Microsoft Mail 2.0 designed for enterprise- wide connectivity, offers 2nd-generation electronic mail capabilities

Business Wire

August 9, 1989

Boston -- Microsoft Corp. Wednesday announced Microsoft Mail version 2.0 for AppleTalk networks, the first microcomputer electronic mail package to support true enterprise-wide connectivity over a large, multivendor network.

With Microsoft Mail 2.0, users can seamlessly exchange messages and files from any location, whether they are working on Apple Macintosh computers or PCs. Powerful gateways currently under development will also allow Microsoft Mail users to communicate transparently with users on other mail systems including IBM PROFS, X.400, VMS Mail, DEC Message Router/Mailbus, MCI Mail, UNIX SMTP, AppleLink, Wang Office and others. The product will support thousands of users distributed among multiple work groups.

``Microsoft Mail 2.0 is the first example of a second-generation mail product,'' said Mike Maples, Microsoft's vice president of applications. ``First generation mail products were designed for small work groups with everyone on the same server. When more servers are added, the transparency of the communication process breaks down, requiring users to shoulder much of the addressing and routing burden. In contrast, Microsoft Mail 2.0 is architected to support networks with thousands of users distributed across multiple servers, using a variety of hardware platforms. As workgroup computing evolves, we believe Microsoft Mail 2.0 will redefine the category of electronic mail.''

Microsoft Mail 2.0 is extremely easy to use because the software automatically handles the complexities of communicating among dissimilar machines, multiple servers and different mail systems. As a result, users can communicate with someone across the country on a different mail system as easily as with someone next door on the same server, knowing nothing more than the person's name.

To further enhance workgroup productivity, Microsoft Mail has been integrated with other Macintosh applications such as Microsoft Word version 4.0 and Microsoft Excel version 2.2. This integration helps users to create, share and review information as a team by allowing them to send and receive both messages and fully formatted files from within these popular business applications.

Key new capabilities of Microsoft Mail 2.0 include store-and-forward messaging, sophisticated directory-management capabilities, broad multivendor support, integration with key office applications and transparent gateways to other mail systems. These points are explained more fully below.

Sophisticated Store-and-Forward Messaging

Store-and-forward messaging in an essential element of true enterprise-wide connectivity, as it allows users to send messages at their convenience without requiring a permanent connection to each destination. The ability to automatically notify users when their messages cannot be delivered is also an essential ingredient for mail system reliability.

Microsoft Mail 2.0 addresses both of these requirements. Unlike mail systems that require a permanent connection between servers before users can send mail to a user on another server, Microsoft Mail 2.0 offers store-and-forward messaging, allowing users to send mail even when the recipient's server is unavailable. The sender's server simply stores the message and tries to contact the recipient's server at pre-specified intervals, ranging from one minute to one week. Unlike mail systems that keep trying indefinitely to contact an unavailable server, Microsoft Mail 2.0 will automatically return the message to the sender if it can't be delivered within a pre-specified period of time (anywhere from one to 30 days). This makes communication both convenient and reliable.

Powerful Directory-Management Capabilities

To utilize store-and-forward messaging capabilities, users need a convenient way to locate the addresses of recipients on other servers. But keeping an up-to-date directory for a system encompassing thousands of users and dozens of servers can be an administrative headache. Microsoft Mail's powerful directory-management capabilities address both of these concerns.

The solution lies in automatic, global directory-exchange of information among servers. Unlike mail systems that require users to establish and update their own user directories, Microsoft Mail 2.0 has servers automatically exchange user directories the moment they are brought into the mail system, without any user intervention. The same process occurs automatically when users are added or deleted, or when servers are moved, so users always have access to a complete, up-to-date directory.

This ability to exchange directories automatically not only saves users and network administrators time but also provides for fully transparent communication, allowing users to send mail across the country as easily as to a neighboring workstation. All the user needs to know is the recipient's name; the software takes care of the rest of the addressing process. With other mail systems, users must locate and specify the recipient's server and location. Only Microsoft Mail 2.0 offer automatic, global directory-exchange across LANs.

