On April 15, 2009, Microsoft released a public beta of the next version of Exchange, Microsoft Exchange Server 2010. Previously known as Exchange 14, 2010 contains some big changes from 2007.
Most of Exchange 2007 appears to have been rewritten to better support large-scale deployments.
- Built-in archiving with retention policy and e-discovery support. Many 3rd party vendors who have built a business upon Exchange Archiving solutions have reason to be concerned. Coupled with Microsoft’s own Exchange Archiving Online, these 3rd party solutions appear to be going the way of the dodo…
- On-premise or Online? How about both….depending on the organisation’s requirements, the on-premise solution will integrate seamlessly with Microsoft Exchange Online.
- Policies for big business – There’s a centralised policy definition and management system. This is based on mainstream regular expression pattern matching and simple boolean logic, applying to message content and metadata, and for users and groups of users. Polices can be enforced manually or through user intervention. The policy framework is used in a variety of contexts, such as for data leak prevention, rights management, determining what is archived, and retention policy.
Other improvements that will have users and administrators looking pleased are;
- Windows Mobile experience steps ever closer to being the same as the desktop via Outlook.
- Anti-error/embarassment features with “MailTips,” users are automatically warned about potential faux pas when an an email is about to be sent, such as when a distribution list will cause it to be received by a very large number of people, or when the email is so large it’s likely to bounce, or when recipients are out of the office.
- Cross-browsers support for OWA – now supports all the main browsers including Safari and Firefox, not just IE.
- Google-esque Conversation view – Email conversations are much easier to manage via the updated Conversation View.
- Voicemail previews – Text previews are generated of voicemail in Outlook, OWA, and Outlook Mobile. This saves a lot of time when quickly scanning through voice messages.
- External Diary Access – Free/busy times can be exchanged with outside parties, not just internal colleagues, with due privacy controls.
- Press 1 to leave me a voicemail – User-customizable voicemail menu hierarchies.
- Much reduced I/O and much more flexible storage options. Continuous replication over WANs is now practical, and provides much faster recovery for damaged message stores. There is generally better resilience in case of system failure.
- Much faster mailbox moves; can be done while users are online, during regular business hours.
Microsoft points out that a number of these features help address the age old problem of mailbox overload, such as MailTips, Voicemail previews, the conversation management tools, the call answering rules, and the rich and consistent Windows/OWA/mobile experience. All of these are welcome and good developments.
However, don’t expect email overload to go away.