability to read from the passive copy of the database," wrote the Exchange Team. "We've turned on Replay Lag Manager by default, which automatically plays down replication logs when insufficient database copies are available."

Exchange's automated repair capabilities were given a boost with the addition of database divergence detection, which is designed to "proactively detect instances of database corruption so you can remediate them well before anyone notices a hiccup," they explained. "To make operation of Exchange simpler, we introduced Get-MailboxServerRedundancy, a new PowerShell cmdlet that helps you prioritize hardware repairs and makes upgrades easier."

Users of the Outlook Web App, renamed Outlook on the Web, will notice snappier performance and a more mobile-friendly experience on tablets and smartphones. Exchange Server 2016 introduces a bevy of new user-facing features, including " Sweep, Pin, Undo, inline reply, ability to propose new time for meeting invites, a new single-line inbox view, improved HTML rendering, better formatting controls, ability to paste inline images, new themes, and emojis, to name a few," said the group.

The software will also make it easier for companies to extend their Exchange environments into the cloud, Microsoft claimed. "We're making the hybrid configuration wizard cloud-based, which makes it easier for us to keep it up to date with changes in Office 365."

Organizations can elect to manage their Exchange data locally while enlisting Microsoft's cloud for advanced security and information management. "Hybrid scenarios also enable you to leave all user mailboxes on-premises, while benefiting from cloud services that enhance your deployment—services like Exchange Online Protection; Exchange Online Archiving; Azure Rights Management; Office 365 Message Encryption, and cloud-based Data Loss Prevention," said the Exchange Team.

The pre-release software for Exchange 2016 is available at Microsoft's download center here.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...