Exchange Server 5.5 was released in 1998 when the world of email was a very different place. The last seven years has seen a dramatic increase in the volume of emails and spam, increasingly sophisticated viruses and Internet attacks, and stronger regulation for archiving and compliance. Exchange Server 5.5 design considerations did not factor in these more demanding requirements back in 1998, and we are encouraging our customers upgrade to Exchange Server 2003 to meet these newer demands.
In deed, the feedback that we are receiving from customers who have upgraded has been very positive. Customers are realizing the benefits and cost savings of moving to Exchange Server 2003 with its improved support for mobile users, and better security, manageability and availability. The upgrade momentum is strong, with over 25% over the Exchange Server 5.5 customers having migrated in the last year.
For the latest online tools, training and resources to plan your upgrade, visit the Exchange Server TechCenter at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/exchange/2003/upgrade.mspx . The TechCenter is a dedicated resource site for customers that includes information and tools needed to plan and execute a migration from Exchange Server 5.5 to Exchange Server 2003. This includes virtual labs, webcasts, deployment resources and more.
Microsoft has been in communication with customers about the support lifecycle policy and the associated support lifecycle dates for Exchange Server 5.5 over the past year. Here’s a quick update on the key milestones.
Starting at the beginning of 2004, Exchange Server 5.5 entered the two year Extended Support phase. In an effort to give customers more flexibility to plan and execute a migration, Microsoft waived the fees for extended support in 2004. However in 2005, to obtain non-security hot-fixes, customers will be required to enroll in the Extended Support program and pay a fee. Extended Support does not apply to other support areas. All Exchange Server 5.5 customers will continue to receive security updates at no charge and phone-based support according to the terms of their support contract through 2005.
The end of 2005, signals the end of support for Exchange Server 5.5, and we strongly encourage you to plan your upgrade today. However, customers facing large scale migrations that need additional time to complete their migrations will have the option to enroll in a for-fee, Custom Support program beginning on Jan. 1, 2006. There will be two years of Custom Support available for Exchange Server 5.5 customers. Custom Support will end on December 31, 2007. Microsoft will charge a flat fee for the Custom Support program, regardless of the size of the Exchange deployment. The Custom Support program will provide enrolled customers with security updates at no additional charge for vulnerabilities that Microsoft classifies as ‘Critical’ or "Important" in nature. It will also provide enrolled customers with non-security hot-fixes and per incident phone support. Customers not enrolled in Custom Support will NOT be eligible for security updates, non-security hot-fixes or per incident phone support.
Our goal with these Support Lifecycle offerings is to provide consistent and predictable guidelines for product support availability at the time of product release, while also keeping customers secure as they migrate to a new platform. For more information on Exchange 5.5 upgrades and support lifecycle, visit: http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/evaluation/previous/55.asp.