Microsoft extends mainstream support for Exchange 5.5

Corporate users who may have been getting anxious about the impending end date for Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 support will be getting a reprieve.

Microsoft plans to announce that it will extend mainstream support for Exchange 5.5 through Dec. 31, 2004. The mainstream support period had been scheduled to draw to a close at the end of this year.

“Customers have been asking for some more time to migrate from 5.5 to 2003,” said Missy Stern, an Exchange product manager. “We did this to give them the time and flexibility to migrate on their own schedule.”

Stern said industry analyst reports show that between 40 per cent and 60 per cent of Exchange users are running Version 5.5, and the majority run it on Windows NT 4.0. Many users have delayed migrations because of the extensive planning associated with the required move to Active Directory, the directory used by both Exchange 2000 and the newly released Exchange 2003.

The mainstream support phase gives customers no-charge incident support, support for warranty claims and hot-fix support, as well as paid incident support and support charged on an hourly basis.

An extended support period, which includes paid and security hot-fix support, typically runs for two years following the end of the five-year mainstream support phase. But in the case of Exchange, the extended support phase is due to end Dec. 31, 2005, as previously scheduled.

In other developments this week, Microsoft said that the core products in its new Office System were released to manufacturing. The launch date for Office 2003 was set for Oct. 21. Pricing will be unchanged from the previous version, Office XP.

Microsoft also disclosed pricing for two brand-new Office System products. InfoPath will sell for US$199. OneNote also is $199, although there will be a $100 mail-in rebate available for qualifying customers.

Also this week, Bob Muglia, senior vice-president of Microsoft’s enterprise storage and management division, disclosed that the long-delayed Systems Management Server 2003 is expected to be released to manufacturing in October, a month later than the company had announced earlier this year.