The Seattle giant said the new package will ease the management of e-mail users across an enterprise by closely integrating with the Active Directory in Windows 2000.
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Exchange 2000 Server is also a major piece of the .net architecture that will bring Microsoft into the collaborative computing arena.
Mat Hanrahan, an analyst with Bloor Research, believes Microsoft is moving closer to its rival Lotus in the capabilities it can offer businesses. "Lotus and Microsoft are on the same course, emphasising knowledge management, instant messaging, access to groupware and support for collaborative computing," he said.
Both companies have yet to unleash the full power of their systems, with Microsoft gradually shipping the .net elements towards the end of this year and Lotus pushing out its K-station portal, with the promise of the knowledge-gathering Discovery Engine, early next year.
One of the major changes to Microsoft Exchange is the integration of Active Directory, which allows users to be managed from a central point. This means that when a user moves departments or leaves a company, all e-mail services and other network permissions can be altered, moved or deleted without the need to check and alter each application.
The Exchange database, now called the Web Storage System, has been expanded to handle data relating to messaging, collaboration and Web applications.