Microsoft releases beta of Exchange Server 2007 and Forefront

Posted by Humphrey Cheung

Redmond (WA) - Microsoft has released new beta versions of Exchange Server 2007 and Forefront Security for Exchange. IT administrators can test out beta version 2 of Microsoft's famous email server program and the new Exchange-specific security gateway, Forefront Security. Exchange 2007 supports 11 languages and has new features such as continuous database backup, enhanced web access and voice access.

In an effort to react to hard-drive failures and data corruption, Microsoft has added a new continuous backup feature called "Local Continuous Replication" (LCR). The feature copies the database and log files to another hard drive on the same computer. Previously, administrators had to RAID out the hard-drives or set up Exchange clusters, but Microsoft says LCR is simpler and makes more sense for small to medium-sized businesses.

Outlook Web Access (OWA), Microsoft's web-based email client, will get a major makeover in Exchange 2007. OWA now looks and functions almost like the regular Outlook client. Email addresses are automatically completed after typing in the first few characters. Users can even view and set scheduling information for other employees in the web interface.

Outlook Voice Access could be the single most interesting feature of Exchange 2007. By calling into the server with their phone, users can access their mailboxes and review and change appointment times. Information is read off by the server with a text to speech engine, while the user can respond in normal voice to navigate the menus. Meeting times can be cancelled, moved or changed.

Even though the new Exchange 2007 will have built-in anti-SPAM and other security features, Microsoft is offering Forefront Security to further protect the server. It will offer five anti-virus engines to protect against viruses and worms. Enterprises have traditionally used corporate software anti-virus packages like Symantec's Norton for Exchange.

Microsoft expects both Exchange Server 2007 and Forefront Security for Exchange Server to be available in late 2006 or early 2007.

Related links:
Exchange Server 2007 beta 2 download
Forefront Security for Exchange Server beta download