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What Is Exchange Server?

Published: 2004-06-08

Exchange Server, the Microsoft messaging and collaboration server, is software that runs on servers that enables you to send and receive electronic mail and other forms of interactive communication through computer networks. Designed to interoperate with a software client application such as Microsoft Outlook, Exchange Server also interoperates with Outlook Express and other e-mail client applications.

Meet the requirements for small and large organizations and get easy administration, support, and reliability with Exchange Server. Readily available deployment and support tools also make Exchange Server easy to manage.

E-mail messages are sent and received through what is commonly referred to as a client device such as a personal computer, workstation, or a mobile device including mobile phones or Pocket PCs. The client typically connects to a network of centralized computer systems comprised of servers or mainframe computers where the e-mail mailboxes are stored. The centralized e-mail servers connect to the Internet and private networks where e-mail messages are sent to and received from other e-mail users.

Client access functionality. Exchange Server offers you integrated collaborative messaging features such as scheduling, contact, and task management capabilities. Exchange Server 2003 runs on Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft Windows 2000 Server operating systems. Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 runs on Windows-based computers and communicates with the server running Exchange Server through the MAPI protocol that includes powerful messaging and rich collaboration capabilities. Exchange Server also accommodates other client access through its support for Post Office Protocol 3 (POP3) and Internet Message Access Protocol 4 (IMAP4) protocols as well as support for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP). Microsoft Outlook Web Access, a service in Exchange Server, accommodates what are known as thin clients (Web browser–based access clients).

Mobile access functionality. Exchange Server 2003 supports mobile devices such as Pocket PC and Smartphones and enables you to synchronize your Inbox, Calendar, and Contacts and Tasks lists so you can remotely check your appointments and other important information. Mobile device browsers are also supported through Exchange Outlook Mobile Access, which enables HTML, compressed HTML (CHTML), and Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) browser–based devices to access Exchange Server. The following diagram illustrates the types of clients that Exchange Server supports:

Types of clients supported by Exchange Server 2003

Types of clients supported by Exchange Server

The Exchange Server collaboration features help you to share information quickly and efficiently. Typical collaborative scenarios include maintaining shared address lists that everyone can view and edit, scheduling meetings that include people and conference rooms by viewing associated free or busy schedules, the ability to grant other people, such as administrators, access to your mailbox on your behalf. You can also manage "rules" for processing messages on Exchange Server, giving you the flexibility to create auto-responses and automatic filing of incoming messages. For maximum collaboration productivity, choose the combination of Exchange Server 2003 and Outlook 2003.


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