I've been working on a testbed that will let me evaluate server-based software, including features such as synchronization. I'm happy to report that I finally got it working! My testbed is a "virtual server" using VMWare.

I'm running Windows NT Server 4.0 Service Pack 6 (SP6) and Exchange Server 5.5 in a window on my Win2K desktop, with a virtual network between the Exchange Server and the desktop. I know this setup is imperfect, but it lets me run a local server for test purposes without dedicating hardware to it. (I'll offer a more detailed account soon in Windows 2000 Magazine.)

I've tested Microsoft Outlook Mobile Manager (OMM), an extension of Outlook 2000 that performs fairly sophisticated email forwarding. As you select messages and mark or don't mark them for transmission to your mobile device, OMM actually *learns* and then follows the pattern you've established. OMM also includes a technology called IntelliShrink, which automatically removes excess white space and lets you abbreviate long words if you choose to do so. Although I'm not far enough along to wring out every OMM detail (a more thorough analysis is in the works), so far OMM looks quite impressive.

Beware of one catch, however: OMM works only if you have an Exchange Server as a back end, and that server must support SMTP forwarding. OMM is currently in beta, and an evaluation download is free.