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Microsoft today released the first public beta of MS Exchange Server 2010 which forms part of the Microsoft unified communications family. As the first of many products (Microsoft Office 2010, Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, Microsoft Visio 2010 and Microsoft Project 2010 all to follow) which will form part of the 'next wave' of Office apps from Microsoft, much hinges on a good reception. So will Exchange Server 2010 deliver on the three-pronged promise of lowering communications costs, improving user productivity and transforming email archiving?

Available immediately for public download MS Exchange Server 2010 is the first server in a new generation of Microsoft technology built from the ground up to work on-premises and as an online service.

Highlights of the beta include:

Exchange 2010 provides organizations with the same enterprise-grade capabilities whether deployed on-premises or as a service, or as a mix of both. The new release simplifies the way organizations provide always-on communications and disaster recovery, meaning administrators spend less time managing their e-mail system. Exchange 2010 further improves performance running on lower-cost direct-attached storage, enabling organizations to dramatically reduce storage costs by up to 85 percent without sacrificing performance or reliability.

As e-mail volume grows, companies must address increasing compliance, legal and e-discovery concerns, but today, according to Osterman Research, only 28 percent of organizations currently archive their e-mail content. Exchange 2010 introduces an integrated e-mail archive. The new solution makes it easier to store and query e-mail across the organization using the Exchange software that organizations already know and use.

Basex Inc. recently estimated that the average number of corporate e-mail messages received per person per day is expected to reach more than 93 by 2010. In addition, businesses lose $650 billion annually in productivity due to unnecessary interruptions including those from e-mail (Basex, 2008). Exchange 2010, together with Microsoft Outlook 2010, provides more control over communications with features such as MailTips, Voice Mail Preview, Ignore Conversation, Conversation View and Call Answering Rules.

"Exchange 2010 ushers in the next generation of Microsoft unified communications software as the first server designed from inception to work both on-premises and as an online service," said Rajesh Jha, corporate vice president of Exchange at Microsoft. "This release raises the bar with new archiving and end-user innovations that will help companies save money and employees save time."

Exchange Server 2010 will become available in the second half of 2009. Microsoft Office 2010 and related products will enter technical preview in the third quarter of 2009 and become available in the first half of 2010.

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