Microsoft Corp. today officially rolled out its long-awaited Exchange 5.0 server and client, dubbed Outlook.
The announcement, which was made over the Internet at CeBIT in Hannover, Germany, and at Internet World in Los Angeles, marks the company's first major entry in the intranet groupware realm with a competitor against Lotus Development Corp.'s Domino, or Notes Web server.
Also at Internet World, Microsoft announced and demonstrated tighter integration between Exchange 5.0 and Microsoft FrontPage and the Visual InterDev development environment, said Greg Lobdell, group product manager for Exchange. For instance, Exchange users will be able to access a "discussion" wizard in FrontPage and "discussion" controls in the InterDev environment. Threaded discussions in Exchange's public folders are the key groupware aspect of the server.
The Exchange server has also been refitted with important Internet protocols, including native SMTP/Post Office Protocol 3 support, Network News Transport Protocol, HTTP and LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol). The LDAP support will enable LDAP clients such as Eudora to access the Exchange Inbox. Outlook, in this incarnation, will access the Inbox via Microsoft's Messaging API.
The client, also part of the Exchange 5.0 server, is a group of ActiveX control scripts that users can download to browsers to access the server. Users can check out a trial version of the scripts and Exchange 5.0 server today via the Internet on the Microsoft Web site.
Officials said the next major upgrade of the server is scheduled for the second half of this year and will offer improved scalability and Internet Messaging Access Protocol 4 support.
Exchange 5.0 is available now. The Standard Edition of Microsoft Exchange is priced at $999 for a five-seat license, $1,329 for 10 seats and $2,129 for 25 seats. The Enterprise Edition, which includes the connector for Exchange 4.0 and X.400, costs $3,549 for 25 seats and $4,859 for 50 seats. An upgrade is priced at $349 (Standard Edition), $939 (Enterprise Edition) and $899 for 10 seats.