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Ready for Exchange 2007 SP1?

Alexander Zammit

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Alexander Zammit has been developing server applications for over 15 years. Most of his works involve Exchange integrated applications, including a FAX server, a mail security product and anti-spam products.

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The wait for Exchange 2007 SP1 is almost over. Standby Continuous Replication, many OWA improvements, the complete return of Public Folders, native PST import/export are just some of the new features.

A reasonably large user base has already adopted Exchange 2007. In the process they discovered issues that the first SP is about to take care of. On the other hand it is no secret many prefer to wait for SP1. Indeed the first service pack marks an important level of product maturity.

Exchange 2007 SP1 is now just around the corner. Final release was promised for this quarter and some are predicting the announcement will be made at the Barcelona TechEd, whose IT Pro track starts today!

Standby Continuous Replication (SCR) is probably one of the new features attracting most attention. This beefs up the already available local and cluster continuous replication options. It allows having one or more standby recovery servers that receive a "delayed" copy of the databases. The delay is fundamental as it allows preventing the propagation of corruptions from the live to the standby server.

Another little, but highly awaited feature is the ability to import and export mailboxes to/from PSTs. In reality as discussed in Using ExMerge with Exchange 2007 this was already possible. However SP1 will now bring this functionality through the shell commands import-mailbox and export-mailbox. These will push the current 2GB PST file size limit to 20GB. Some less welcome surprises included the fact that the commands have to run on a 32-bit machine, not on the Exchange 2007 server (that is only supported on 64-bit). Furthermore Outlook 2003 SP2 or Outlook 2007 must be installed. These contribute the 20GB PST provider.

Major Outlook Web Access improvements are also on the way. Some of my favourites include Web Ready Document Viewing support for Office 2007 file formats, configuration of server side rules, deleted items recovery, S/MIME support, and public folder access.

The Exchange Management Console was missing some must have configuration interfaces. True the shell did provide for these configuration tasks. However many agree with me that the most required functionality must still have a proper UI. SP1 will answer for this bringing configuration interfaces for Public Folders, POP, IMAP and SendAs permissions amongst others.

Indeed with the OWA and Management Console improvements, we get completely back the hard-to-die Public Folders. Does anyone still believe MS does not listen to the complaints of the community? Another case in point is the availability of Messaging Record Management for Exchange Standard CAL holders. As from SP1 there is no limit on creating managed default folders.

We are not at the bottom of the list of goodies yet. Exchange 2007 SP1 can be installed on the new Windows Server 2008 immediately gaining support for IPv6. Also there are advancements in Exchange ActiveSync, in the Hub and Edge server transports, in the unified messaging role and more. For the complete list check What's New in Exchange Server 2007 SP1. Furthermore Microsoft already released the help for SP1 (see references) that discusses these features in detail.

References

Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1 Help

What's New in Exchange Server 2007 SP1

Using ExMerge with Exchange 2007

How to Import Mailbox Data

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