Microsoft recently announced that Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1 (SP1) will be released at roughly the same time as Longhorn Server, which is currently slated for sometime in the second half of 2007. Service Pack 1 promises to greatly extend Exchange Server 2007's capabilities, while also making it easier to manage.
Exchange Server 2007 compatibility with Longhorn Server
The first factor is the release of Longhorn Server. In its current form, Exchange Server 2007 is not compatible with Longhorn Server. Because it was still in such early phases of beta testing when Exchange 2007 was being prepared for release, there was no way that developers could make Exchange Server 2007 compatible with Longhorn Server.
Because Service Pack 1 will make Exchange Server 2007 compatible with Longhorn Server, it is being tied to the Longhorn Server release. According to someone at Microsoft, if Longhorn Server's release date slips, then the release of Exchange 2007 SP1 will be pushed back as well.
The second driving force behind the release of Exchange 2007 SP1 is that Exchange Server 2007 was not technically a complete product when it was released. There were many features that the Exchange Server development team wanted to include in Exchange Server 2007, but had to cut in order to ship the product on time.
Look for a whole slew of new features in Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1. I can't talk about everything that's going to be in Exchange 2007 SP1 because of my nondisclosure agreement with Microsoft. However, Microsoft has released some information to the public, so I can freely discuss certain features with you.
OWA enhancements in Exchange Server 2007
Some of the most obvious changes in Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1 will apply to Outlook Web Access (OWA). After Exchange 2007 SP1 is applied, OWA will support spellchecking for Arabic and Korean localizations. More importantly, OWA will be augmented to support many of the functions that are only available in Microsoft Outlook 2007 today.
Some of the new OWA features that will be offered in Exchange 2007 SP1 include:
- S/MIME support
- Public folder access
- Monthly calendar views
- The ability to recover deleted items
- Personal distribution lists
In addition, OWA will allow users to open Microsoft Office 2007 documents and view them in HTML format -- even if Office 2007 is not installed on the OWA client machine.
Additions to the Exchange Management Console
If you have ever thought that the Exchange Management Console was a little sparse, you are not alone. I assumed that many management and configuration options had been omitted from the Exchange Management Console because Microsoft was attempting to de-emphasize them (in order to do away with them in a future release); or because it wanted administrators to depend more heavily on the Exchange Management Shell.
As it turns out, many features were omitted from the Exchange Management Console because the Exchange Server 2007 product team simply ran out of time during the development process. Some of the new capabilities that will be added to the Exchange Management Console in Service Pack 1 include:
- POP and IMAP configuration
- Delegation Wizard scenarios
- SendAs permission configuration
- Public folder configuration
Exchange Server 2007 Standby Continuous Replication
Another huge new feature that will be included in Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1 is something called Standby Continuous Replication. The basic idea behind this feature is that data can be replicated to a standby server (or a standby cluster) that can be placed either in the data center or in a remote location. If the primary Exchange server were to fail, the standby server can be manually brought online to take over for the failed server.
Exchange 2007 SP1 will also include several new minor features. For instance, Web service coverage will now include folder permissions management, public folder access, and delegate management.
Another new feature involves the Move Mailbox Wizard. The Move Mailbox Wizard exists in the initial release of Exchange 2007, but it has been redesigned to include support for exporting to or importing from a .PST file. Finally, one last feature that Microsoft has made public is full IPv6 support.
About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Exchange Server, and has previously received Microsoft's MVP award for Windows Server and Internet Information Server (IIS). Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once responsible for the Department of Information Management at Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, Brien has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit Brien's personal Web site at www.brienposey.com.
What can I say? Yes, yes, yes, finally! I couldn't understand how Microsoft could have released Exchange Server 2007 dropping so many of the features that they did that were available in version 2003. Exchange should never have shipped in my opinion. The following Outlook Web Access (OWA) features seem basic to deployment: public folder access, monthly calendar views, the ability to recover deleted items, rules, and personal distribution lists. These features seem to be pretty critical to me.
On the management side, I can't believe they would release a version without POP and IMAP configuration and public folder configuration. Yes, I know it can be done through the Exchange Management Shell, of which I am very happy, but I am primarily a Microsoft administrator. The Delegation Wizard scenarios and SendAs permission configuration are a huge plus as well.
I guess you could say it's better late than never. (Well, now how much longer do we have to wait before it goes RTM?)
My two cents...
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