The upcoming version of Microsoft's Exchange Server will push e-mail directly from the server to Windows Mobile devices, offering the same service as the Blackberry.

The new Direct Push Technology will come in a Community Technology Preview (CTP) of Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2, with the full version by the end of the year, said Exchange product manager Martha DeAmicis.

The push technology no longer relies on SMS to notify a Windows Mobile device. Instead, it sends e-mail directly from Exchange to Windows Mobile devices, giving users a faster and more efficient way of retrieving messages.

RIM requires the use of middleware on top of Exchange to allow messages to be sent directly to BlackBerry devices, which costs businesses and end users extra licence fees. "With Windows Mobile, you can talk direct from Exchange to a mobile device with no server and no [extra] cost," said John Starkweather, group product manager for the mobile and embedded devices team at Microsoft.

It is however dependent upon the inclusion of Windows Mobile 5.0 Messaging and Security Feature Pack. An early version of this software is currently in the hands of Window Mobile OEMs, but devices that come with the technology pre-installed will not ship until early next year. However, customers will be able to buy Windows Mobile devices that can download the messaging and security feature pack from November.

There will also be new security features in Exchange SP2, such as Web-based remote wiping of applications and e-mails on a device in case it should get lost or stolen. There will also be an intelligent spam message filter, and support for anti-spam technology Sender ID.

The CTP of Exchange Server 2003 SP2 also will include a Mailbox Fundamentals feature with improvements to the way public e-mail folders can be managed and tracked, as well as an increase in the storage limit for Exchange Standard Edition customers, DeAmicis said.