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Configuring Microsoft Exchange Direct Push technology

Learn how Microsoft Direct Push technology works and find out how to configure and implement Direct Push in an Exchange 2003 SP2 email environment.

Microsoft Exchange Server has long had the capability of sending messages to mobile devices, but the SMS-based synchronization process was expensive and users did not immediately receive new email messages. In Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 (SP2), Microsoft introduced a new and improved synchronization technology called Direct Push that eliminates these issues. It also offers the ability to apply security policies to your mobile devices. In this tutorial, Exchange MVP Brien Posey explains how Direct Push technology works and explains how to configure and implement Direct Push in an Exchange 2003 SP2 email environment.

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Before SP2, Exchange Server 2003 would notify a mobile device that new email had arrived by sending it an SMS message. The mobile device would then initiate a synchronization with the Exchange Server to download the email.

There are several drawbacks to this approach to mobile-device synchronization:

  • Although rate plans with unlimited messaging are becoming more common, some cell providers still charge a per-message fee. If you multiply this fee by the number of messages that the average user receives in a month, and then multiply that number by the number of users who have mobile devices, you can see how quickly the service fees can add up.

  • With SMS-based synchronization, a mobile device must periodically check in to see if there are any new messages (the SMS message from the Exchange server is a response to the device checking in). How often mobile device users receive new email messages is completely dependent on how often their mobile devices are configured to check for new messages – i.e., users to not receive messages time-sensitive email messages immediately, as they arrive.

  • Frequent SMS-based synchronizations negatively impact the battery life of a mobile device.

To address these problems, Microsoft developed a new synchronization technology called Direct Push. Direct Push was originally introduced in Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2, but is also used in Exchange Server 2007. In this tutorial, all configuration instructions refer to Exchange 2003 SP2 Direct Push and Windows Mobile 5.0 and Windows Mobile 6.0 devices.


 Home: Introduction
 Part 1: How Microsoft Exchange Direct Push technology works
 Part 2: Configuring Direct Push technology on Exchange Server 2003 SP2
 Part 3: Configuring Direct Push technology on Windows Mobile devices

Brien M. Posey, MCSE
Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Exchange Server, and has previously received Microsoft's MVP award for Windows Server and Internet Information Server (IIS). Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once responsible for the Department of Information Management at Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, Brien has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit Brien's personal Web site at

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