Exchange 2007 beta 2 is finally here. This is the first release available for everyone to try. It comes in 64-bit and 32-bit versions. The latter is available exclusively for evaluation purposes and is not supported for production use. To get the bits, beta 2 may be ordered on DVD or downloaded from here.
Starting from the installation we immediately discover some of the advancements available in this new release. Exchange 2007 breaks its functionality into more manageable components/roles. This greatly simplifies deployment. Smaller organizations will typically install everything on one machine getting the classic single server setup. Larger organizations now have built-in support for the distribution of Exchange services over a number of machines. This facilitates securing the network and distribution of resources.
Running the main installation executable setup.exe, takes us to the initial wizard providing the list of steps to be followed. The first 3 steps cover dependencies that must be satisfied before starting the Exchange installation (step 4). The last step involves checking for critical updates. This wizard will automatically detect and disable any readily completed steps.
Each of the initial wizard steps is in fact a link. This will either take you to a download page or will launch the relevant installation. Once you reach step 4 the Exchange 2007 installation wizard is launched. Moving ahead through the Introduction, License Agreement and Error Reporting wizard steps, leads us to the Installation Type step.
The Installation Type provides us with a choice between typical and custom. Typical leads to installing all server roles on one machine. Custom enables us to pick the exact roles we want to install.
This wizard step breaks the roles in 3 categories. As you pick the roles the other categories are disabled showing how these are mutually exclusive. Hovering the mouse over the role options, the description area on the right changes so as to summarize the functionality provided by that role.
The wizard steps that follow will depend on the type of roles selected. In a Typical install you will be prompted for the Organization name and also whether any Outlook 2003 (or earlier) clients will be in use.
Unfortunately the installation does not explain why it is asking about Outlook clients. The effect of answering No will be an Exchange without any public folders. These are required by earlier Outlook versions but optional in Outlook 2007.
Finally the installation takes us to the Readiness Check. For each selected role installation requirements are tested. In this case (a fresh Windows 2003 SP1 machine) the check detected that Windows 2003 was in mixed mode and that the IIS World Wide Web service was missing. It also warned that the 32-bit Exchange is not supported for production.
Raising the domain functionality level and installing the necessary IIS service cleared the critical issues. I could now finally click on the Install button. This kicked-off the actual installation of the various components including the usual Active Directory schema extension.
AD schema extensions may bring about the usual schema related issues. Thus our old friend AD Schema Diagnose can again be very handy when troubleshooting in this area.
Exchange 2007 promises to bring various advancements over its predecessors. The improvements start right from the installation stage where the role based componentization will certainly facilitate deployments.
Download/DVD Order Exchange 2007 Beta 2
Active Directory Health Check with AD Schema Diagnose