Multivendor Support Includes PC Workstations and VAX Servers

Hardware from a variety of vendors is a reality of today's workplace. Not only do Macintoshes and PCs often exist within the same work group, but a significant percentage of Macintosh networks use VAX systems as servers. Microsoft Mail 2.0 is the only mail package that supports both Macintosh and VAX servers. It also supports both Macintosh and PC workstations as clients. This multivendor support gives users the flexibility to choose the hardware platform they prefer.

For companies that have a mix of Macintoshes and PCs, Microsoft offers a PC workstation version of Microsoft Mail 2.0. PC workstations can use any network card supporting AppleTalk protocols, such as the Apple LocalTalk PC card or TOPS Flashcard. The software uses a character-based Windows-like interface that is similar to the user interface of the Macintosh version, making cross-training easy. VAX connectivity is provided by products from Alisa Systems and Pacer Software, two leading vendors with extensive experience in integrating Macintosh and VAX systems. Both Alisa and Pacer have developed VAX server software that is compatible with Microsoft Mail, allowing companies that have VAX computers to use them as mail servers. Macintosh and VAX servers can also be mixed within a network, just as Macintosh and PC clients can be.

Microsoft Mail 2.0 works with any AppleTalk-compatible network including EtherNet, LocalTalk and XhoneNet. Futhermore, since the software is fully compatible with Apple networking guidelines, it also works with any networking hardware or software that supports AppleTalk networking protocols, such as Kinetics FastPath, Hayes Interbridge and Shiva Telebridge.

Integration with Word, Microsoft, Excel and HyperCard

The integration of Microsoft Mail with other Macintosh applications such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel is an example of how the product enhances workgroup productivity. By making it easy for users to exchange messages and files from within their application, Microsoft Mail helps work groups create, review and share information. The integration is totally seamless, allowing users to send and receive information using the applications interface, with which they are already familiar.

``Electronic mail is the backbone of office productivity -- it's the `glue' that allows people and applications to work together,'' said Jeff Raikes, Microsoft's office business unit manager. ``By integrating Microsoft Mail with other business applications, we allow users to send each other `live' data -- formatted documents that can be annotated on-line, spreadsheets that the user can interact with. In this way, Microsoft Mail enhances not only individual but also workgroup productivity.''

In addition to allowing users to exchange information, Microsoft Mail allows applications to exchange data. Using either Microsoft Excel's macro language or HyperCard software, users can build powerful applications that automatically create, consolidate and distribute information across a network. For example, a department manager could provide workgroup supervisors with templates for budget data. The completed templates could be automatically mailed to a central location for consolidation and analysis, and automatically distributed to the department manager and workgroup supervisors.

Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel are the first two applications to be integrated with Microsoft Mail. Others will follow, both from Microsoft and from other software vendors. As with gateways, Microsoft Mail's well-defined APIs make it easy for any software vendor to integrate its applications seamlessly with Microsoft Mail.

Transparent Gateways to Other Mail Systems

True enterprise-wide connectivity requires the ability to connect to other mail systems, a process accomplished through gateways. Microsoft Mail 2.0 takes the process one step further by offering transparent gateways, which allow users to communicate with people on other mail systems as easily as with people on their own mail system. They don't even need to know that the recipient is on a different mail system: they just address the mail in the normal way, and the gateway software handles everything.

Along with the announcement of Microsoft Mail 2.0, Microsoft and several third-party vendors are announcing gateways to a wide range of mail systems. Some, such as the gateways to AppleLink and MCI MAIL are being developed by Microsoft. Others, such as those to IBM PROFS, X.400, VMS Mail, UNIX SMTP and fax machines, are being developed by third-party vendors. The well-documented APIs included with the Microsoft Mail version 2.0 Gateway Development Kit allow tight integration between the gateway and Microsoft Mail, ensuring that the gateway will offer the same reliability, performance and transparent functionality provided by Microsoft Mail.

Broad Third Party Support

Broad third-party support is an essential element of enterprise-wide connectivity, since it allows users to exchange information no matter what mail system or hardware platform they are using. Microsoft has been working with other vendors to develop gateways and server software for other hardware platforms in order to bring these products to market in the shortest possible time.

