Microsoft admits Exchange users face delays with Windows .net

Windows .net, the next generation of Microsoft's NT server operating system, will be unable to run the company's flagship...

Windows .net, the next generation of Microsoft's NT server operating system, will be unable to run the company's flagship Exchange e-mail server when it arrives later this year.

Users expecting to move their Exchange 2000 installation onto Windows. net will be disappointed, admitted Barry Goffe, group manager for Microsoft's enterprise marketing strategy.

"Users running Exchange 2000 will need to keep Windows 2000 servers to run it," Goffe said. "Of the Microsoft server products Exchange takes the most advantage of the Active Directory (AD)," he added.

This is bad news for users as AD has been totally re-engineered within the Windows .net product. Users will now have to wait for the next release of Exchange, called Titanium, which is still in development and will not ship before the new operating system.

Garry Tugwell-Smith, Exchange product manager at Microsoft in the UK, said, "We haven't found a single customer who wants to run Exchange 2000 with Windows .net."

Given the work required to ensure compatibility with Exchange 2000,Tugwell-Smith added, "It made no sense for us [to support Exchange 2000 in Windows .net.]"

However, this lack of compatibility could give rise to integration issues between older Windows 2000 servers required to run Exchange 2000 and newer systems based on Windows .net.

The problem concerns the new Windows .net Active Directory, a core component of the new OS and the way servers, known as Domain Controllers, reside within a Windows .net infrastructure

Stuart Kwan, the group program manager at Microsoft responsible for the Active Directory, said, "[There are] a set of features within Windows .net that require upgrading all the Windows domain controllers [to Windows .net]."

In other words, to make the most of Windows .net, Microsoft urges users to upgrade their entire infrastructure.

With Titanium still many months away, users may be tempted to try alternative e-mail server systems.

Oracle is planning to introduce its Collaboration Suite, comprising calendar, real-time conferencing, e-mail, file system support, voicemail and workflow in one software package, by the end of the year.

The Oracle software could provide users with a viable alternative to Microsoft, especially where the desktop environment comprises non-Windows systems.

Another company looking to target disgruntled Microsoft users is Samsung, which has taken over running HP's OpenMail Unix e-mail product.

Now called Samsung Contact, the e-mail system runs on Linux and Unix. Richi Jennings, chief architect for Samsung Contact, said, "We are being approached by Microsoft users. They want something that is less expensive to buy and run."

Jennings claimed Samsung Contact offered more predictable pricing than Microsoft's stated licensing scheme for Exchange, as the server software is free and usage is charged on a per user basis.

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