Microsoft announced this week the immediate availability of its new Exchange 2000 Server products, including Exchange 2000 Server, Exchange 2000 Enterprise Server, and Exchange 2000 Conferencing Server. The announcement was made at the Microsoft Exchange and Collaboration Solutions Conference (MEC) 2000 in Dallas, where 6000 customers and Microsoft partners have come to celebrate the release. Microsoft says that 250,000 seats of Exchange 2000 are already in production, an unprecedented adoption for Microsoft's messaging products. And with this version, the company says, Exchange 2000 is the reliable, easy-to-manage platform for messaging, collaboration, and business applications that brings people and knowledge together.

"Customers upgrading to Exchange 2000 see immediate benefits such as improved scalability, reliability and manageability," says Gordon Mangione, the vice president of the Exchange Business Unit at Microsoft. "Since our own deployment of it, we have reduced the number of servers that host our 30,000 Redmond users from 35 to eight, while tripling average users per server to 3,000 and doubling the mailbox size." Microsoft recently announced that it had deployed Exchange 2000 internally before releasing it publicly, a show of faith in the new product.

In addition to serving email, Exchange 2000 brings a number of new features to the table, including a powerful new Outlook Web Access (OWA) client and a unified inbox that integrates email, instant messaging, fax, and voice mail communications. Exchange 2000 Conferencing Server adds features that enable users to collaborate from different physical locations without leaving their desks. For Application Service Providers (ASPs), Microsoft has also announced the Exchange 2000 Hosting Pack, which extends Exchange 2000 with a set of services for this crucial market segment.

The Exchange 2000 Server family is currently available in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish editions. Evaluation versions of Exchange 2000 Enterprise Server and Exchange 2000 Conferencing Server (but not Exchange 2000 Server, oddly) are available from the Microsoft Web site