First in next wave of Office-related products available for testers.
Microsoft has released a beta version of Exchange Server 2010, the first to be designed by the company to work on-premise and as an online service, and has also detailed its forthcoming Service Pack 2 for Microsoft Office 2007.
Exchange Server 2010 will be available in the second half of this year, and is the first product to launch in what Microsoft describes as the "next wave of Office-related products".
The others, including Office 14 - now known as Office 2010 - and SharePoint Server 2010, are due for technical preview in the third quarter of 2009 and release in the first half of 2010.
Microsoft is promising an integrated email archive, lower storage costs, improved productivity and a consistent Outlook experience across PC, mobile phone and browser with the new version of Exchange Server.
The product includes features such as an email mute button which allows users to remove themselves from irrelevant email strings, and voice mail preview which enables text previews of voicemail directly from Outlook.
"Exchange 2010 ushers in the next generation of Microsoft unified communications software as the first server designed from inception to work both on-premise and as an online service," said Rajesh Jha, corporate vice president of Exchange at Microsoft.
"This release raises the bar with new archiving and end-user innovations that will help companies save money and employees save time."
Microsoft has also finally announced the release date for the Microsoft Office 2007 Service Pack 2. The update will arrive on 28 April, boasting a host of improvements on the desktop and server, according to a Microsoft Update Product Team blog post.
Key among these is support for version 1.1 of the OpenDocument Format for Word, Excel and PowerPoint, built-in Save As PDF/XPS support, and the ability to uninstall client updates through the Microsoft Service Pack Uninstall Tool as well as the Windows Installer command line.
Other features on the extensive list include enhancements to Outlook reliability and performance, and faster PowerPoint file saving, according to Microsoft.
"The 2007 Office Suite SP2 has been tested and is supported for Internet Explorer 8," said the blog post. "Windows Vista SP2, Windows Server 2008 SP2, Windows 7 and Windows Server R2 will all be supported on their release."
On the server side, Microsoft promised improvements to enterprise content management and search.