Microsoft's 'Titanium' Renamed, Beta 2 Released

By Ryan Naraine

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The test code for Microsoft's 'Titanium' has been released for general download under a brand-new name -- Exchange Server 2003, the company announced Monday. Microsoft said the test code for Exchange 2003, which is on schedule for release in the middle of this year, can be downloaded for evaluation as part of the Exchange Joint Development Program (JDP). Formerly code-named Titanium, Exchange Server 2003 touts messaging a collaboration between servers running on Windows .NET Server 2003 and Windows 2000 Server SP3 or later and with the latest beta 2 release to the general public, Microsoft is featuring tighter integration between Outlook Web Access and the Outlook e-mail client.

Exchange Server 2003 and Outlook 11 are scheduled to be released in mid 2003, following the scheduled spring release of Windows .NET Server 2003.

The Redmond software giant said the new 'Titanium' release, an incremental upgrade to Exchange 2000 Server, would also place a greater emphasis on security. "This enhanced security frees administrators from having to worry about locking down their systems, enabling them to install and run only those features that they require for their environments," the company said.

Additionally, Outlook Web Access would now supports the S/MIME, the new version of the MIME protocol that supports encryption of messages. By adopting the S/MIME protocol, Microsoft said IT administrators can time out connections to reduce the likelihood of security breaches created by unattended browser sessions.

Exchange Server 2003 also features new junk e-mail message protection capabilities, including support for connection filtering based on real-time black-hole lists and dial-up user lists, inbound recipient filtering and Spam Beacon Blocking, the company said.

Beta testers can also expect improvements to VSAPI, the virus scanning API that lets third-party anti-virus vendor products run on Exchange servers that do not have resident Exchange mailboxes (such as gateway servers or bridgehead servers). "This will enable the scanning of incoming messages for potentially harmful code as soon as they enter a customer's environment, and will reduce the operational impact on Exchange mailbox servers," Redmond said.

With e-mail management high on the task list for IT admins, Microsoft believes upgrading to Exchange Server 2003 and Outlook 11 will mean "greater flexibility and significant enhancements" that save time and ease management for IT professionals.

Exchange Server 2003 features a new cached mode of operation that synchronizes user information in the background, allows users to work from a local copy of their mailbox, regardless of the presence or quality of network connectivity. It also touts an enhanced user interface in Outlook 11, with search folders and a reader pane that provides 40 percent more information on screen than the preview pane in earlier versions of Outlook.

Microsoft has also enhanced the messaging application programming interface (MAPI), which is used for communication between Outlook and Exchange. Beta 2 testers can expect improvements in e-mail performance, due to a reduction in the amount of network traffic between the client and the server, and compression of data on the wire. The MAPI enhancements has been built to let users directly connect to their Exchange server over secured HTTP, avoiding the complexities of connecting to a corporate network when working remotely.

The new version of Exchange comes with native support for wireless access with Outlook Mobile Access and provides support for mobile devices with iMode, cHTML and WAP 2.0 microbrowsers, as well as Pocket PC and SmartPhone devices.