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Microsoft Touts Cloud Credentials Of Exchange Server 2016 Preview

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Businesses can now download the next version of Microsoft’s Exchange email server platform

The next generation of Microsoft’s Exchange email server platform for businesses is available for download.

Exchange Server 2016 Preview was first introduced to the world at Microsoft’s Ignite conference in May, and it is noteworthy because (according to Microsoft at least) it was ‘born in the cloud’.

Cloud Ready

Email © lansvision, Shutterstock 2014The Preview download allows potential users to experience the newest member of the Exchange family, as well as submit any feedback before Microsoft delivers the final release later this year.

“This version of Exchange is special because it was born in the cloud,” said Microsoft. “This preview milestone is an important step in that process, and we’re excited to include the worldwide Exchange community in the journey.”

So what exactly is new that Microsoft is delivering with the new Preview? One of the key improvements is a simplified architecture over that of Exchange 2013.

Microsoft says the changes  reflects the best practices of the Exchange Preferred Architecture, and mirrors the way it deploys Exchange in Office 365. The Client Access and Mailbox server roles have also been combined.

Microsoft also says that it has improved the reliability of the platform, after learning lessons from its Office 365 experiences. It claims that failovers in Exchange 2016 are 33 percent faster than Exchange Server 2013 due to the ability to read from the passive copy of the database. It has also switched on Replay Lag Manager by default, which automatically plays down replication logs when insufficient database copies are available.

And Microsoft is also promising a new Outlook web experience with the Preview.

“As part of our continuing effort to provide users with a first class web experience, we’ve made significant updates to Outlook Web App, which will be known as “Outlook on the web” going forward,” said Redmond.

New features here apparently include: Sweep, Pin, Undo, inline reply, ability to propose new time for meeting invites, a new single-line inbox view, improved HTML rendering, better formatting controls, ability to paste inline images, new themes, and emojis etc. It has also made numerous performance improvements and enhanced the mobile browse experience on phones and tablets.

Microsoft has also beefed up the Add-In model for Outlook and Outlook on the web, to allows developers to build features right into the user’s Outlook experience.

Another key improvements includes faster and more intuitive search to help people cope with the rising volume of emails. Microsoft has also “significantly improved” the overall speed of server side search.

A new more intuitive search UI in Outlook 2016 and Outlook on the web has also been implemented.

Painful Times

Finally, Microsoft has enhanced Data Loss Prevention (DLP) and made hybrid improvements to allow customers to extend their Exchange deployment to the cloud.

Company-wise, Microsoft is undergoing a painful restructuring at the moment. It has reported a $3.2 billion (£2.05bn) net loss for its fiscal fourth quarter, its biggest loss of all time, after it took a painful charge for its acquisition of Nokia.

Redmond also recently announced 7,800 job cuts as part of its ongoing restructuring.

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