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Microsoft beefs up Exchange 2000

The software giant today details new features in the upcoming release of Exchange 2000, code-named Platinum.

Microsoft detailed its latest development of Exchange 2000 software today, set for release in the first half of next year, that will make it easier to search disparate databases.

At its Exchange Conference in Atlanta today, Microsoft executives elaborated on new Web and database integration features in the upcoming release of the messaging and collaboration server additions to Exchange 2000, code-named Platinum.

This push into so-called knowledge management software is intended to provide a system for companies to easily view information from various sources--the Web, back-office applications, and databases for making business decisions. Microsoft's nemesis in this market--IBM subsidiary Lotus Development--has already established a presence in this software area.

As reported earlier, the newest version of Exchange is expected to be Microsoft's major effort in this market, which the software giant was at first reluctant to acknowledge as viable just as recently as a year ago.

One new feature in Exchange, called Web Store, culls semi-structured data, such as Web pages, Word document files, voice, and email data in a new file system tuned for easy searching. Web Store is essentially a new file system, called EXIFS, which runs on Windows NT.

Like Office 2000 and other next-generation Microsoft products, Web Store makes extensive use of Extensible Markup Language (XML) for sharing and categorizing data.

Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsoft, showed off the new version and said the third beta of the new server software for Exchange 2000 would be on customers' doorsteps today.

Web Store also gives developers--both corporate and independent--a more attractive platform that blurs the lines between data type for building better integration.

Microsoft said Web Store gives it a technological leg up on Lotus, which recently released Notes and Domino R5. Web Store also allows the company to better wed Exchange and its SQL Server database software into a single offering.

Platinum and SQL Server 7.0 allow users to query either structured SQL data or unstructured groupware information simultaneously. Data can also be replicated between Platinum and SQL Server, the company said.

"Knowledge workers are a company's most important asset,'' said Muglia in a statement. "Exchange 2000 is a cornerstone in Microsoft's knowledge management platform, providing powerful messaging and collaboration services for accessing and sharing information across an enterprise and its key constituencies, such as customers and partners.''