Microsoft has officially released Exchange Server 2016, the next version of its widely deployed email server platform for deployment behind the firewall, but with the promise of bringing some of the cloud technology from Office 365 to a customer's on-premise environment.
Available to download now, Exchange Server 2016 builds and improves on the capabilities of the previous Exchange 2013, including Data Loss Prevention, Managed Availability, automatic recovery from storage failures, and a web-based Exchange admin centre.
Many of the new capabilities were showcased in a preview release of Exchange Server 2016, which Microsoft made available in July. These include deepened integration between Exchange and other Office products, a simplified architecture with additional recovery features, and the ability to manage email so that the most important messages stand out, Microsoft said.
"Email remains the backbone of business communication and the one that workers consider the most essential tool for getting things done. Because of this, it's vital to have a modern messaging infrastructure that meets today's business expectations," said a Microsoft spokesperson announcing the new version on the Exchange Team blog.
The simplified architecture sees Exchange 2016 more closely reflect the way Microsoft deploys Exchange in the cloud with Office 365, the firm said, with a combined mailbox and client access server role making it easier to plan and scale deployments. Co-existence with Exchange 2013 is simplified, and namespace planning is also claimed to be easier.
Other improvements merged in from the cloud include automated repair improvements such as database divergence detection, which makes Exchange easier to operate in a highly available way, plus stability and performance enhancements.
For end users, a new asynchronous search architecture distributes the load across multiple servers making searches faster and more scalable, as well as delivering better fault tolerance. Exchange now has the ability to search, hold and export content from public folders.
Meanwhile, Exchange 2016 now enables attachments to be added as a link to a document stored on SharePoint or OneDrive for Business instead of a traditional attachment, which simplifies document sharing, enables co-authoring and eliminates version control headaches, Microsoft said.
For the Outlook web client, Microsoft has added new features including Sweep, Pin, Undo, inline reply, a new single-line inbox view, improved HTML rendering, new themes, emojis, and more.
Exchange Server 2016 requires Windows Server 2012 R2 as the host operating system, but there are additional network, hardware and software prerequisites, such as the customer's Active Directory Forest must be at the level of Windows Server 2008 or later.
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