Well, the news seems to be filtering out: Exchange 2000 Server will slip into summer or even fall of this year. In fact, several trade magazines have reported this delay in the last 2 weeks. From my point of view, it’s not a big deal.

I should point out that Microsoft never promised to have Exchange 2000 available in February or March 2000. Initially, the first quarter of 2000 was the estimate for code complete (or Windows 2000—Win2K—plus 90 days). Code complete doesn’t always mean released, announced, and shipped. I think some of the hype around Win2K might have caused us to presume a simultaneous release of Exchange 2000. Release to manufacturing (RTM) might not happen until June or July, and the announcement, launch, and shipping of Exchange 2000 might not happen until next fall (according to unofficial rumors and reports by industry sources), coinciding with Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC) 2000 in Dallas or could be as early as June at Tech Ed 2000.

A summer or fall release of Exchange 2000 would not be disastrous for several reasons. First, don’t we have enough to do once all our Y2K freeze periods end? Many organizations delayed projects until late January or February 2000 because of Y2K fears. When these freezes end, we’ll be busily playing catch-up. Second, Win2K will be a huge change—most organizations can use the extra time learning, testing, and piloting Win2K and the Active Directory (AD). I know that’s what I’ll be doing. In fact, I’m relieved that I’ll have some extra time to spend learning Win2K before Exchange 2000 hits the streets. My guess is that you’ll need the extra time too. Finally, I think that a fall launch and release of Exchange 2000 is better timed with the maturation of some hardware technologies such as Storage Area Networks (SANs). These technologies need time to catch up with and solidify on Win2K so that the wait for Exchange 2000 shouldn’t be a burden.

I realize that many of you have planned key projects around the release of Exchange 2000 and might need to delay those projects if the later release became a reality. However, the good news is that organizations developing key applications around Exchange 2000 can expect the code to be relatively stable as early as February. My guess is that Microsoft will work closely with these organizations to ensure that they can deploy these projects nearly on schedule. After all, Microsoft wants to encourage customers to do the things many of these projects will demonstrate. If you can afford to wait for the later release, I think it’ll be a good thing for all of us. In the meantime, take advantage of the extra time to get more familiar with Win2K.