Microsoft Updates Hosted Exchange With Instant Messaging

The Microsoft Solution For Hosted Messaging and Collaboration 3.0, due Jan. 19, combines goodies found in Exchange Server 2003 (e-mail); Live Communications Server 2005 (instant messaging and chat); and Windows SharePoint Services (collaboration and shared workspaces).

The target audience for these capabilities, to be offered by service provider and hosting partners, is small and midsize businesses unwilling to pay the often steep price for Microsoft messaging infrastructure, solution providers said.

"This is a move against cheap messaging offered by Oracle," said one Microsoft partner. Oracle has been pushing its Oracle Collaboration Suite to customers for about $60 per user. Oracle is updating its own suite now, adding Jabber-based instant messaging to the mix. That suite is due later this year. IBM's Lotus Software group also is pushing less pricey e-mail to non-deskbound users.

The hosted infrastructure includes provisioning technology based on Windows Server 2003, according to Microsoft, Redmond, Wash. Customers buying into the new service will get hosted messaging, realtime mail, calendar and contact management, and instant messaging.

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