Microsoft customers are being told not to expect the Exchange 2000 rollout until August or September, six to seven months after the 17 February release date of Windows 2000.
Doug Stumberger, product manager for Exchange Server at Microsoft, said the company's intention to release the product's final code to manufacturing by the end of June was on track, not delayed as some reports had stated.
"It could be customers are hearing the wrong dates, or that they're confused about availability over release to manufacturing," he said.
Stumberger also said that internally Microsoft was still marching toward a first half date with channel availability typically lagging the release of final code by five to eight weeks.
"Right now, the software is moving into the period of getting the bug counts down," he said.
Microsoft, which released the third beta version of Exchange 2000 in October, plans to release another beta before it ships the final code.
The newest version of Exchange is expected to be Microsoft's major effort in the so-called knowledge management software market.
One new feature in Exchange, called Web Store, brings together semi-structured data such as Web pages, Word document files and email data, in a new file system that is tuned for easy searching. Web Store is essentially a new file system, called EXIFS, which runs on Windows NT.
Like Office 2000, Web Store makes extensive use of Extensible Markup Language (XML) for sharing and categorizing data.
"Microsoft's technology strategy with Exchange 2000 and the Web Store is very good," said Tom Austin, an analyst with the Gartner Group.
"Microsoft is submerging the rich capabilities of those technologies into everything it develops. But what it hasn't figured out is the positioning, packaging and pricing. And Microsoft only has about 10 third-party developers, whereas Lotus has hundreds," he said.
One of that small band of developers recently unveiled a set of outsourced Microsoft Exchange messaging and email services called Qwest Managed Exchange Services. Qwest Communications said it will host Exchange Services in its Cybercenters outsourcing locations and will manage the Exchange environment for business users.
"We're looking at Microsoft Office Online for hosting," said Hugh Oakes, senior director of product development at Qwest.
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