This Gartner report was originally published eight weeks ago, but Microsoft has apparently purchased reprint/distribution rights, as it is linked from various points on Microsoft.com.  I didn't comment on it at the time of original posting as it has become my policy not to blog about reports which are not widely available.

Now that it's out there for all to see, it's worth a read to see what a surprisingly strong endorsement Gartner gives to a beta product.  I found the tone atypical for an analyst report, but all things being equal, it gives me something to look forward to as far as any future writing they do about the even-more-cool Notes and Domino 8.

Still, there's some analysis in here that needs a critical eye.  For example,

Volume adoption of Exchange 2007 will begin in earnest in 2008, with the installed base reaching 40% in 2010 (0.7 probability).
Microsoft's upgrade pace for Exchange has been historically slower than Notes/Domino.  I am not sure how a product "could set the future for email" if less than 4 in 10 of its existing customers will deploy it within three years.
Microsoft is bifurcating its CAL structure into two tiers: the standard CAL fee, which is unchanged from Exchange 2003 and an enterprise CAL, which adds voice mail, fax receiving, text-to-speech and speech-to-text interfaces; advanced compliance capabilities; and hosted virus and spam filtering services. .... Microsoft has not released pricing for the enterprise CAL, but we expect it to be double the cost of a standard CAL license. The installed base of Exchange 2007 licenses will comprise 75% standard and 25% enterprise editions by YE09.
It's interesting how many customers seem to be listening to Microsoft's pitch for Exchange 2007, with its emphasis on unified messaging, without accounting for this additional cost.  Microsoft is smartly using the halo of the Exchange brand, but the reality is they are pitching a new product at a substantial cost as the main innovation of this supposed-upgrade.  And that innovation is, what, at least 10 years old in concept?  Phone Notes, anyone?  The Gartner assessment of this value proposition doesn't work for me:
We believe integrating voice mail with e-mail creates business efficiencies via common access and command services, and that it will become a cornerstone of the unified communication and collaboration movement.
Maybe it's just me, but I don't get this.  I hate voicemail, and the fact that e-mail and instant messaging have replaced it over the last few years has been a most welcome development.  Why would I want anyone to do anything that encourages more of it?

One surprise in Gartner's analysis of the current Exchange market is further down in the report:
Unlike Outlook 2003, which, with
its cached mode feature, became a mandatory upgrade for most organizations, we do not expect to see Exchange-driven migrations to Outlook 2007.
I've read the technotes on cached mode and talked to organizations that have implemented it -- it certainly isn't the panacea that Gartner implies.  And based on the inquiries we get at IBM for ongoing Outlook 2000/2002 support, I am not sure Outlook 2003 was quite as successful as the statement suggests.

Speaking of Outlook, Gartner says,
Outlook 2007 user training is optional,
This is pretty surprising.  I would never advocate any organization roll out software in any environment without training of some kind.  I'm sure the helpdesk staff at Exchange/Outlook companies would appreciate it if some end-user training was available.

Some interesting realities come out later in the report:
Many companies, particularly those with servers over two years old, will need to perform a wholesale swap-out of Exchange servers.
There's ROI for you!  and there is also
We expect, and recommend, that most organizations will wait until existing voice-mail systems are ripe for upgrading before seriously contemplating a swap-out to Exchange services, which, of course, have yet to be proven in the market.
Good to see that last bit, especially since the other ten pages of the report make it sound like Microsoft has already taken over that market.

I guarantee your bosses are reading this report, so you should, too.

Link: Gartner: Microsoft's Exchange 2007 Could Set the Future for EMail >

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