Q&A: Microsoft Readies Exchange Server 2007 Beta 2

BOSTON, June 12, 2006 – As market dynamics become more global and competitive, organizations increasingly seek innovative yet cost effective ways to grow their business and boost their bottom line.

Terry Myerson, General Manager, Microsoft Exchange Server

Microsoft views this situation as an opportunity to help businesses cut costs and gain strategic advantages by enabling organizational IT ecosystems to better serve their needs. One investment the company has made to help IT fulfill its ever-expanding role in today’s economy is with the upcoming release of Microsoft Exchange Server 2007. This new version of the company’s server for e-mail, calendaring and unified messaging will help business amplify the impact of their employees and drive higher levels of workplace performance.

Microsoft recognizes that today’s businesses are depending on the ability to seamlessly and instantly connect with colleagues, customers and partners, to gather and analyze information and take action. Exchange Server 2007 will help meet this need enabling access to communications, calendar and contacts, any time, any place.

To learn more about Exchange Server 2007 and key areas in which Microsoft has invested in the product, PressPass spoke with Terry Myerson, general manager of the Exchange Server group at Microsoft.

PressPass:  What is Exchange Server highlighting this year at Tech•Ed 2006?

Myerson:  We recognize the critical role that IT plays in addressing business challenges and have targeted our efforts accordingly. We are excited to announce that Exchange Server 2007 Beta 2 will be publicly available to customers and partners worldwide by the end of July.

With this version of Exchange Server, we have zeroed in on several areas of investment, including built-in protection to help ensure e-mail systems remain up and running and are very reliable. We have worked to provide management tools that reduce the cost of running messaging environments and, in general, make it easier for IT pros to operate more efficiently. We also have targeted the growing number of mobile professionals out there who don’t sit at a desk all day but still desire – and demand – access to everything they store in their inbox. These mobile features, along with other new enhancements such as Unified Messaging will enable these workers to access their data regardless of where they are located.

PressPass: What are these mobile features and how do they fit in with the role IT now plays in the workforce?

Myerson: Today, the nature of work is dependent on a workforce’s ability to connect anytime and anywhere in order to make faster and better business decisions. As a greater number of remote and mobile workers enter the industry, Microsoft recognized the need to create software solutions that simplify working together and provide closer connections with customers and partners at all times. New mobile features and additional functionality in Exchange Server 2007 are designed to address this pain point, and include ability to search on a device, self-service remote device wipe, support for HTML mail, message flagging, document access and improved meeting request handling.

PressPass: How exactly do these new features make life easier for end users?

Myerson: Let me give you a couple of examples, starting with support for search. Users

will be able to search and access all of the e-mail that resides on their Exchange Server 2007 using their handheld device. Previously, if you wanted to find an e-mail that was sent, say a month ago, you’d have to go back and search on your laptop to access it. Also, users now have the ability to erase sensitive data from their device in the event it gets lost or stolen. This way, users take control and are not reliant on their helpdesks or IT staff.

Another improvement is around how users deal with meeting requests. Exchange Server 2007 streamlines meeting scheduling by providing end users with more options when

responding to meeting requests from their handheld device. This includes replying to a message or forwarding the invitation to another person. Previously, you were only able to accept or decline a meeting unless you were working from a PC. With Exchange Server 2007, there is much more flexibility with what a user is able to do, and we believe this functionality will better equip people to handle on-the-job tasks while on the go.

PressPass: How does Exchange Server 2007 fit into Microsoft’s overall product strategy in the upcoming 12 months?

Myerson: At Microsoft, our goal is to make software that helps people work smarter and more efficiently. We’re excited that the innovations in Exchange Server 2007 are key components of this strategy.

As a company, we remain committed to connecting people seamlessly in order to make better, more dynamic business decisions; we are helping empower IT professionals, developers and end users, so they in turn can drive organizational – as well as individual – success. It’s an important part of our promise to IT Pros and developers to “Amplify the Impact of Your People.”

PressPass:  Speaking of IT pros and developers, how does the development of Exchange Server 2007 address their needs and the needs of the organizations they serve?

Myerson: Throughout the concept, planning and development phases, our team evaluates the complex needs and challenges of a number of audiences including IT pros, developers, organizations and end users.

For organizations, we realize that companies these days are dealing with more viruses, spam threats and an increasing number of regulatory and corporate compliance requirements. As a result, we’ve introduced built-in-protection, providing features such as automatic updates for anti-spam filters, block lists and reputation services to help deliver the first wave of functionality to help protect and secure their messaging environment.

For IT administrators, a need exists to drive higher levels of operational efficiency in managing their messaging system as workloads increase, along with ensuring they have the right tools to be as productive as possible on the job. Some key features we’ve introduced to address this need for IT administrators include a scriptable, command line shell based on PowerShell, saving IT administrators countless hours by allowing routine and repetitive tasks to be automated, thus freeing up IT to do more strategic tasks.  Additionally, significant usability enhancements were also made to the Exchange Management Console, the GUI tool used by IT pros to manage their messaging environment. By keeping these audiences in mind, Exchange Server 2007 increases productivity and enhances the overall quality of workplace performance.

PressPass: When will you be rolling out the final product?

Myerson: We’re still on track for release by the end of this year or early 2007.

Anyone interested in getting an early look at Exchange 2007 can pre-register at www.microsoft.com/exchange/preview . Once beta 2 is available, you’ll receive a notification via e-mail with instructions on where to download or have a DVD sent to that will also include video demos and hands on labs to familiarize yourself with the product.

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