Earlier today, Microsoft announced that the RTM versions of its Office 2013 suite and server products – namely Exchange Server 2013, Lync 2013 and SharePoint 2013 – are available for download if you’re a TechNet or MSDN subscriber.
While it’s encouraging to see Exchange 2013 RTM available for download, one MVP offered strong words of caution.
“It’s exciting to see Exchange 2013 available for download, but know that you can only start testing Exchange 2013 and Exchange 2010 integration when Exchange 2010 SP3 is released,” said Nicolas Blank an Exchange MCM and Ranger based in Cape Town, South Africa. “Until then, all lab and live deployments will be green fields. That said, it’s still a great chance to play with the bits until then.”
Eager IT folks who are ready to play with those Exchange bits may be impressed with new features, many of which are a product of Microsoft’s own work in the cloud. This is a sentiment that was reiterated time and again at last month’s MEC show. Microsoft is making it clear that the cloud is the direction it is headed in.
“Many of the improvements in Exchange 2013 are likely the result of Microsoft’s experience offering hosted Exchange services,” said Rob Sanfilippo an analyst with Washington-based Directions on Microsoft. “Even customers that don’t use [cloud] services benefit from Microsoft’s work in that space.”
In my opinion, one of the best things Microsoft has done is show its commitment to hitting their promised release dates (and in this case before) for its Server products (and Office) on time and in close proximity to one another.
For instance, in the past, interconnected products such as Exchange 2010 and SharePoint 2010 were released at different times, affecting purchasing decisions by companies that could use both products, and opening a window of opportunity for competing products to slip in. As these products become increasingly intertwined, delivering them closer together could close that door and nudge more IT shops toward all-Microsoft solutions.
What did you think about the announcement? Email me and let me know.
Until next time,
If you were fortunate enough to attend the Microsoft Exchange Conference in Orlando last month, you know that the Microsoft Exchange team and Exchange Server professionals in general take a lot of pride in their community.
To celebrate that, the Exchange team announced the launch of the new IamMEC.com website. Exchange Server professionals can visit IamMEC.com to post technical questions, download helpful Microsoft PowerPoint presentations and much more.
In my time as editor for SearchExchange.com, I’ve met more than a few Exchange Server pros who have taken time out of their busy schedules to:
- Offer valuable insight on topics I’m working on,
- Answer difficult technical questions, and
- Chat about what they think is new and interesting.
On that note, I am pleased to announce our new “Profiling the best Exchange Server professionals” program. Each month, we will take nominations from readers as to who they think deserves this prestigious honor. Please feel free to nominate yourself, a co-worker, a colleague or maybe someone who came to your rescue at one time or another.
We will carefully review all nominees’ credentials and select a winner. From there, I will post a profile of each winner so that our vast readership can read about — and possibly connect with — some of the Exchange Server community’s best and brightest.
We know there are a lot of great MVPs and the like out there, but we’re hoping to also profile important and helpful IT pros who may not always get the recognition they deserve.
If you’d like to nominate yourself or someone else, email me with the following information:
- Nominee’s name, email and title
- Brief overview of credentials/resume
- Exactly why this person deserves to be profiled
I know there’s a ton of great people out there doing a lot of great work, so feel free to nominate two to three people at a time if you like.
Microsoft announced yesterday that Exchange Server 2013 has reached the release to manufacturing (RTM) milestone. But that’s not the only good news; the rest of the Wave 15 products – Microsoft Office, SharePoint and Lync — have reached RTM as well.
Not only does this make a lot of sense for Microsoft, but it’s also great news for customers as well as admins who are ready to start digging in.
“This is a great driver for wider adoption, especially due to how closely integrated all products have become,” said Steve Goodman, an Exchange MVP and technical architect for Phoenix IT group, based in the United Kingdom.
Remember, there will be new service packs for both Exchange Server 2010 and Exchange Server 2007 coming in early 2013 as well. These service packs will provide coexistence with Exchange 2013, which will aid in the migration process.
No lack of quality Exchange 2013 material
The thing that has impressed me most about the upcoming Exchange 2013 release is the amount of quality information that is already available.
