I know a lot of people have been waiting for Exchange 2003 SP2 to release.  I've blogged in a previous entry that a pre-release version of SP2 will be out shortly.  Yeah, yeah, you say, but WHEN will it be out?????  That is a great question! 

Here's the answer ......................  [drum roll ............]

On August 19th, 2005 the Community Technology Preview (CTP) pre-release evaluation of Exchange Server Service Pack 2 (SP2) will be available for download.

This unsupported release is available only for use in lab or testing environments.  The link will NOT be live until August 19th, so please be patient and wait until that day or you will get an error message.

"Harold", you ask, "are there any caveats?"

Why, I'm glad you asked.  Of course we have some caveats to add in (our lawyers wouldn't be happy if there weren't any)!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Here they are .....

Please be aware that CTP releases of any product will not display the stability of a shipped Microsoft product. Customers may encounter problems with Exchange Server 2003 SP2 that could possibly result in a loss or destruction of data. Some of the mobility features contained in this CTP download are not yet available for testing, pending availability of Windows Mobile 5.0 devices that have the Messaging & Security Feature Pack installed.  Those devices will be available later in 2005 and 2006.  Also some of the security features in SP2 are only available when used with Outlook 2003 SP2 which will not release until later in 2005.  This build is available only in English.

If you want more information about Exchange 2003 SP2, I've copied and pasted the information from the Exchange 2003 SP2 Information Page.

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What Is SP2?

SP2 is a cumulative update that enhances your Exchange Server 2003 messaging environment by adding:

Mobile e-mail improvements

Better protection against spam

Advanced mailbox improvements

Mobile E-Mail Improvements

SP2 offers a huge leap forward in mobility capabilities. With SP2, Exchange Server 2003 can offer a significantly improved Outlook experience on mobile devices as well as additional security and device control. As always, the Exchange ActiveSync protocol does not require expensive software or outsourcing fees to access data on your Exchange server.

Key mobility enhancements in SP2:

New seamless Direct Push Technology e-mail experience. No longer is there a reliance on short message service (SMS) to notify and ensure the device automatically retrieves new e-mail from your Exchange server. SP2 will use an HTTP connection, maintained by the device, to push new e-mail, calendar, contact, and task notifications to the device. This new model even works over wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) networks.

Additional data compression translating to a faster experience when sending and receiving messages and reduced synch times.

Additional Outlook properties, including support for Task synchronization and pictures in Contacts. In addition, you can now look up people by using the Global Address List (GAL) over the air.

Greater control and security, including:

Policy setting. Force a password to unlock a device.

Local wipe. Reset the password after x number of incorrect logon attempts.

Remote wipe. Reset remote devices over the Web.

Such policies help to ensure corporate data or applications are not compromised when devices are lost or get into the wrong hands.

New optional support for certificate-based authentication to eliminate the need to store corporate credentials on a device.

Added support for Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (S/MIME) to sign and encrypt messages coming to and from mobile devices.

For details about the other mobility features in Exchange Server 2003, see the Mobility in Exchange Server 2003 page.

Most mobile e-mail improvements require that your device run the Windows Mobile 5.0 Messaging and Security Feature Pack, which will be available at or near the time that SP2 is released. Some features such as support for Tasks and support for pictures in Contacts will not require the feature pack. If you have Microsoft Windows Media Player installed, you can see the Messaging and Security Feature Pack in action:

View video at 5 megabits per second (Mbps)

View video at 2 Mbps

View video at 300 kilobits per second

To see how the "heartbeat" of Direct Push Technology keeps your mobile device up to date, view screenshots of the GAL Lookup and of other features, and more, register on the Microsoft Events site to watch the Secure and Scalable Messaging with Windows Mobile 5.0 webcast.

Licensees of the Exchange ActiveSync protocol (such as palmOne, Motorola, Nokia, Symbian) can take advantage of these improvements through updates to their messaging applications or devices. The roadmap for those devices is owned and managed by the licensee.

Sender ID framework

Sender ID framework

Better Protection Against Spam

SP2 delivers improved protection against spam to help ensure a secure and reliable messaging environment, including:

Updated and integrated Exchange Intelligent Message Filter. Based on the same patented SmartScreen filtering technology developed by Microsoft Research and now incorporated in Microsoft Office Outlook 2003, MSN Internet Software and Services, and MSN Hotmail, SP2 will incorporate the latest data and updates to the Exchange Intelligent Message Filter. Improvements to this filter ensure a continued focus on identifying spam and reducing false positives. These updates include new capabilities in the fight against spam including blocking phishing schemes. Phishing schemes attempt through deception to fraudulently solicit sensitive personal information by masquerading as legitimate Web sites.

New support for Sender ID e-mail authentication protocol. This new feature further helps prevent unwanted mailbox phishing and spoofing schemes by verifying the IP address of the e-mail sender against the purported owner of the sending domain. Spoofing attacks occur when one person or program is able to masquerade successfully as another to gain access to personal e-mail messages. The result of the Sender ID check is used as input to the Exchange Intelligent Message Filter. The sender must have registered a list of the valid IP addresses in DNS for accuracy. To learn more about Sender ID, see the Sender ID page on the Microsoft Safety site.

Mailbox Advancements

Drive down operational costs and the complexity of your messaging environments with advances such as:

Increase in mailbox storage size limits to 75 gigabyte (GB) for Exchange Server 2003 Standard Edition in response to customer feedback and evolving mailbox storage needs.

New offline address book format offers significantly improved performance.

Cache mode enforcement with added flexibility. You now can force clients into cached mode to help improve performance and increase the number of active users per server. This is especially beneficial to organizations seeking to further site and server consolidation.

Finer controls for public folder management to reduce administrative requirements.

Full support for Novell GroupWise 6.x connectors and migration tools.

Iberian and Brazilian Portuguese spelling checker will be available for Microsoft Office Outlook Web Access.