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MS to test Exchange 4.5

Microsoft is wasting little time introducing its latest innovations in messaging tools to the intranet market but Lotus is right behind.

With Novell's GroupWise 5 off and running, Microsoft (MSFT) is hurrying to begin beta testing its next-generation Exchange Server 4.5.

The update, which the company expects to ship before the end of 1996, will allow users to tap into the Internet, to send and receive email, and to launch a number of groupware applications. The tool is being improved to support the POP3, LDAP, and NNTP protocols. IMAP and HTTP protocols will be incorporated later. Its inbox will be accessible to an array of Web browsers to give users expanded Internet access through the email server, according to Microsoft.

Exchange 4.5 will feature person-to-person encrypted mail via the S/MIME protocol and offer a gateway to cc:Mail, GroupWise, and Netscape's Collabra Share messaging tools, the company said.

Meanwhile, Lotus Development will announce Notes 4.5 at the Networld+Interop trade show in Atlanta next week.

Microsoft, Lotus, and Novell are all striving to take client-server tools from the margins of corporate life and transform them into corporate necessities engaged in "mission-critical" work. They are focusing on improving the connection between email and groupware functions.

Common groupware applications include scheduling, document management, and document sharing.