Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

Microsoft readies Exchange 2003 update

Perhaps the most notable element of the upgrade is the addition of tools for pushing e-mail messages to mobile devices.

Matt Hines Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Matt Hines
covers business software, with a particular focus on enterprise applications.
Matt Hines
2 min read
Microsoft on Friday will release a limited preview of its upcoming service pack for Exchange 2003, including its latest tools for pushing e-mail to mobile devices.

In a blog posting, Microsoft Senior Technology Specialist Harold Wong said the company will offer a so-called community technology preview, or CTP, of the Service Pack 2 update for Exchange 2003. According to Wong's posting, the release will be available only for use in lab or testing environments. As is typical with CTPs, the software will not be supported, but this type of release gives serious Exchange users a chance to check out the look and feel of the product.

Perhaps the most notable element of the upgrade is the addition of tools for moving e-mail messages to mobile devices, which will compete against products such as the messaging software offered by device maker Research In Motion for its BlackBerry handhelds. Microsoft is calling the effort its Direct Push Technology and said that the offering will represent a "huge leap forward in mobility capabilities."

Among specific improvements promised in the updated mobile software are new data compression tools, increased synchronization with the Outlook e-mail package and more advanced security controls. The preview will also offer optional support for certificate authentication systems, and tools for the use of Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions, or S/MIME, to sign and encrypt messages coming to and from mobile devices.

The intended result of the upgrades will be a more streamlined delivery of messages, which will no longer be dependent on short message service, or SMS, to make sure that a device automatically retrieves new e-mail from an Exchange server, according to Wong's blog. Utilizing the update, the software will use a hypertext transfer connection maintained by the device to push messages and notifications to the device. The technology will also work via Wi-Fi networks, Wong wrote.

To employ the push e-mail features, Microsoft customers will also need to run the software maker's Windows Mobile 5.0 Messaging and Security Feature Pack on their devices. The company said these will be made available at roughly the same time the Exchange service pack is released.

Additional improvements the company is promising in the release are stronger antispam tools--including a new version of Microsoft's Exchange Intelligent Message Filter, which offers new capabilities for fighting phishing attacks--and extended support for the Sender ID e-mail authentication protocol.

Updates to the Exchange 2003 mailbox include an expansion to 75GB of storage capacity, a new offline address book format, cache management that's intended to be more flexible, new controls for public folder administration and support for Novell's GroupWise 6x fax server software. Microsoft said it has also developed a Portuguese spell-checking system that it will bundle along with the update.