The Microsoft messaging faithful met at the Microsoft Exchange Conference ’99 (MEC99) in Atlanta this week to view the progress of the next generation of Microsoft Exchange Server, code-named Platinum and now officially known as Exchange 2000 Server. At the conference, Microsoft released Exchange 2000 Server Beta 3. From its humble beginnings as Microsoft’s mail server product, Exchange Server has evolved into a server for mail, calendars, newsgroups, and other collaborative computing features. With its next-generation product, Microsoft has emphasized several design goals for Exchange 2000 Server. These goals include enhancing the product's scalability, collaborative and integrative power, and single-seat management integration. Exchange 2000 Server will also expand on Exchange Server’s messaging capability. Microsoft is adding enhanced instant messaging, and multimedia messaging audio, video, and multicast teleconferencing. Microsoft officials have said that the new product will be scalable to tens of millions of users. Scalability features include an enhanced distributed architecture and clustering features. Scalability is part of Microsoft’s plan of attack for Exchange: The company wants Exchange 2000 Server to be fully capable for Web-based applications. Up to this point, Exchange Server has found success in internal messaging market companies seeking to provide messaging capability for their employees. Service providers, including free email services such as Hotmail, have traditionally looked elsewhere for their messaging servers. With Exchange 2000 Server, Microsoft will attempt to force its way into that market and push Exchange 2000 Server as the mail server of choice for ISPs and application service providers (ASPs). Exchange 2000 Server's Extensible Markup Language (XML)-based Web store is the crown jewel in Microsoft’s pro-integration, pro-collaboration push. It's one, remotely accessible platform that can store email, voice mail, files, Web pages, and more. You can access all the objects that you keep in the Web store through a URL using several protocols, including HTTP, SMTP, and Microsoft Messaging API (MAPI) or Server Message Block (SMB). The idea is that almost any program or device can access the data store, including Outlook, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), and browsers. Exchange 2000 Server will allow content indexing and searching across all the Web store’s varied contents. Microsoft also used MEC99 to announce that the company will ship a graphical workflow designer tool that works with the Web store. This product will integrate business policies into workflow schemes, and is separate from the current Grizzly workflow project associated with Exchange Server. Exchange 2000 Server will support greater wireless access to its messaging capabilities, with features such as wireless email access. Microsoft, of course, is pushing Exchange 2000 Server’s compatibility with Windows 2000 Server (Win2K Server). The company is emphasizing that Exchange 2000 Server will take advantage of Win2K's Active Directory (AD) features, which Microsoft claims will reduce total cost of ownership (TOC) for Exchange Server. Microsoft is also making sure that the new version of Exchange Server tightly integrates into Win2K's AD scheme. For more information about Exchange 2000 Server, go to http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/prodinfo/2000/InfoSheet.htm. You can download the beta or order a copy at http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/prodinfo/2000/OrderKit.htm.