Microsoft is finally providing specifics on the next version of Exchange.
Microsoft’s long silence on Exchange is over.
In January, Microsoft publicly laid out plans for the next release of Exchange. Microsoft is calling the next version "Exchange 12" or "E12." The code-names emphasize the close ties to the next version of Office, code-named "Office 12."
Usually Microsoft starts talking about the next version of a product as soon as, or even before, the latest version ships. But since Exchange Server 2003 went gold in June 2003, Microsoft hasn’t said much on the record about its successor.
The big problem is that Microsoft had to figure out what to do next with Exchange. Exchange 2003 was an incremental release, essentially upgrading Exchange 2000 Server to take advantage of some useful plumbing changes in Windows Server 2003. They included security improvements, eight-node failover clustering and Volume Shadow Copy services.
For years the company has been toying with the idea of taking the data store from SQL Server and porting it to Exchange, replacing the JET storage engine that the messaging server currently uses. The effort was code-named "Kodiak," a vaguely defined future version of Exchange that would use the new data store. The design goal reflected a wider, long-standing effort within Microsoft to standardize the data store across major products. Microsoft had ambitious plans to use the SQL Server storage engine in the next version of Windows, code-named “Longhorn,” and Exchange. Cracks in that plan emerged in June, when Microsoft said Kodiak was off the table. A few months later, unified storage, known as WinFS, was pulled from Longhorn, too.
The JET storage engine will power Exchange 12 just as it did Exchange 2000 and Exchange Server 2003. A Microsoft spokesperson downplayed the technological role in JET’s survival. "The decision to ship the next version of Exchange with JET was based on many factors, but the primary reason was customers. Staying with JET will mean customers will not be faced with the migration work associated with moving to a new store."
Customers have been unhappy with JET in scalability, high availability and developer hooks. JET is also old: Related to the JET engine used in the Microsoft Access database, it’s a generation behind the SQL Server engine. To address these issues, JET is getting a serious overhaul for Exchange 12.
First, JET is getting x64 support (AMD64 and Intel EM64T), to allow greater scalability. No word as yet on Itanium support, but unlike SQL Server, Exchange would probably get as much scalability benefit as it could use from the 64-bit extensions. Microsoft is leaning more and more heavily toward supporting x64 in many products, and company officials predict most new server chips will ship with 64-bit extensions within the next year.
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I’m surprised though about not hearing any information on Office Outlook 12 specifically, yes I read about the part concerning better integration with Outlook Web Access. I wanted to know what new features the Outlook client will bring to the user on the desktop.