Here on the Sherpa Software blog, we talk an awful lot about Microsoft Exchange – with good reason, of course! Our software for Exchange has afforded us the opportunity to work with a boatload of great companies doing great things, and we truly appreciate these relationships. To commemorate our progress thus far, we’ve decided to provide you with a brief history lesson – an ode to Exchange, if you will. Don’t worry; it’s not too dense! We’ve included some fun facts along the way. Enjoy!

Microsoft Exchange – A Walk Through History

We’ll walk through the history of Exchange version-by-version, starting in 1996 and culminating in the present year, 2012. Here we go!

1996 – Exchange 4.0 is Born

In April, 1996, Microsoft released Exchange Server 4.0, a migration whose planning had begun three years before. This was the first version of the Exchange mail server sold publically, and it was marketed as a step up from Microsoft Mail 3.5.

In April, 1996, Bill Clinton was President, AltaVista was a popular search engine, and Alanis Morissette’s ‘Ironic’ was topping the music charts.

1997 – Exchange Server 5.0

May 23, 1997 was a big day for Microsoft, as it marked the release of Exchange Server 5.0 – the version that introduced the Exchange Administrator console and Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) network access. Version 5.0 was released concurrently with version 5.0 of Microsoft Exchange Client, though this is the last time they would be bundled together.

In November of the same year, Microsoft released Standard and Enterprise versions of Exchange 5.5. This release marked the point at which Microsoft Outlook replaced the Exchange Client, halting its versioning forevermore.

In 1997, the Green Bay Packers beat the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, Microsoft invested $150 million in Apple Computer, and the comet Hale-Bopp made its nearest approach to Earth.

Exchange 2000 Server (or 6.0)

Exchange 2000 Server (v. 6.0), affectionately code named ‘Platinum,’ was released on November 29, 2000. This was the first version to have a full dependency on Active Directory, limiting those who had expected a platform similar to version 5.5. Interestingly enough, this version also supported instant messaging (IM), a utility that later became Microsoft Office Live Communications Server.

In November, 2000, Hillary Clinton became the first First Lady to be elected to public office (U.S. Senate), Thanksgiving Day was on the 23rd, and the Millennium Bug was all but squashed.

Exchange Server 2003 (or 6.5)

Exchange Server 2003, code named ‘Titanium,’ came out on September 28, 2003. One of the big features with this version of Exchange was the addition of various filtering methods, including connection filtering, recipient filtering, sender ID filtering, and intelligent message filtering (a free add-on from Microsoft). This release also featured enhanced disaster recovery – a welcome addition for system administrators seeking increased efficiency.

In 2003, the Human Genome Project was completed, Pen Hadow becames the first person to walk independently from Canada to the North Pole, and Morgan Spurlock, subject of the documentary ‘Super Size Me,’ began his 30-day McDonald’s diet.

Exchange Server 2007

On November 30, 2006, Exchange Server 2007 was released to Microsoft business customers as part of the Innovative Communications Alliance products. It included a number of new features, including but not limited to voice mail integration, numerable filtering capabilities, and a fresh Outlook Web Access interface. Its latest collection of updates is Service Pack 3 (SP3).

Like versions before it, Exchange 2007 comes in both the Standard and Enterprise editions. The main difference between the editions is the storage capabilities – the Standard edition allowing for five databases and five storage groups, and the Enterprise edition allowing for 50 of each.

In 2007, a 2,100-year-old melon was discovered in a western Japan archaeology dig, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End’ grossed over $900 million worldwide, and J.K Rowling captivated the world of wizarding fandom with her series finale, ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.’

Exchange Server 2010

The current version of Exchange (now at SP2) was released on November 9, 2009. Needless to say, Exchange 2010 featured a ton of upgrades from previous versions – some of which we’ve blogged on pretty thoroughly. If you’re interested in learning about some of these features, including those that pertain directly to electronic data discovery, check out our video/blog series on e-discovery in Exchange.

Some of the more popular features include the Hybrid Configuration Wizard, mailbox auto-mapping, multi-valued custom attributes, and multi-tenant support. Again, there are many others!

Coincidentally, November 9, 2009 (Exchange 2010’s release date) marked the five-year anniversary of the release of Bungie’s Halo 2 for Microsoft’s Xbox. Which was more eagerly anticipated? We’ll let you decide.

Well, folks, that’s all for today’s lecture! We hope you’ve enjoyed your Microsoft Exchange history lesson. Soon enough, we’ll be adding Exchange 2013 to the books!