New .NET Servers, Including IM Server
As a major contribution, Office System 2003 marks the introduction of Live Communications Server (LCS), a new server-based IM offering that the Redmond giant hopes will help kick-start corporate adoption of IM. Formerly code-named Greenwich, LCS will make it possible for admins to run their own enterprise IM networks, set IM security policies, and log and manage employees' IM usage.
Also at the launch, Siemens — one of Microsoft's 250 partners for Office System — demonstrated OpenScape Personal Portal in action, a new software product for integrated phone, e-mail, and IM communications from a single user interface. OpenScape works in conjunction with both LCS and SharePoint, according to Adam Moise, Siemens' Microsoft Alliance manager.
Some of the server products, including Exchange 2003, actually shipped prior to the Office announcement. At the same time as the Office launch, however, MS released the retail version of the new Exchange server. The retail product is targeted at the small to mid-sized business (SMB) market, a widely recognized NT holdout.
In a meeting at the New York City launch, Melissa Stern, Exchange's product manager, cited administrative improvements for Exchange that include new anti-spam filters, a partitioned message store, a new performance monitor for Outlook, Volume Shadow Copy Services (for "instantaneous backup and restore"), and more.
Exchange 2003 will run on Windows 2000 and Windows 2003 servers alike, according to Stern. By and large, though, the new features in Exchange will only work with Windows Server 2003.
Management 'Wins' from Desktop Improvements
Administrators could get some of their biggest wins out of client-side improvements. The new Outlook enterprise client — which comes with client-side caching for consolidating Exchange servers — is a good case in point.
One of Microsoft's SMB customers, Graphic Packaging International, now runs only on Exchange 2003 server, in place of its previous 16 Exchange 5.0 servers, Stern illustrates.
Nordea, a large bank in northern Europe, has used the latest Outlook client for massive consolidation of Exchange servers at the enterprise level, maintains Pinjo Tormanen, a bank spokesperson.
Meanwhile, for improved mail access from remote locations, Microsoft's Outlook Web Access client now contains most of the same features as the enterprise Outlook client, according to Stern.
Microsoft also plans to integrate Outlook Web Access with Hotmail's current backend by early next year.
Beyond OneNote, InfoPath, and the two overhauled Outlook clients, other desktop products in Office System include 2003 editions of Microsoft Office, Office Project, Live Meeting, FrontPage, Visio, Office Publisher, and the Microsoft Office Solution Accelerators.
During another interview, Stephen D. Tramarck, a senior engineer at Hewlett-Packard, contended that InfoPath will save time for database administrators by turning over certain management tasks to end users.