We’ve only just hit Exchange 2013 RTM, and the Exchange team has done a terrific job blogging on many of its ins and outs. It has covered the Exchange Administration Center (EAC), which is the new and improved web-based management interface, modern public folders, archiving and e-discovery, the new Data Loss Prevention (DLP) feature and really too much more to get into here.
And we at SearchExchange.com have done our share as well; just click the links above to get a small glimpse. You’re certain to see many and more Exchange 2013 and Outlook 2013 articles in the weeks and months to come as well.
What topics would you like to see specifically covered? Write me and let me know.
As first reported here and tweeted about here:
the Exchange team announced plans to release Exchange Server 2010 SP3 in the first half of 2013.
Most of the talk at MEC focused on the upcoming Exchange Server 2013 release. And naturally, Ben Appleby’s session on Hybrid and migration on your own terms touched on the need for Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2013 to coexist during an Exchange 2013 migration. It was at this time that he told the audience that they could expect Exchange 2010 SP3 “early next year.” This also signals a more clear release date for Exchange 2013.
Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2013 coexistence is not the only important part of the upcoming service pack. In last night’s EHLO blog post, Kevin Allison, GM for the Exchange customer experience, also wrote that IT pros will be able to install and deploy Exchange 2010 on machines running Windows Server 2012.
To accommodate these new capabilities, Exchange 2010 shops will be required to update their Active Directory schema. I’m curious as to what Exchange admins think about that.
As always, all previous rollup updates will be included in Exchange 2010 Service Pack 3.
Write me and let me know what you think.
Orlando — For months, the Exchange community has been buzzing about what was dubbed “the lost conference.” The Microsoft Exchange Conference, or MEC, is finally here and I wanted to share a few insights with those not able to attend.
At this morning’s keynote, Michael Atalla — director of product management for Exchange Server and Exchange Online, as well as the morning’s MC — began by thanking the audience. He explained that without its strength as a community, the conference never could have been resurrected.
To that note, Atalla also announced the launch of the new I am MEC Web portal. This is all about the Microsoft Exchange community (hence the acronym); it’s all about giving Exchange Server pros a place where they can discuss ideas, view presentations, expert tips and more.
Continuing with the theme of community, Julia White and Rajesh Jha spoke to the importance of MEC as an interactive conference.
“This community has helped Exchange go from underdog to market leader,” White said.
“We need your help to propel us forward to the next set of challenges,” Jha added.
Other keynote highlights included:
- Karim Battish and Vivek Sharma talking about hybrid configurations and the Exchange administration center (and showing off an elaborate handshake),
- Kristian Andaker demonstrating Outlook 2013 and OWA 2013 (the interfaces are really close), and
- Asaf Kashi explaining new antivirus and antispam capabilities available natively in Exchange 2013, as well as the new data loss prevention feature.
While there were many other highlights today — including Ross Smith IV’s presentation on Exchange 2013’s new and improved server role architecture — it would be impossible to recap them all here. Below you’ll find a few other choice tidbits from the show:
- In his presentation on hybrid and migration on your own terms, Ben Appleby mentioned that Exchange 2010 SP3 should be out “early next year.” Exchange 2013 coexistence anyone?
- Appleby also took the time to carefully describe cutover vs. staged cloud migrations. It seems to me that most folks still don’t have a solid grasp on cloud migrations or hybrid scenarios (more on that topic coming to the site soon).
- Any and all high availability sessions were heavily populated.
- You can control the size of .ost files in Outlook 2013.
- There has been a 99% reduction in IOPS in Exchange 2013 from Exchange 2003.
Got any questions or comments regarding this blog or the show? Email me and let me know.
Everyone say see ya, adios, sayonara to the Forefront line. Well, most of it.
This week Microsoft announced it will discontinue several of its Forefront security products. Those products are as follows: Forefront Protection 2010 for Exchange (FPE), Forefront Protection 2010 for SharePoint, Forefront Security for Office Communications Server, Forefront Threat Management Gateway 2010 and Forefront Threat Management Gateway Web Protection Services.
This is not to say that the companies that rely on these products should stop using them. It simply means that as of December 1, 2012, the aforementioned products will be no longer be available for purchase (mainstream support will continue until April, 2015).
Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking with Exchange MVP and MCM Devin Ganger to get his take on the announcement.
“This is going to hurt small- to medium-sized businesses more than large ones,” said Ganger. “TMG filled a much-needed role for them. The industry has to step up and see who is going to provide a replacement product for these capabilities.”
But why did it happen?
“This is pure speculation, but it seems like the architectural limitations of the product caught up to it and Microsoft wasn’t willing to put in the work to bring it up to snuff,” Ganger added.
He also pointed to TMG limitations,which you can read about on his blog.
FOPE name change
On a related note, Forefront Online Protection for Exchange (FOPE) has been renamed “Exchange Online Protection.”
What do you think of the announcement? Do you use Forefront? Were you considering a purchase? Let me know.
Until next time,
Microsoft’s Exchange Conference is fast approaching (just five more weeks!) and I thought it would be interesting to get some insight from a respected member of the Exchange community. Fortunately, my search didn’t take very long as Exchange MVP, Certified Master and conference speaker Nicolas Blank was happy to oblige.
After a few telephone difficulties — I’m in Newton, Mass. and Nicolas is in Cape Town, South Africa — we were able to spend some time talking about MEC and what folks should look forward to if heading to or considering the conference. Below you’ll get a quick glimpse into our conversation. Enjoy!
1. Why are you excited about MEC?
Nicolas – Well, I’ve been working with Exchange for about 14 or 15 years now and it’s the reason I get out of bed in the morning. [Exchange] is something I’m really passionate about; it’s THE application. It’s not only about what Exchange is, but what it does for people.
I think the Exchange team does a heroic job at [fixing] things we take for granted and I’m looking forward to taking part in and observing conversations at an MVP level. Attendees are going to have the chance to talk to these folks and vice versa.
This is more than responding to people via a blog; it’s a no-holds barred opportunity to chat with the product team and everything gets answered; that doesn’t happen anywhere very often. The entire Exchange team will be there and we’ll all be able to talk Exchange all week.
2. Which sessions and/or speakers are you looking most forward to?
Nicolas – I don’t think it’s fair because there are so many great speakers and sessions, and everyone does such a great job. When you put your heart and soul into a session, it might be months of work. Everyone that’s helping to put on the show deserves the utmost recognition.
Let’s put it this way, MEC is not a conference where you’re going to deliver a mediocre session; you’d better bring it.
3. Besides the obvious Exchange 2013 content, what do you hope to get out of MEC?
Nicolas – I really enjoy the sessions where we’re demonstrating value to organizations; mostly anything that has to do with architecture or migrations. I like finding out how I can apply this knowledge to business decisions, such as whether or not a new feature will help a business migrate.
4. If you can self-promote for a moment, what’s a “can’t-miss” session you’ll be presenting?
Nicolas – I’ll be working at the “Exchange Masters Challenge.” This is going to be a real treat. It’s an opportunity for people to test their [Exchange administration] skills and do whatever they want without risking or breaking anything in a production environment. This is a chance to prove your mettle. It’s going to be a friendly crowd with a product you love.
I thoroughly encourage everyone to come; it’s definitely worth the challenge. You’ll have the opportunity to stand next to certified masters and work with them to figure things out you’d never see in your own environment. Come find out how you stack up.
5. Anything else you’d like to add about MEC?
Nicolas – This is THE premier Exchange event of the year. There will be terrific personalities and speakers everywhere you turn. It has the right content, product and experience. There’s a certain mix of skills it takes to be a good Exchange admin; you’ll have the chance to be around lots of those people.
A big thank you goes out to Nicolas Blank for taking the time to speak with me. Be sure to check out Nicolas’ Blankman blog, follow him on Twitter and have a look at the ITPro Africa site which offers lots of great Exchange info.
What are you looking forward to at MEC? Write and let me know.
See you in Orlando!
Earlier today Microsoft released the eighth rollup update for Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 3. As you’re probably aware, each update addresses various internal- and customer-found bugs within Exchange Server.
