Exchange 12 Beta comes out

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Okay, so I am out and about on the road up in DC but this didn't fall off the radar – Exchange team finally put out a press release announcing the features that will be included in E12. The good news is that they released all the features they promised at Barcelona IT summit a few months ago. I blogged about that event and even had some video on the demonstration of the new Outlook Voice Access and unified messaging. The bad news is that this press release comes short of everything coming with E12. I don't blame them, they are just PR monkeys that rephrase someone elses ideas but if you read the press release you'd be hard pressed to find anything that we do not have today or have been promised for a long time. More up-to-date IMF, stable antivirus API, bigger mail store, accessibility via mobile and secure mobile management, attachment filtering. All things you have (or should have) implemented already. The two lines that I find the most important are:

– A unified messaging system delivers voice mail and faxes to the Exchange inbox where, like e-mail, they can be accessed by Outlook, Outlook Web Access, mobile devices, and any phone through Outlook Voice Access with speech recognition. – A scriptable, command line shell saves IT administrators countless hours by allowing routine and repetitive tasks to be automated. Based on Windows® “Monad,” the code name for the next version of the Windows command shell, it includes capabilities above and beyond the Exchange System Manager.

Why are those interesting? Well for one they start the convergence of Outlook as the default communications medium. Currently Outlook "relies" on other hooks into LCS, MSN Messenger, etc to extend its functionality. Those "hooks" or plugins make Outlook slow and in some third-party add ons introduce instability. Providing these as a core offering will mean easier administration, easier management and security, and more flexible platform for collaboration. E12 is a long away from now… but if you are on a 10 year server plan, what do you do to get ready today? Order a DVD-R with your server and make sure its 64bit. Everything else can be figured out later and spend the extra $$$ on ram if you'd like to figure it out fast. P.S. Please stop emailing me asking for a copy of E12 beta.

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