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Microsoft, Unisys Team Up To Offer Exchange 2007 Test Drive

Those with a desire to see how well messaging runs on 64-bit power but without the infrastructure or money to put that kind of environment in place now have a way to take a free, week-long test drive.

Microsoft and Unisys are offering a free trial service for Exchange 2007. Users create a temporary account through Microsoft's Web site here and, for five days, see what life is like in the 64-bit fast lane.

The service is hosted on a Unisys ES7000 server, and allows users to test Exchange 2007's unified messaging features and see how reliable and efficient e-mail can run on a top-shelf server.

Jeff Parker, CEO of Kirkland, Wash.-based analyst group Directions on Microsoft, stated in a Microsoft press release that “Exchange Server 2007 is the first major upgrade to Microsoft's e-mail platform in nearly four years. This is the cornerstone of Microsoft's huge bet on unified communications and its scalable 64-bit application.”

The question is whether Microsoft is concerned about losing the bet. There has been some press speculation as to whether the free trial is an attempt by Microsoft to help flagging sales of Exchange 2007, which went on sale late last year. Given Microsoft's decision to build Exchange 2007 to run only on 64-bit hardware, it's possible that many companies have decided to remain on Exchange 2003, or to try out   messaging platforms from IBM or Linux that can run on 32-bit machines.

For its part, Unisys is undoubtedly hoping users will like how well Exchange 2007 works on its servers, given its struggles with hardware sales. Sales remained flat all last year, including a nearly 10 percent dip in the third quarter, and the Blue Bell, Pa.-based company has been laying off employees to stem the flow of red ink.

The ES7000 is a 64-bit server that can handle up to 32 processors and 512 GB of RAM. As such, it's not the kind of server most small and medium businesses can easily afford.

Unisys has been a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner for more than 10 years, according to the company.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.

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