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Microsoft prepares end users for next generation Exchange

Microsoft finishes its ‘train the trainer’ programme for Exchange 2000.

No sooner has Microsoft finished banging its drum about Windows 2000, than the Redmond software heavyweight is preparing partners and end users in the region for its next big punch: Exchange 2000.

As with W2K, the next generation of Exchange represents a major upgrade to 5.5, touting the platform as a comprehensive application development environment.

“Microsoft is now releasing a wave of server products that allow customers to take full advantage of [the Windows 2000] platform; the first of these is Exchange 2000,” said Bob Muglia, group vice president, business productivity group, Microsoft.

Exchange 2000 is currently in its release candidate two version (RC2) and Microsoft is claiming that it already has 2,500 IT professionals from global service organisations, lined up to test and deploy Exchange 2000.

In the Middle East, Microsoft has only just completed a subsided ‘train the trainer,’ programme with 30 partners.

Major Challenge

“These people will go out and train the channel,” Haider Salloum, division product manager, Microsoft Gulf & Eastern Mediterranean (GEM), told ACN. “This product is a lot more sophisticated than previous versions.”

However, how ready end users are to deploy Exchange 2000 is another matter. Implementing Windows 2000 has been a major challenge for end users worldwide, which have found themselves struggling to come to grips with a vastly more complex and demanding operating system, than previous NOS’ from Microsoft.

“Most of my large clients are looking at 2001 as the year to implement Exchange 2000, they are not ready for a paradigm shift, they haven’t digested the first one. [Windows 2000],” John Enck, research director, Gartner Group told ACN.

“[Users still] have to implement Active Directory, [and] they have to implement Exchange within the new architecture, they’re not even going to have time to even look at these projects until end of 2001 beginning of 2002,” Enck explained.

Network Map

The notion of ‘software fatigue’ is not one that Microsoft appears to recognise. According to Salloum, many local users have deployed Windows 2000 with Microsoft’s other server products in mind.

“A lot of end users still have to finish deploying Windows 2000, but they already want to upgrade to Exchange 2000,” said Salloum. “Many of them have done Windows 2000 work with Exchange in mind, they have mapped it to their network.”

Salloum went on to say that there are at least two organisations within the region that are testing RC2, and that intended to upgrade as soon as the final product becomes available.

One user that ACN spoke to this month, admitted that although he has heard of the benefits of the new Exchange platform, he was “still exploring the benefits,” of Windows 2000.

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