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Exchange 2000 Feature Overview
Exchange 2000 released to manufacturing

On August 31 2000 Microsoft has announced that Exchange 2000 has been released to manufacturing. Also a press release stated that the company already rolled out the product on all their mailboxes. According to employees the Messaging and Collaboration product group celebrated the release with a parade through the Redmond campus and a big party afterwards.

The next steps are to make it available to MSDN and MS-Select customers and also as shrink wrapped retail box. While this milestone has been hit the developers in Redmond are now working on enhancements and are planning the next version of Exchange 2000 which code name is, according to a Microsoft source on TechEd 2000, Mercury.

Exchange 2000 Basic Feature Highlights
  • Microsoft Exchange 2000 runs only on top of Microsoft Windows 2000. As a matter of fact it will leverage the Microsoft Windows 2000 Active Directory and will no longer ship with it's own directory service. That means it is necessary to upgrade to Microsoft Windows 2000 before Microsoft Exchange 2000 can be used. However, it is be possible to access Microsoft Exchange 2000 with Microsoft Outlook 9x/2000 and also to use Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 and Microsoft Exchange 2000 in a mixed environment.
  • The Microsoft Exchange 4.x/5.x Site concept as a boundary for messaging topology is no longer used with Microsoft Exchange 2000 to build a directory replication topology and administration policy. A new concept based on so called Administrative Groups (also known as AG), which are providing a logical grouping of Microsoft Exchange 2000 objects that are managed by a common group of administrators, and Routing Groups (also known as RG), which are providing a collection of well connected Microsoft Exchange 2000 servers from which full time full meshed connectivity is guaranteed, is now available in Microsoft Exchange 2000. As a matter of fact, the Microsoft Exchange Server 4.x/5.x Site Connector will become a so called Routing Group Connector.
  • The Microsoft Windows 2000 Active Directory does no longer provide Custom Recipients for external e-mail address to Microsoft Exchange 2000 mailboxes. Custom Recipients are now Contacts in Active Directory.
  • Microsoft Exchange 2000 uses SMTP as the internal protocol and no longer X.400 but the X.400 MTA will still remain in the product and will be used for connectors to legacy systems. The administration will be Microsoft Management Console (also known as MMC) based and it will support right click and public folder creation. Also Exchange 2000 doesn't come with it's own SMTP service. Instead it uses the Windows 2000 SMTP service. Note that Windows 2000 Service Pack 1 is required to install Exchange 2000.
  • The most significant issue in a developer point of view is the new database access layer, which is OLE DB. However, MAPI will be still supported in Microsoft Exchange 2000 and Microsoft Windows 2000 Active Directory as a messaging and directory access protocol. As a COM wrapper on top of OLE DB ActiveX Data Objects (also known as ADO) is now the interface of choice for all Microsoft Visual Basic, Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications and Microsoft Visual Basic Scripting Edition developers.
  • Another thrilling new feature is the ability to split the Microsoft Exchange 2000 Information Store into storage groups. Each storage group can host multiple information stores and each storage group can be separately stopped/started and backup/restored without any influence to any other storage group. Exchange 2000 currently supports up to 20 databases splitted into 4 storage groups (only in Exchange 2000 Server Enterprise).
  • Also the Microsoft Exchange 2000 Web Storage System (WSS) is splilt into a so called property store and streaming store. This provides all native Internet content a more sophisticated place to live and also performs better than a property only oriented store. The streaming store hosts all Internet content in it's native format including support for voice, video etc. The property store still holds all property based stuff. The Microsoft Exchange 2000 Web Storage System technology uses an updated version of the Extensible Storage Engine (also known as ESE97), which was introduced with Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 in the year 1997, now in version ESE98.
  • It is possible to access each folder and item of the Web Store via a simple URL. For example, use <http://yourserver/public/company contacts> to access a Public Folder or use <http://yourserver/public/company contacts/subject of first item.eml> to access an item in a particular Public Folder. The Web Storage System renders HTML/DHTML direct without any Microsoft Active Server Pages or CDO HTML rendering application.
  • Another cool feature is the file system integration. Via the Win32 API it is possible to access the Microsoft Exchange 2000 Web Storage System using a virtual drive M: to access a mailbox or a Public Folder. For example, use <M:\domain.com\MBX\your mailbox name\inbox> to access a mailbox, or use <M:\domain.com\Public Folders\your folder name> to access a particular Public Folder. This drive can be shared to allow everyone simple to copy a document into the Web Storage System using Windows Explorer or any other application.
  • One often requested feature is to host multiple Public Folder trees per organization. It is now possible to host one separate Public Folder tree inside each Microsoft Exchange 2000 Web Storage System. This gives more flexibility to manage information's e. g. to large organizations.
  • Finally the new Microsoft Exchange 2000 Web Storage System now supports more granular permissions. It is possible to secure items and fields/properties by applying item level read/edit/delete, resp. property level write/delete permissions via the Microsoft Windows 2000 Active Directory security model using XML.
Collaboration Feature Highlights

