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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Top 10 Features, er I mean patches, in Exchange 2007

I couldn't resist trying out the Exchange build. We had an Exchange 2000 implementation which to upgrade, so this was a big jump. I had big maybe unreasonable expectations from Microsoft, but came up with finding things were much the same. Thinking that I was missing something, I read up and found InfoWorlds gleeming review of Exchange 2007, I don't typically follow InfoWorld, but I was surprised at their top feature picks; here they are with my rebuttals.

1. Server roles - Now there are 5; as if they were short before. Granted SOX has taught us a lot, but nearly every Exchange implementation I've seen has 2, maybe 3 commonly used roles.
2. WebReady Document Viewing - Not all recipient use Msft products, let along Outlook. Webmail users are largely in the dark when sent an Outlook generated item containing Calendar or Notes; even in Hotmail. Finally, Microsoft has built in that compatibility.
Exchange Management Shell - Joy, a new tool. While I didn't think it was necessary, it does simplify Active Directory management.
Exchange ActiveSync - "Improved ActiveSync ...". I'm hoping this means that my Calendar and Notes will stop getting duplicated.
Exchange Hosted Services - Spam, Archiving & Continuity for a subscription fee. Is this Microsofts first step into hosted services? I'm wondering how long until Exchange Hosted Service providers call foul.
Outlook Web Access - Nothing really new here.
Outlook auto-discover - Outlook will automatically configure for Exchange. Wow, imagine that; it's as is they were made by the same company.
Smart scheduling - I like this feature, but again, nothing new. It performs server side scheduling vs. client side; this is more of a feature optimization.
Improved search - This is the only feature in the list that I found exciting; however I expected it. Microsoft admittedly got into the search business late in the game. Thanks to Google, internet users expect immediate search results; finally Outlook meets that expectation.
Bundled encryption - Great for SOX compliance and hyper-sensitive organizations. Most email users will cannot implement this as it not supported by most email providers.

While it does have some other bells & whistles,
Exchange 2007 mostly picks up some of the loose ends that the prior versions left behind.

Update: if you need help in the Exchange upgrade see this article on Transitioning from Exchange 2000 to 2007.