Microsoft has released Exchange 2010 Release Candidate— a feature-complete version of the next release of Exchange Server. It is available for download here. You will be able to upgrade from the Release Candidate to the RTM version, due later this year.
Looking back, Exchange has come a long way in its 14-year history. Microsoft's Michael Atalla notes in a blog post on the Exchange team blog:
When we shipped the first version of Exchange about fourteen years ago, IBM/Lotus dominated the space. According to a 2008 Ferris research report, Notes/Domino share has dwindled to a mere 10% in enterprises, while Exchange has grown to 65% market share across all organizations and continues to grow with more than 4.7M starting the switch to Exchange last year. In fact, Exchange is now is approaching $2B in annual revenues. If Exchange were a standalone business, it would be the 9th largest software company in the world. We expect that momentum to accelerate with Exchange 2010, the most compelling version yet.More in Exchange Server 2010 Release Candidate Available Today!
Exchange 2010 is a 64-bit only release— Microsoft released a 32-bit version of Exchange 2007 for testing and training, during Exchange's transition to the 64-bit platform. Not surprisingly, in-place upgrades from previous Exchange Server versions are not supported. (In-place upgrades stopped being supported from Exchange 2007, and most Exchange folks do not prefer or use this method for upgrading Exchange servers.)
There is a lot to look forward to in Exchange 2010, and end-users will enjoy the many new features. I am particularly excited about the new Outlook Web App (yes, the new OWA. Note, the acronym remains the same), the productivity-boosting conversation view that'll help users better manage their email, MailTips, the new self-help features including users' ability to track messages from OWA and manage distribution groups. There's plenty to look forward to for IT pros and organizations as well, and we'll continue to look at these new features on Exchangepedia.