Yesterday, Microsoft shipped public releases of both Exchange Server 2007 Beta 2 and the first beta version of Forefront Security for Exchange Server, formerly called Antigen 9.0 for Exchange. Exchange, of course, is Microsoft's enterprise-class email and messaging solution, and Forefront is a complementary product that provides protection against viruses, worms, phishing attacks, and other electronic threats using Sybari's multiple malware engine technologies.

Microsoft is taking a very measured approach to the way it both rolls out and communicates new features in Exchange 2007. You may recall that the Beta 1 release included the new roles-based deployment options, the new Exchange System Manager (ESM) console and Exchange Management Shell, AutoConnect, and some parts of Anywhere Access, such as the new version of Microsoft Outlook Web Access (OWA), Outlook Voice Access (OVA), and improvements to antispam functionality.

With Exchange 2007 Beta 2, we're seeing a more mature product that more closely resembles the final version that will ship late this year or early in 2007. Beta 2 adds a wide array of new functionality that hits across virtually all levels of the product. These features include local continuous replication, which works across different disks on the same server; cluster continuous replication, which replicates server configuration and settings and data to passive cluster nodes; and Automatic Server Updates. Intra-organization mail--be it moving server-to-server, to Microsoft Outlook, or to OWA, Exchange ActiveSync, or Exchange Web Services--is now encrypted by default, regardless of where the mail is being routed. Mobile users can now search for Exchange content over-the-air using a new generation of Windows Mobile devices.

As is often the case with its software, Microsoft is moving to Exchange 2007 aggressively. Even before the Beta 2 launch, the company began running a "dog food" build of Exchange 2007 internally, and by mid-June, more than 6000 mailboxes at the software maker were running this release. These employees included Exchange team members, of course, but also related teams such as Office. Everyone at Microsoft is getting 2GB mailboxes during the migration to Exchange 2007, I'm told.

Previously in Windows IT Pro UPDATE, I discussed the new Exchange licensing model, but it's worth noting that Exchange 2007 and Forefront for Exchange will ship simultaneously in late 2006 or early 2007, and will be available as standalone products or via Microsoft's volume-licensing programs. Customers who opt for the new Exchange Enterprise Client Access License package will also receive Forefront for Exchange. I have a lot more to say about Exchange 2007, but I'm out of space. Later this week, I'll publish a longer review of Exchange 2007 to the SuperSite for Windows.
http://www.winsupersite.com

VMware Speaks Up for Virtualization
Last week's commentary about the seemingly inevitable move toward Microsoft's virtualization technologies garnered a lot of thoughtful feedback. Clearly, it's time for the market leader to speak up, however. Next week, I'll publish details from a recent conversation I had with VMware President Diane Greene. She's not ready to concede the virtualization market to Microsoft, and she's willing to duke it out in the market place rather than the courts.