Microsoft Corporation on Tuesday announced a new member of the Exchange Server family, Exchange 2000 Conferencing Server, which was first revealed in WinInfo on February 12th. Additionally, Exchange 2000 hit a milestone this week, with the availability of Release Candidate 1 (RC1).

Exchange 2000 Conferencing Server allows "knowledge workers" to organize, manage, and participate in data, voice, and video conferences across any network, including the Internet. Conferencing Server, as a new member of the Exchange family of products, includes the NetMeeting conferencing client, as well as a suite to tools designed to allow users to easily reserve and allocate conferencing resources. Conferencing Server supports load balancing, failover, and attendee access control, as well as the ability to allocate bandwidth.

"Exchange 2000 Conferencing Server gives our customers single-click access to multiparty audio, video and data conferences," says Eric Lockard, the general manager of Microsoft's Exchange Product Unit. "And the great news for IT administrators is that this enhanced user functionality is accompanied by tools to help them easily manage their company's conferencing infrastructure and network bandwidth."

Meanwhile, the company also announced that Exchange Server 2000 hit the RC1 milestone, one of the final releases before the product is shipped to manufacturing. As reported previously in WinInfo, all Exchange Server 2000 editions are scheduled for release on May 17, 2000. Testers describe RC1 as a stable release, suitable for production-level testing prior to final product release.

If you're interested in evaluating Exchange Server 2000 RC1, please visit the Microsoft Web site. This site currently offers the Beta 3 release, but RC1 will be available shortly