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Exchange incentives in the works, Microsoft says

To get more of the remaining Exchange 5.5 customers to move up to the newest version of its messaging-server software, Microsoft plans to increase the migration incentives it offers, an executive says.

As Microsoft marks one year since it released Exchange Server 2003, it is continuing its efforts to move customers off Exchange Server 5.5, the widely installed platform whose free support expires at the end of the year.

Company executives said about 40% of its Exchange customers were still running Exchange Server 5.5 at the start of 2004, with many planning to migrate this year. Microsoft won't know for a few weeks -- until

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it gets the results of an internal study -- how many have actually migrated so far, said Warren Ashton, a group product manager in Microsoft's Exchange business unit.

In the coming weeks, the software maker is expected to offer more incentives to get people to migrate from Exchange Server 5.5 to Exchange Server 2003, including more technical documentation to help them make the move, Ashton said. He didn't offer any specifics on the incentives.

Microsoft still hasn't

I like the idea of new spam-fighting tools, but I'm not really looking for an entirely new messaging solution.

Robert Bakker, consultant,

Cap Gemini

released a new Exchange roadmap following its strategic shift last summer away from a next-generation release that had been code-named "Kodiak." The next product expected from the company's messaging group is Exchange Edge Services, which is due out in 2005.

This SMTP relay, which is essentially a perimeter-protection device, will still include Sender ID, a Microsoft-co-authored protocol that was recently rebuffed by the open source community and others over intellectual property issues. The Internet Engineering Task Force standards body subsequently abandoned its efforts on the e-mail authentication specification, but Microsoft is undeterred. "It's still a big part of our investment," Ashton said.

While many customers welcome spam-fighting tools, others are still busy upgrading their Exchange servers to focus on newer versions of the technology. "We have 17,000 mailboxes, so I'm glad there is no Exchange 2004 coming out," said Scott Bueffel, a senior messaging administrator at CNF Services, a transportation company with headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. "This lets us finish our migration."

Robert Bakker, a senior consultant at Cap Gemini's offices in Utrecht, the Netherlands, agreed. "I'm not really worried about new versions of Exchange," Bakker said. "The functionality as it is now is doing what we need. I like the idea of new spam-fighting tools, but I'm not really looking for an entire new messaging solution."

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