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Microsoft plans update to Exchange 2010

Service Pack 1, due out later this year, adds features like easier archiving and discovery of mail, and improvements to Outlook Web Access program.

Microsoft on Wednesday announced the first details of a planned service pack to Exchange Server 2010, which will add several new features to the messaging and calendar server software.

In addition to the usual crop of tweaks and fixes, Service Pack 1 for Exchange 2010 will allow for better archiving and discovery of mail, improvements to Outlook Web Access, and better management capabilities, among other features.

Microsoft plans to make available a beta of the service pack in June with the final version due out later this year.

The improvements to Outlook Web Access bring back themes and the ability to move the reading pane, and also include performance enhancements like pre-fetching message content and allowing a user to do other things during time-consuming tasks like attaching a large file. On the archiving and discovery front, the update will allow improved multi-mailbox search as well as the creation of "retention policy tags" to better automate the deletion and archiving of data.

"Many of the improvements we are delivering in the SP1 are in direct response to the feedback you've provided since (the product was released)," Microsoft's Michael Atalla said in a blog posting. "I am excited about how, in a very short period time, we've been able to quickly respond and introduce these improvements and innovation to Exchange 2010."

Microsoft finalized Exchanger Server 2010 last October and released the product in the fall. Among other things, Exchange 2010 added support for a "mute" button that allows users to ignore a particular conversation thread. Here's a video I did last fall with Rajesh Jha talking about Exchange 2010--then code-named Exchange "14."