March 29, 2006 9:00 PM PST

Microsoft repackages FrontBridge service

Microsoft has repackaged the hosted messaging service it acquired when it bought FrontBridge Technologies last year.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software maker has rebranded the service "Exchange Hosted Services," crafting a new, per-user licensing model and future plans call for closer ties with Microsoft's Exchange mail server, company representatives said in an interview Wednesday. The repackaging is expected to be announced Thursday.

The messaging service is part of Microsoft's overall effort to offer services that complement nearly all its software products. Although the company has unveiled many such services for small businesses and consumers, the FrontBridge technology is one of few examples of what it intends to offer large companies.

Exchange Hosted Services has four components: filtering, archiving, continuity and encryption. These components have not changed since the FrontBridge acquisition, the representatives said. Microsoft, however, plans to release some updates next month, such as performance enhancements and more language support, they said.

Filtering scans messages for spam and viruses and offers content and policy enforcement controls; archiving stores e-mail and instant message conversations; continuity allows access to e-mail when the main server is down; and encryption lets users send scrambled messages.

The services will be updated on a quarterly basis, according to Microsoft. At the time the company releases the next version of its e-mail server, code-named Exchange 12, it plans to integrate calendar and contact information in the continuity service, for example, the representatives said. Exchange 12 is expected late this year or early next year.

Despite the new Exchange-centric name, the filtering and encryption services do work with other e-mail platforms such as IBM's Lotus software, the Microsoft representatives said. There are no plans to change that, they said.

The market for hosted messaging security is small, but fast-growing, according to Gartner. Microsoft claims to have more than 4,000 customers for its service. The company's main rivals in the space are Postini and Messagelabs.

Microsoft plans to sell the Exchange Hosted Services through partners. All pricing is per user per month: filtering will cost $1.75, archiving $17.25, continuity $2.50 and encryption $1.90. Discounts are available to those who buy for many users, according to Microsoft.

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FrontBridge Technologies Inc., continuity, e-mail server, archiving, representative

 

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