Microsoft has been tight-lipped about its plans for Exchange Server 2016, the on-premises release that it plans to ship in the second half of 2015.

Until last night, that is.

While it won't make the big reveal until Microsoft Ignite kicks off in Chicago early next month, the new release will focus on productivity, collaboration and information governance, according to a blog post by the Microsoft Exchange Team.

The team hinted that many of the changes will be familiar to Office 365 users, noting, "Most of the new features in Exchange Server 2016 were birthed in the cloud and then refined in a feedback loop that includes millions of mailboxes deployed worldwide."

'Goodness on the Way'

Call it hype or just good advance marketing. But Microsoft is doing what it can to whet appetites for the new product. "There are new features, enhancements, and refinements that add up to goodness on the way for end users, IT, and your organization as a whole," it boasts.

They include:

  • Improved document collaboration
  • Faster and more intelligent search
  • Enhanced e-discovery search and reliability
  • New REST-based APIs for mail, calendar, and contacts

Microsoft added that it is working to bring back-end improvements to Exchange architecture, high availability and storage to on-premises environments.

"We’re confident that its simplified architecture, performance improvements, new user experiences, better extensibility and tight integration with products like SharePoint Server 2016 add up to a solid release, “ the blog post states.

It invited Exchange users who want to access the early preview to join Microsoft's on-premises Technology Adoption Program. They can also see a demonstration of the new software at Ignite from May 4 to 8 or view the sessions online if they’re unable to attend.

This is the second announcement around Exchange in as many weeks. Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that it is introducing a new security layer to Office 365 with advanced threat protection for Exchange for Office 365 government and business users. Now in testing, Microsoft expects it to be generally available this summer.