Back in January I speculated that we might have seen the last rollup for Exchange 2007 SP3, but the Exchange team understands that a large portion of its customer base still relies on Exchange 2007 and continues to churn out updates.
There have been plenty of rollup updates since Exchange 2007 dropped five-plus years ago and there are only a few flaws left in the product. The Exchange team fixed the following issues this time around:
- The Exchange Information Store service stopped responding when performing a search on Exchange 2007 mailboxes,
- The Exchange Information Store service would crash on an Exchange 2007 mailbox server, when events 4999 and 7034 get logged,
- A text or HTML email attachment is displayed in the message body instead of in the attachment line,
- Outlook prompts you for credentials and incorrectly connect to an out-of-site global catalog after installing RU 6 for Exchange 2007 SP3.
Rollup 8 for Exchange 2007 SP3 also resolves the problem described in Microsoft’s MS12-058 security bulletin where a vulnerability in Exchange Server WebReady document viewing could allow for remote code execution, giving attackers back-door access to infiltrate Exchange Server.
Have you noticed anything the Exchange team might have missed? Email me to discuss.
This afternoon I was doing my usual daily research on the Web and Twitter when a Tweet popped up via TweetDeck: “A new personal email service -> Say Hello to Outlook.com, New Modern Email from Microsoft.” Like any intrepid journalist, I clicked the link. What I saw next scared me a little bit.
After clicking the link, I was automatically logged into my 12-ish year old Hotmail.com account (which I do still use), except it had the Outlook.com interface. As you can imagine, this was a bit confusing. I was not currently on my Hotmail.com account page on another tab, nor was I logged in. Yet somehow, it sent me right to my mailbox — no username or password required.
I promptly signed out, then clicked back on the link. It brought me to this page:
When I signed into Hotmail.com, I got a very similar page (except for a fun orange color scheme).
While I appreciate what Microsoft is trying to accomplish with Outlook.com (see improved social networking capabilities, document editing capabilities, chat and more), I found it peculiar that I was logged into my Hotmail mailbox (with Outlook.com interface) immediately after clicking the Outlook.com link.
Not just Hotmail
Further investigation shows that anyone with a Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, etc. email addresses can now use Outlook.com. If you sign up for Outlook.com, you can set it up so that your Yahoo, Gmail, etc. messages get forwarded to Outlook.com.
Microsoft further states that: “This will let you use both services for now, but we think that over time, most people will prefer Outlook.com;” an obvious power play.
On a related note, Yahoo is currently experiencing an outage.
I’ll be interested to read/hear what more people have to say about this, but right now it’s a little disconcerting.
*Update: Aug. 1 8:45 A.M. (ET) – I went to the hotmail website and signed into my account; when my inbox loaded, it was Outlook.com. I don’t like that at all.
Yesterday Dell announced it has teamed with Microsoft to release Microsoft Office 365 with Dell, giving small- to medium-sized businesses another cloud option.
The primary benefit of Office 365 with Dell appears to be that customers now have access to Dell’s service staff instead of Microsoft’s. Where Dell’s customer service has been lauded, Microsoft’s has been less than stellar thus far.
“Dell has gotten really good at support. It’s a pleasant experience and they always have experts on hand,” said Carl Brooks, an analyst with Tier 1 research.
“Many people who have migrated to Office 365 have been frustrated,” added Mike Crowley, an Exchange MVP and Enterprise infrastructure architect with Planet Technologies. “If you have a question or configuration problem, [Microsoft doesn’t] give you a lot of help.”
What about that price creep?
Interested customers will also note that Office 365 with Dell touts a $9 per-user price, more than Microsoft’s heavily promoted $6 per-user price.
One of the drawbacks for companies that move to Office 365 is that they’re not allowed to integrate any of their custom applications or third-party tools they’ve invested in with Office 365. They lose access to archiving tools, monitoring and reporting and too many other things to list here.
Because you’re working with Dell, you’ll have access to Dell’s add-ons, hopefully lessening the blow of lost applications and products.
“Dell is playing to [its] strengths here,” added Brooks. “It has gone from a personal consumer product company to more of a server, IT services and support company. Hosting is just one thing Microsoft does; it is not an area of expertise.”