If you followed the MS Ignite 2017 conference this year, you'll know that Microsoft unveiled plans for their next iteration of on-premises Exchange, Exchange 2019. This comes as a significant milestone for Microsoft as this will be it's 10th product version, and also marks Exchange as 21 years old. Microsoft has confirmed that a preview should be available by Mid 2018, with final release targeted for the second half of 2019.
There weren't really any other monumental announcements regarding the underlying technology, new features or improvements. Unfortunately, I don't think this version will hold any earth-shattering enhancements. Similar to how Exchange 2016 was seen by the community as a mere Service Pack for Exchange 2013, perhaps Exchange 2019 will look a lot like Exchange 2016 when it finally arrives.
After reviewing Microsoft's time line for release, and some of it's other product matrices, I've come up with the following predictions. Again, these are ONLY speculation based on my knowledge and aren't set in stone:
- MAPI over HTTP will be the default, and ONLY communication protocol. RPC over HTTP has already been deprecated in Exchange 2016 so I can't imagine Microsoft bringing it back for some reason. This could also mean that Outlook Anywhere gets dissolved as a CAS hostname, and that the MAPI virtual directory is responsible for this.
- The minimum OS requirement will most likely be Windows Server 2012 R2. Although this is all dependent upon when Exchange 2019 actually RTMs. If it RTMs after October of 2018 (when Server 2012 R2 goes into extended support), then it may turn into a minimum requirement of Window Server 2016.
- Outlook 2013 will be the minimum supported client
- There will surely be some performance improvements as in every iteration of Exchange, there is typically a significant improvement in IOPS and indexing.
- Hybridization will likely become easier (it's already been easy with 2013 and 2016). Also I think some of today's constraints regarding delegate permissions, calendar sharing, etc. will improve or become a thing of the past.
All in all, I'm thrilled to see Microsoft committed to provide solutions to sizeable on-premises customers, even though they continue to drive and design for cloud innovation.