Users get Microsoft to blink first

If you've been putting off migrating from Exchange 5.5, breathe a little easier. Microsoft is going to cut you some slack.

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If you've been putting off migrating from Exchange 5.5, breathe a little easier. Microsoft is going to cut you some slack.

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Analysis
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Microsoft fired up a lot of people when it announced last fall that it would end free support for this version of its messaging platform at the end of 2003. With the deadline looming for users, it appears that Microsoft blinked first. Redmond announced this week that it will provide one more year of free support for Exchange 5.5. That would carry customers through the end of 2004. They will also now have the option of paying for an extra year of support for the product, which would end when the ball drops in Times Square to ring in 2006.

One suspects that Microsoft's decision was based on the fact that only a relatively small percentage of its installed base has migrated to Active Directory and Exchange 2000.

And why should they?

Administrators like Ibrahim Abdul-Karim from Delaware Investments in Philadelphia say that what they have works just fine, thank you. He told SearchWin2000.com's Margie Semilof, "The premise is if it's not broke, don't fix it, and if you've got a lot invested in the current release, and the next release won't give you that much advantage, you don't rush to change."

Fair enough. Users will eventually make the switch, but they want to do it on their timetables. This week's deadline extension just gives them a chance to make a better business case for writing Microsoft another check.

Redmond is also doing a little sweetening of the pot for its volume-license program. Microsoft Watch's Mary Jo Foley reported this week that customers who buy their Microsoft software through original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will now be eligible for the Software Assurance program. New benefits of that program include training for certain products, improved technical support on the Web and some corporate error-reporting tools.

For developers, there was news that they will have an opportunity this fall to get a taste of medium-rare Longhorn. The next generation of Windows is far from ready, of course, but a development kit will be released in October that contains sample code, which will hint at the major changes in store for Windows APIs and other features of the OS server software.

Elsewhere, International Data Corp. painted Microsoft's recent moves in voice over IP (VoIP) services and its partnerships with telecommunication companies as a sign that Redmond wants to be a telecom player. As evidence, report author Tom Valovic pointed to Microsoft's decisions to embed Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) into Windows XP and build its real-time communication software on SIP.

Valovic has stumbled onto an interesting trend, but it's more likely that Microsoft is simply making sure it plugs holes in its product line rather than making a bid to take on the likes of Cisco Systems and others.

And finally, will Sobig-F rear its ugly, spam-slinging head again? Just as administrators have finally gotten a handle on the fast-moving worm, experts are now warning that a new variant will try to download a mystery application over the long holiday weekend. So remember, drive safely this Labor Day weekend, and keep an eye out for worms crawling across your path.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Exchange 5.5 users get one more year of support

Microsoft preps more licensing concessions

Developers get first taste of Longhorn

Is telecom in the cards for Microsoft?

Companies wary of Sobig-F revival during holiday weekend

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