TECH ED - Microsoft to kill 'Kodiak' code name

Microsoft Corp. will dump its "Kodiak" code-name that had been tagged to the next generation release of Exchange Server, instead shifting strategy to release individual improvements as they are ready, according to company executives in San Diego at TechEd 2004.

"The Kodiak name was used to represent a whole set of technologies. We will deliver those technology pieces not in a single release, but as soon as possible," said Kim Akers, senior director at Microsoft.

Pieces that were expected in the Kodiak release, which was due in the 2006 timeframe, include the forthcoming Yukon relational data store technology, enhanced security, mobility improvements, and 64-bit support, among other things.

First up in the accelerated release schedule will be Exchange Edge Services, expected next year as part of the Service Pack 2 release. Edge Services builds on the anti-spam capabilities in Microsoft's Intelligent Message Filter technology (IMF), providing additional security features such as content filtering, support for message caller ID (to prevent spoofing), and IP safe lists. Exchange Edge Services will create an extensible platform for third party vendors to build upon, according to Akers.

"Over last couple years the e-mail environment has changed significantly: We've seen a dramatic increase in viruses, spam, remote users and devices," Akers said. "Because of this changing environment and increased spam, we will deliver these components as soon as possible."

Also in 2005 as part of the same Service Pack, Microsoft will release a set of best practice analysis tools designed to help users analyze how they deploy and architect an Exchange environment.

Other capabilities on the Exchange road map include enhanced calendaring, e-mail lifecycle management features for regulatory compliance, mobility improvements, Longhorn server support, 64-bit support, bolstered Web services and Web Parts integration, and support for Windows Server System engineering criteria.

Turning the spotlight to the here and now, Microsoft here at Tech Ed unveiled several enhancements to Exchange 2003, including improvements to security, deployment, message filtering, and management.

On Tuesday Microsoft announced the availability of Service Pack 1, which is designed to bolster security, deployment, system management and productivity, according to Akers.

SP1 features an improved virus scanning API, which can now process encrypted messages. The main benefits for end-users are better protection against viruses, more server availability, and lowered TCO, Akers said. Another security enhancement is the addition of Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer for Exchange 2003. This tool aims to ease deployment by analyzing a configuration and identifying any security misconfigurations, Akers said.

Also included with SP1 is bolstered Exchange System Manager functionality and additional language support for Outlook Web Access intended to increase productivity, and remote access capabilities without the need for a VPN.

As expected, Microsoft announced the availability of its Intelligent Message Filter for all Exchange 2003 customers. Previously IMF was available only to Software Assurance customers.

"Given that spam is the number one (problem) to combat, we felt this was an important function" for all Exchange users, said Akers.

Based on Microsoft's SmartScreen Technology, IMF brings heuristics-based, server-side message filtering to Exchange. The anti-spam filter application is already in use in MSN, Hotmail, and Outlook 2003.

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