Several leading third-party vendors are announcing products for Microsoft Mail. They include:

-- Alisa Systems and Pacer Software: VAX mail server software and gateways to VMS mail and Message Router (a digital messaging protocol).

-- Soft-Switch; a SNADS gateway to DISOSS and Soft-Switch Central, providing gateways to PROFS, All-In-One, WANG Office and other messaging systems.

-- Touch Communications: An X.400 gateway.

-- Star-Nine: A UNIX SMTP gateway.

-- Solutions Inc.: A gateway to fax machines.

-- GEIS: A gateway to QuickComm.

-- Cayman Systems: A UNIX SMTP gateway through the Cayman Gator-M Box.

-- Infosphere: A wide area gateway to connect remote Microsoft Mail networks.

-- Western Union: A gateway to EasyLink.

System Availability, Pricing and Requirements

Microsoft Mail 2.0 is expected to ship September 1989 to all Microsoft outlets. The flexible server configuration allows an unlimited number of users to be connected to a server, so the system can grow as organizational needs expand. The server starter kit includes software and documentation for one Macintosh server and one Macintosh workstation, plus a network administrator's guide. Node packs include software and documentation for one workstation (Macintosh or PC). A 20-node pack is also available for Macintosh workstations. The suggested retail price for the server starter kit is $395; for a single Macintosh or PC node pack, $125; and for a Macintosh 20-node pack, $1,495. The Microsoft Mail Gateway to MCI Mail is priced at $595; the Microsoft Mail Gateway to AppleLink, at $295.

For users upgrading from Microsoft Mail 1.37, the price is $100 for one to four users; $400 for 11 to 20 users; and $500 for 21 to 32 users. The upgrade price for PC workstation software is $25 per workstation. At least one Microsoft Mail server must be installed on a Macintosh workstation on the network. Each workstation on the network, whether a Macintosh or PC, requires separate workstation software.

System requirements for Macintosh servers and clients are Macintosh computer with 1 MG of RAM; System version 6.0.2 or higher; and an AppleTalk, EtherTalk or compatible local area network. In addition, the server requires a Macintosh-compatible SCSI or serial hard disk that boots the System File at startup. Microsoft Mail is compatible with MultiFinder.

System requirements for PC workstations are an IBM PC or compatible with 512K of memory running the MS-DOS or PC-DOS operating system version 2.0 or higher. All machines must have a network card that supports AppleTalk protocols. A hard disk is recommended; use of the Microsoft Mouse is optional.

Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) develops, markets and supports a wide range of software for business and professional use, including operating systems, languages and application programs as well as books, CD-ROM products and hardware for the microcomputer marketplace.

-- Microsoft, the Microsoft logo, and MS-DOS are registered trademarks and Windows is a trademark of Microsoft Corp.

-- Apple, AppleLink, AppleTalk, HyperCard and Macintosh are registered trademarks and EtherTalk, LocalTalk, and MultiFinder are trademarks of Apple Computer Inc.

-- DEC, VAX and All-In-One are registered trademarks and VMS is a trademark of Digital Equipment Corp.

-- EasyLink is a service mark of Western Union Telegraph Co.

-- PhoneNet is a registered trademark of Farallon Computing Inc.

-- Interbridge is a trademark of Hayes Microcomputer Products Inc.

-- IBM and PROFS are registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corp.

-- FastPath is a trademark of Kinetics Inc.

-- MCI Mail is a registered trademark of MCI Communications Corp.

-- Shiva is a registered trademark of Shiva Multisystems Corp.

-- TOPS is a registered trademark of TOPS, a Sun Microsystems company.

-- EtherNet is a registered trademark of Xerox Corp.

-- UNIX is a registered trademark of American Telephone and Telegraph Co.

-- WANG is a registered trademark of WANG Laboratories.

CONTACT: Microsoft Corp., Redmond Sarah Charf/Marty Taucher, 206/882-8080 or The Waggener Group, Portland Connie Snyder/Pam Edstrom, 503/245-0905

Copyright (c) 1989, Business Wire