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Exchange add-ons show up already

Third-party vendors help Microsoft celebrate its release, finally, of the Exchange messaging server.

Three vendors will this week help Microsoft celebrate the release of its long-awaited Exchange messaging server by announcing search engines and other tools that will make it easier to get at Exchange data.

This week's shipment of Exchange follows nearly two years of delays. It replaces Microsoft Mail with a more reliable and scalable server application that also adds groupware functions like group scheduling and electronic forms intended to provide corporate users with an alternative to Lotus Notes. Microsoft has encouraged third-party vendors to add to Exchange's feature list, and FileNet, Verity, and Fulcrum Technologies are all complying with products to be announced at this week's Networld + Interop trade show in Las Vegas.

FileNet today announced FileNet Ensemble, a workflow application that is designed to complement Microsoft Exchange and its competitor from Novell, Groupwise. The product piggybacks on the Exchange and Groupwise messaging systems using email messages to link users to other employees working on the same project and route tasks and files through a company as they pass from user to user, department to department.

With FileNet Ensemble, users can select project participants, establish deadlines, and attach documents to email messages, the company said. The product also allows users to view the current status of a project, including outstanding tasks. FileNet Ensemble will be available in the third quarter and will sell for $295 per user.

Fulcrum and Verity, meanwhile, will announce strengthened Exchange search engines to let users find files stored on its servers more easily. Verity will today unveil TopicSearch, an engine that will make it easier for Exchange users to locate information in mail and public discussion folders stored on the server.

Exchange already includes basic search tools, but Verity's TopicSearch will let users search by keywords or concepts, according to analysts familiar with the company's product line.

"This goes a step beyond the simple searching mechanism in Exchange to allow very extensive searches," said Karen Moser, a senior analyst at the Aberdeen Group research firm.

Fulcrum will also show off its comparable Fulcrum Find, an add-on search tool for Exchange server that allows users to simultaneously search public folders, including attached documents. Pricing for Fulcrum Find was not available.

While Verity is starting with the Exchange engine in June, the company's ultimate plan is to provide a complete suite of search engines for all the applications in Microsoft's BackOffice. Verity is working on search engines for Windows NT and SQL Server database for delivery in the second half of the year, and a search engine for Microsoft's Web server, called Internet Information Server, is already available for free from Verity's Web site.

Verity will also include two groupware applications with TopicSearch for Exchange: TopicTeam, a conferencing application that lets workgroups collaborate on information in moderated electronic forums; and TopicWeb Organizer, a utility that lets users keep lists of favorite Web pages on both Internet and internal intranets.

TopicSearch will be priced at $395 per server and $49.95 per client. As part of a 90-day promotion, Verity will offer TopicSearch for Exchange with one server and five client licenses for $395.

At Networld + Interop, Verity will also announce alliances with WavePhore Newscast for bringing real-time newsfeeds to Exchange and Infoseek for linking to Infoseek Web search services from within Exchange.

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