As Microsoft's Exchange team gives user groups, administrators and customers a first look at Exchange 12, which is currently still being beta tested, concerns are rising about the extensive retraining and high costs that will be involved in moving to the new product.
Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., is talking to Exchange user groups around the country as well as giving a series of Web seminars on a range of topics related to Exchange 12, which is due in 2007.
These Web seminar topics include the improved Exchange Systems Manager, recipient management and permissions, and the management shell and scripting.
Attendees at some of those presentations report that there is both good and bad with regard to Exchange 12. On the positive side, they point to the new unified messaging technologies like the Outlook voice access and the integration to telephone systems. "This is very hot and very neat stuff," one attendee who asked not to be identified told eWEEK.
The Exchange team is also showing the new version of Outlook Web Access, and those who have seen it say they are impressed, not only by its richness but by its similarity in many ways to Outlook 12. The changes to the out-of-office assistant also make it a lot better, they say.
Another interesting feature in Exchange 12 is proxy access to SharePoint and file shares through Outlook Web Access. This allows users to click on a link in Outlook Web access from, say, a browser in a kiosk. The link will be a UNC share and Outlook Web Access will allow proxy access to that file from a Web browser.
But the down side is that there is no longer a user interface in Outlook Web Access to access public folders.
"So you have this great new feature [with which] to access all of your SharePoint content and file shares, but all of your public folders stored on Outlook 2003 or Outlook 2000 or Exchange 2000 or Exchange 2003 cannot be accessed through the Exchange 12 Outlook Web Access interface anymore," a user who has seen the feature told eWEEK.