Unfortunately the SDK resp MSDN and Platform SDK are not updated yet. But the Beta documentation already showed a great deal of the new Collaboration Data Object for Exchange 2000 (also known as CDO 3.0 or CDOEX), which ship with Exchange 2000. Some basic information's are currently available, like:

  • Obviously CDO 3.0 does have a different object model than CDO 1.x. The reason is that a lot of new features are included, but the new object model should be still easy to use. Some of the new features are, document management, workflow and voice messaging functions.
  • CDO 3.0 does not replace CDO for Windows 2000 (also known as CDO 2.0 or CDOSYS). CDO 3.0 is the successor of CDO 1.x and it does not longer rely on MAPI. Instead it leverages OLE DB 2.5 as the Microsoft Exchange 2000 Web Storage System access layer.
  • CDO 3.0 is not redundant with OLE DB/ADO. There is a complementary relationship between OLE DB/ADO and CDO 3.0. You can use OLE DB/ADO to access all data of a particular Microsoft Exchange 2000 Web Storage System in a database like view. It is very easy to navigate to a particular item and access it as an ADO recordset, no need for schema assumptions. Rapid application development to build e. g. an Intranet contact application are a piece of cake with ADO.
  • You can use CDO 3.0 to easily manipulate Microsoft Exchange 2000 Web Storage System items. Note that this requires a schema built into the object model, which means that the object model includes a set of objects to access key Microsoft Exchange 2000 data. For example an IMessage interface to access a message, an IBodyPart interfaces which exposes the MIME and S/MIME content of a message (including the HTML message body) and an IPerson interface to access contact data.
  • A pretty cool new feature of CDO 3.0 is the possibility to enhance it through custom objects. You can build your own custom objects, which are first class objects, and use them in your own application likewise the native CDO 3.0 objects without a major difference.
  • Finally so called Microsoft Collaboration Data Objects for Exchange 2000 Management (also known as CDOEXM) for managing Microsoft Exchange 2000 via Microsoft Visual Basic, JavaScript and Microsoft Visual Basic Scripting Edition are included. CDOEXM includes additional interfaces on the information store, folders, contacts etc. to build e. g. a Web-based administration console of Microsoft Exchange 2000.
Event Scripting Feature Highlights
  • Microsoft Exchange 2000 is extensible through events. For examples it is now possible to hook into the SMTP transport to add e. g. company disclaimers or virus scan engines to pick up each e-mail transferred via SMTP.
  • Also Microsoft Exchange 2000 now supports synchronous and asynchronous events in the event scripting engine and the event scripting engine is now native built into the Microsoft Exchange 2000 Web Storage System.
  • An important new aspect from a developers point of view is that the new event architecture now supports C++, Microsoft Visual Basic and Microsoft Visual Basic Scripting Edition as programming language to build custom event handlers.
Outlook Web Access Feature Highlights
  • Microsoft Exchange 2000 still includes an Outlook Web Access interface, but it is no longer a Microsoft Active Server Pages application build with Microsoft Collaboration Data Objects.
  • The new Microsoft Outlook Web Access is native build into the Microsoft Exchange 2000 Web Storage System and leverages an new standard called WebDav, which is already an Internet standard RFC (#2518).
  • Finally the new Microsoft Outlook Web Access now supports contacts, calendars and right click option menus (but still no tasks, journal and sticky notes).