On Tuesday, February 22, Microsoft announced the availability of Exchange 2000 Server Release Candidate 1 (RC1) and Microsoft Exchange 2000 Conferencing Server, the newest member of the Exchange 2000 family of messaging server products. The goal of this next release of Microsoft Exchange Server is to provide better integration with Windows 2000 (Win2K) and be: - Reliable. Microsoft added both 2-way and 4-way active/active clustering with Win2K load balancing and failover services to Exchange 2000 Enterprise Server. - Manageable. Exchange exploits the Win2K Active Directory (AD) service using the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) interface and provides integrated network and messaging administration. - Secure. Exchange 2000 takes full advantage of Win2K security to ensure messaging and collaboration security, including using Win2K security groups to determine message routing and native use of ACLs to set permissions on any item in the Exchange Web Store. Exchange 2000 Server includes the features and functionality that medium-sized companies and branch offices need for messaging and collaboration. Built on the Web Store, Exchange 2000 Server includes a transacted data store; fault-tolerant, intelligent SMTP routing for better performance; a new Outlook Web Access client that allows faster access from a Web browser; instant messaging; and services for building workflow solutions that automate business processes. Exchange 2000 Enterprise Server offers a superset of many of Exchange 2000 Server's features. In addition, the Enterprise Server includes an unlimited, transacted data store that you can partition into separate physical databases for increased reliability and 4-way active/active clustering for higher availability. Exchange 2000 Server RC1 will be available free for download within the next week from Microsoft. RC1 will also be available via the Microsoft TechNet Plus and Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN). Exchange 2000 Conferencing Server provides data, video, and voice conferencing across intranets and the Internet. Conferencing Server includes the NetMeeting conferencing software client, which provides point-to-point and multiparty conference capabilities. Conferencing Server supports load balancing, failover, and control of attendee access to conferences. By allocating bandwidth for each conference technology provider, Conferencing Server lets customers run any combination of conferencing services simultaneously. It also provides integrated scheduling and management services to help maximize network bandwidth and availability—what Microsoft calls meetings without walls. "Exchange 2000 Conferencing Server gives our customers single-click access to multiparty audio, video, and data conferences," said Eric Lockard, general manager of the Exchange product unit at Microsoft. Lockard added, "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."