It's been a week since Microsoft rolled out its public beta, known officially as the "Customer Preview," of Office 2013, along with its next generation Office servers and new Office 365 services. Almost all of Microsoft's official communication about the coming suite of products has been about the client and the cloud services.
What about the servers? Microsoft shared a bit of information last week on what's new in SharePoint Server 2013. On July 23, Microsoft did a similar blog post on the Exchange side of the house, calling out some of the new features in Exchange Server 2013.
A technical preview of Exchange Server 2013 has been available to select testers since early this year. I previously blogged about what some of those testers said would be part of the new Exchange: offline Outlook Web App (OWA) access; greater extensibility; team mailbox support allowing SharePoint integration. And, lo and behold, all of those features -- and more -- are in the new release.
Here's a list from Microsoft of some of the new Exchange Server 2013 features:
Offline support in OWA: Emails and actions are automatically synced the next time connectivity is restored.
Site Mailboxes bring Exchange emails and SharePoint documents together
Outlook Web App offers three different UI layouts optimized for desktop, slate, and phone browsers
Ability to customize Outlook and OWA by integrating apps from the Office marketplace. (Yes, this is a reference to the Agaves add-ins that Microsoft and partners will be making available via the new Office Store.) The new "Napa" tools and/or HTML5 are Microsoft's preferred ways to developers to build these.
Replacement of the Exchange Management Console by a Web-based Exchange Administrative Center (EAC)
Support for up to 8 TB disks and multiple databases per disk via Data Availability Group (DAG) management
Built in basic anti-malware protection, with ability for administrators to configure and manage settings from inside EAC. (Note: this feature can be turned off, replaced or "paired with premium services such as Exchange Online Protection for layered protection.")
New Data Loss Prevention (DLP) capabilities for identifying and protecting "sensitive data." DLP policies are based on regulatory standards, including PII and PCI. Also: new policy tips in Outlook 2013 can be set to inform users about potential policy violations.
In-Place eDiscovery can be run across Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync from a single interface
Here are some more new Exchange 2013 features, courtesy of Michael Van Horenbeeck, a member of the Pro-Exchange community and consultant/trainer with Xylos:
A reduction in the number of available roles to two: a Client Access Server and a Mailbox Server role. The result: These two roles are now "loosely coupled," as Microsoft explains it. More from the Softies on this architectural change:
"The Mailbox server includes all the traditional server components found in Exchange 2010: the Client Access protocols, Hub Transport service, Mailbox databases, and Unified Messaging. The Mailbox server handles all activity for a given mailbox. The Client Access server provides authentication, redirection, and proxy services. The Client Access server itself doesn't do any data rendering. The Client Access server is a thin and stateless server. There is never anything queued or stored on the Client Access server. The Client Access server offers all the usual client access protocols: HTTP, POP and IMAP, and SMTP."
FAST Search now integrated into Exchange 2013 managed store to provide a more consistent (across Microsoft servers) indexing and searching experience
Inclusion of a "Managed Store," with is the name of the rewritten information store processes, which are now written in C#
Van Horenbeeck blogged last week that he considered Exchange Server 2013 more of an evolutionary than a revolutionary release.
"To me, Exchange Server 2013 feels like a natural evolution of its predecessor Exchange Server 2010: there are no groundbreaking features, at least none that you couldn’t expect," he said.
"However, if there were a single item I had to choose from that I welcome the most, then I would most probably not be something in the Exchange Server’s architecture, but rather the unified end-user experience. I think this feature will be one of the key reasons that will drive the deployment of Exchange Server 2013 along with it’s deep(er) integration with products like SharePoint and Lync," Van Horenbeeck added.
Van Horenbeeck has a good post with information on prerequisites and deployment for those interested in downloading and testing the Exchange Server 2013 customer preview. Microsoft has all the gory details on the full set of Exchange Server 2013 features in a new library post on MSDN.