On June 16, 2000, Microsoft announced details of Exchange 2000 Server licensing and packaging. The company plans to license Exchange 2000 on a server- and client-access basis. In other words, you must have a license for every server and a Client Access License (CAL) for every client you operate. Because a CAL is simply a piece of paper, you can use it to connect your client to any version of Exchange Server. You don't need to install any software on the client PC to connect to Exchange Server, but you do need the CAL to ensure that the connection is legal. Microsoft plans to package Exchange 2000 in three major versions: Exchange 2000 Server, Exchange 2000 Enterprise Server, and Exchange 2000 Conferencing Server.

In addition, a future version of Microsoft BackOffice Small Business Edition will include a version of Exchange 2000. Microsoft is still working on pricing information for application service providers (ASPs) that plan to distribute Exchange 2000, but you can expect to see an announcement later this summer.

The announced prices for new servers range from $699 for Exchange 2000 to $3999 for Exchange 2000 Enterprise Server. Competitive pricing is available for companies migrating from products such as Lotus Notes.

Although licensing and upgrade arrangements differ from country to country, customers who previously purchased CALs through an Enterprise agreement will receive free CAL upgrades. Other arrangements, such as the BackOffice CAL Upgrade Advantage package, also result in free CAL upgrades. A new CAL costs $67, and each upgrade CAL is $34. Contact your local Microsoft office for details about specific upgrade arrangements and prices (including server upgrades and competitive pricing).

Exchange 2000 Release Candidate 2 (RC2) is currently available for download at http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/product info/orderkit.htm. The final version will be available later this year and will be the primary focus at the Microsoft Exchange Conferences (MECs) in Dallas; Nice, France; Singapore; and Tokyo. (The conference will take place in October and November.) For details about these upcoming events, including dates and registration information, visit Microsoft's corporate events Web site (http://www.microsoft.com/corpevents/mec 2000/).