While the world is abuzz with e-everything, the survival and continued popularity of faxes is a sound reminder that this reliable technology still has a place in today's increasingly digital and virtual world. I suspect that as long as we continue to work with paper documents, the fax machine (with its conceptual and operational simplicity) will continue to find a place in both the home and the office.

The development of fax technologies hasn't stopped, as this month's Buyer's Guide shows. Alternatives abound to help you more effectively create and manage information distributed by fax. All the products this month provide fax capability to Microsoft Exchange Server.

Most of these products are standalone fax servers or Exchange Connector options that require the vendor's fax server and integrate with Exchange Server and Microsoft Outlook. These products contain features that let you send email to fax machines, route faxes to your inbox, and receive faxes as email. Products supporting email-to-fax are becoming smarter and easier to use and contain features that recognize the file type of some attachments (e.g., Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents) and convert them to faxes. Some products support their own conversion engines and others support Microsoft's IPrint API, which lets a copy of the native application that you install on the fax server format the document for faxing. Unified messaging products provide one inbox for email, fax, and voicemail messages.

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