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Upgrading to Exchange 2003 before upgrading to a Windows 2003 domain

An administrator wants to migrate to Exchange 2003 before performing the recommended upgrade a Windows 2003 Active Directory. SearchExchange.com expert Peter terSteeg explains how he can accomplish this – with one caveat.

We have an Exchange 2000 server running on a Windows 2000 domain controller, and Exchange 2003 Outlook Web Access running on a Windows 2003 member server. We need to upgrade our mail to Exchange 2003 and upgrade our domain to Windows 2003.

I know that it is recommended to upgrade Active Directory to Windows 2003 first, and then do the Exchange 2003 migration. However, since we are running Outlook Web Access 2003, I had already run domainprep and forestprep from the Exchange 2003 CD.

Can I simply set up Exchange 2003 on a Windows 2003 member server alongside the existing Exchange 2000 box, migrate all mailboxes to the new box, remove Exchange 2000 from the domain controller, and then upgrade the domain to Windows 2003?

Will I encounter any difficulties using this method?

You will need to wait long enough for everyone to log in once after you've moved the mailboxes to the new server. That way, it will automatically update their mail profiles to point to the new server name. You could also consider just doing an in-place upgrade of your existing Exchange 2000 server.

Also, before decommissioning the old server you need to consider public folders, global address lists, etc.

Do you have comments on this Ask the Expert Q&A? Let us know.

Related information from SearchExchange.com:

  • Learning Guide: Exchange migration
  • Tip: Preparing for a mailbox migration
  • Reference Center: Migration advice
  • Dig Deeper on Legacy Exchange Server versions

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