Early this morning, Microsoft released Exchange 2007 beta 2, the first public beta version of Exchange 2007.
Get the bits (x86 and x64), the release notes, and read the documentation.
In addition, I’ve taken a look through the release notes and detailed the things I think are particularly noteworthy. You can see them on my blog.
This will be a big release, I think. There are some major under-the hood changes for Exchange, including:
The shift to Powershell and .NET technologies. These make Exchange easier to manage, so I think they’re good things, but a lot of people who are used to Exchange 5.5 are going to be in shock the first time they stare down a Powershell prompt and have to run a Set-ReceiveConnector cmdlet.
A completely new SMTP stack to play with — no more extending the IIS SMTP service.
The Edge server role can be securely deployed in a DMZ, reducing the reliance on ISA Server to create a secure yet supportable Exchange SMTP gateway configuration. And for those of you who think Exchange has no business being the SMTP gateway for the org, I have news for you.
Massively increased message hygiene capabilities and support. Deploying the Edge role means that you have the capaiblity to pull your users’ individual Outlook junk e-mail settings up to the edge and accept/reject messages on a per-user basis — all without making your firewall rules look like you loaded your shotgun with rock salt and took aim.
Opportunistic TLS! Yes!
AD topology-based routing, instead of the often overly-complex AG/RG topology.
Lots and lots of compliance and archival features — Managed Folders, Transport Rules, and more.
On the other hand, there’s a lot that hasn’t changed from the Exchange 2000/2003 world. You don’t have to ugprade directory services again! We’re still using SMTP as the default transport — no equivalent of the X.400/MTA to SMTP shift (in fact, X.400 support goes away!) You can still use public folders (although you’ll have to manage them from the command line or from the Exchange 2003 ESM as long as you have Exchange 2003 servers left in your organization) — but you don’t need them if all you use them for is system info.
Grab the beta, start playing with it, and don’t be afraid. This is a good step forward.