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Microsoft delivers public previews of its Office 2019 server products

The 2019 releases of on-premises Exchange Server, SharePoint Server and Skype for Business Server, which are due out before the end of 2018, are now available in public preview form.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is making available today, July 24, previews of Exchange Server 2019 and Skype for Business Server 2019.

Update: Microsoft also made available the preview of SharePoint Server 2019 toward the end of the day on July 24.

These are the next on-premises versions of Microsoft's Office server products and the successors to the 2016 versions of those servers. Last fall, officials said to expect these 2019 server releases to be generally available before the end of calendar 2018, following the release of previews in the first half of the year. (They missed by a month on the Server previews.)

The Office 2019 server releases should be able to run on Windows Server 2016 or 2019, as far as I know. I have asked Microsoft to be sure, but no word back so far. Windows Server 2019 is currently in preview, as well, and is expected to be generally available around October 2018. Exchange Server 2019 will install on Windows Server 2019 Core, according to company officials.

Here's some of what's new in each of the coming server releases:

Exchange Server 2019 adds updated search (powered by Bing) and updated calendaring features, including "Do Not Forward" and "Simplified Calendar Sharing."

Skype for Business Server 2019 adds improvements around hybrid support, plus new features including Cloud Voicemail, Cloud Org Auto Attendant, Cloud Call Data Connector and Streamlined Migration to Teams. More info here.

SharePoint Server 2019 will bring a more "modern" interface, improved performance and scale, simplified management and deeper SharePoint Framework integration, as Microsoft execs disclosed earlier this year.

Project Server 2019, which has collaboration capabilities provided by SharePoint Server 2019, adds performance and scalability improvements, updated reporting, and support for an expanded set of programming interfaces. Update (July 26): This preview actually went live at the same time as the SharePoint Server 2019 one, since Project Server is integrated with the SharePoint bits, even though it's licensed separately, a Microsoft spokesperson told me today. Here's the link for the Project Server preview information.

As Microsoft officials have said before, customers using the Online/cloud versions of these products already have these improvements and new features, as the Office 365 servers are updated regularly. The on-premises versions of the servers are meant for business users who either don't want to or cannot move their workloads to the cloud.

Microsoft released commercial previews of the on-premises/local versions of Office 2019 for Windows and Office 2019 for Mac earlier this year. Those products also are expected to be generally available this fall.

Officials have not said whether the 2019 releases of these Office client and server products will be the last non-subscription versions available; they've said they will base that decision on customer feedback.

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