Microsoft Ships Second Titanium Beta

Messaging server, re-christened as Exchange 2003, features mobility, security enhancements.

Microsoft Corp. today announced the availability of Titanium Beta 2 and officially named the next-generation e-mail server as Exchange Server 2003.

The full release of Exchange Server 2003 and the Outlook 11 client that it works in tandem with is scheduled for the middle of this year, according to officials at Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash. It will proceed the spring release of Windows .Net Server 2003.

This version of Exchange features a new cached mode of operation that synchronizes user information in the background so that users can work from an updated local copy of their mailbox, even when disconnected. The Outlook 11 user interface has also been enhanced with search folders and an improved reader pane that provides 40 percent more information on screen than the preview pane in earlier versions of Outlook, Microsoft officials said.

There are improvements in MAPI, the protocol used for native communication between Outlook and Exchange, which will reduce the amount of network traffic between the client and the server, and compression of data on the wire. The MAPI enhancements will also eliminate the need to have a VPN connection when accessing Exchange remotely since users will be able to connect directly to Exchange with MAPI over secured HTTP.

Exchange Server 2003 features stronger, integrated support for mobility, including native support for wireless access with Outlook Mobile Access. It also provides support for mobile devices with iMode, cHTML and WAP 2.0 microbrowsers, as well as Windows Powered Pocket PC and SmartPhone devices. The Outlook Web Access client has also been enhanced to provide most of the capabilities of the full desktop Outlook client from a browser, and a similar user interface as Outlook 11.

Exchange Server 2003 will be deeply integrated with Windows .Net Server 2003, including integration with the Volume Shadow Copy services of Windows .Net Server 2003 to provide instant backup and restore of Exchange servers. Microsoft officials said Exchange administrators will be able to support greater numbers of users on a single server. Exchange Server 2003 will also take advantage of Windows .Net Server 2003s support for up to eight-node clusters, improving availability of Exchange.

Administrators of Exchange Server 2003 will get new deployment validation tools for Microsofts Active Directory directory service and the Active Directory Connector Wizard, to ease deployment of the upgraded server. Administrators will also gain more control of their Exchange environments from the Exchange Management Pack for Microsoft Operations Manager and a single point of administration for provisioning rights to Outlook, Outlook Web Access and Outlook Mobile Access

Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 along with Windows .Net Server 2003 will support improved security, embracing Microsofts Trustworthy Computing initiative. As another security enhancement, Outlook Web Access now supports the S/MIME security protocol for signing and encrypting messages and provides administrators with the capability to time out connections, thus reducing possible security breaches created by unattended browser sessions.

Exchange Server 2003 offers new junk e-mail message protection capabilities, including support for connection filtering based on real-time black-hole lists and dial-up user lists, inbound recipient filtering and spam beacon blocking.

Improvements to VSAPI, the virus scanning API in Exchange Server 2003, allow third-party antivirus vendor products to run on Exchange servers that do not have resident Exchange mailboxes (such as gateway servers or bridgehead servers) so that incoming messages can be scanned as soon as they enter a customers environment.