The Microsofties descended on Burlington for the first time in over a year to perform their various stunts, and we gave them a warm and well-attended welcome. Microsoft always seems to be rolling our an update to something or preparing the technical community quote unquote for the newest paradigm shift according to Microsoft. In our case there were half-day sessions for TechNet (meaning mostly network managers), MSDN (meaning developers) and solution providers (meaning mostly vendors, with a smattering of large accounts, such as are available in the BTV area).
The morning TechNet sessions were given over largely to VISTA. Not much new here, except that Release Candidate 1 is indeed available and much more stable than the most recent beta. Current (US only?) testers of R2 can get RC1 from the Vista download web site for a nominal fee of about $10.00.
About a third of the morning session was given over to Microsoft Exchange, which is the email server program that Microsoft offers as the core to OutLook. My own experience with Exchange was almost ten years ago; when I set up a wide area email system using Exchange connectors that worked over dialup. It worked more or less, but then since individual ISPs offered POP mail accounts for peanuts, my advice has always been to use those for any organization under about 50-100 users. The effort of maintaining your own mail server, which has to address issues of backups, email retention, spam control, and virus protection, seems to outweigh any benefit that I can see in doing it yourself. Frankly the costs are too high for smaller shops, you have to be able to spread the cost over dozens of users to justify maintaining your own email system. And if you still want Exchange, you can get a hosted version from Microsoft and others like Intermedia for $5-$10.00 per month per user.