Software

10 things you'll miss when you upgrade to Exchange 2007

The new version of Exchange has some interesting enhancements, but unless you're a command-line guru, you may feel like you've lost more than you've gained. Tom Shinder shares his list of the Exchange 2003 features he misses most.

This article is also available as a PDF download.

Exchange 2007 is the new kid on the block, and it includes cool new features like unified messaging, improved spam filtering, and smart scheduling. But as with any upgrade, there are bound to be a few features that get left behind. Here are a few of the old familiar features in Exchange 2003 that will be sorely missed -- at least by me.

#1: Transparent support for POP3/POP3S and IMAP4/IMAP4S

POP3 is the most commonly used Internet e-mail protocol. Exchange 2003 fully exposed the POP3 protocol in the Exchange System Manager. All you had to do was enable the POP3 service and open the Exchange System Manager to locate the POP3 server and there you could configure all aspects of the protocol. This included not only the authentication methods but also support for POP3 over TLS. In Exchange 2007, there is no graphical support for POP3 and enabling POP3 over TLS using the command-line interface will quickly drive you to distraction.

IMAP4 is a popular protocol used to access Internet e-mail. Unlike POP3, where the entire message is usually downloaded, IMAP4 typically downloads only the mail headers; message bodies are downloaded when the message is selected. In Exchange 2003, it was simple to go into the Services MMC to enable the IMAP4 protocol and then open the Exchange System Manager to get into the detailed configuration of IMAP4.

In the ESM, you could configure authentication protocol support and certificate configuration for secure IMAP4 over TLS. You didn't have to remember a single command-line interface command. With Exchange 2007, you will quickly find that enabling IMAP4 and IMAP4S is not for the faint of heart, as you'll struggle to make the command shell do your bidding.

#2: Transparent support for SMTP

One of the great things about Exchange 2003 was the utter transparency of its SMTP server. If you understood the IIS SMTP service, you understood the Exchange SMTP service. Need more virtual servers to support both SMTP and SMTP over TLS? Need to support authenticated SMTP too? No problem! Just create new virtual SMTP servers. Dozens of SMTP options were available and they were familiar, because you understood the IIS SMTP service.

In Exchange 2007, the SMTP service is hidden behind myriad connectors that are difficult to understand and that don't provide the flexibility and transparency of the SMTP service in Exchange 2003. Perhaps you can use the command shell to perform some of these configuration options, but who wants to make it an avocation to learn a new command-line interface?

#3: Transparent view into user mailboxes

In the Exchange 2003 System Manager, you could easily view information about user logons, user mailbox sizes, and number of items in the user mailboxes. You could also get some interesting information about full text indexing status. When you check out the Exchange 2007 Management console, you'll find all this information absent. I've heard that you can access this information by using the command-line interface, but why should we have to do that when it was just a few easy clicks away in Exchange 2003?

#4: Outlook Mobile Access

I can't tell you how many times Outlook Mobile Access has saved me. The Exchange ActiveSync client doesn't give you full access to all mail in your mailbox. Typically, you keep only the headers from the last day or two. But there have been many times when I've needed to use my Windows Mobile phone to access e-mail messages that may have been several months old. If I'd had only ActiveSync, I'd be stuck for sure!

Thank goodness for Outlook Mobile Access, which gives you full access to your entire mailbox store, including all subfolders created under the Inbox. Sure, Windows Mobile 6 promises to fix this problem. But we haven't all upgraded to it yet, and many existing mobile devices don't support it. OMA is also widely used by users who don't have Windows Mobile-enabled devices. Those poor souls will be locked out of their Exchange mailboxes with Exchange 2007.

#5: A 32-bit version

I like to test software before installing and recommending it. I use VMware to test software. Unfortunately, my computer doesn't have a processor that supports 64-bit guests in a virtual machine. That means I have to use the 32-bit guest. I've found that using the 32-bit guest doesn't give full functionality. My experience has been that the SMTP service doesn't not work correctly and that for "some reason," the Hub Transport and the mail submission service don't work as well. That makes the 32-bit version just about worthless for testing. And what about all those companies that have large sunk costs in 32-bit hardware? Why should they be forced to upgrade perfectly good servers just to run 64-bit?

Someday, the transition to 64-bit computers will be inevitable, but right now there are too many problems getting drivers, and the 64-bit technology is nowhere near ubiquitous. Until it is, we need the option of a fully functional 32-bit edition.

#6: Public Folder management

I use Public Folders, you use Public Folders, just about everyone uses Public Folders! In Exchange 2003, it was insanely easy to access your Public Folders from the Exchange System Manager. You could configure limits and permissions with a couple of easy clicks of the mouse. What do you get with the Exchange 2007 Management console? No reference to Public Folders at all. The solution? Keep an Exchange 2003 machine running.

#7: Public Folder access for Outlook Web Access

Speaking of Public Folders, since we all use them so much, we'd like to have them accessible from whatever computer we're using. Outlook Web Access (OWA) is the most popular way to access Exchange Server resources from remote locations, and millions of us use OWA when on the road. In Exchange 2003, our Public Folders were right there in the OWA interface, ready for us to connect to them and get the information we need. If you have only Exchange 2007, kiss your Public Folder access from OWA goodbye.

#8: Monthly calendar view in Outlook Web Access

Since we're on the subject of Outlook Web Access, how about the way you use the calendar? One of the more popular views in the Outlook Web Access calendar is the Month view. It gives you a birds-eye view of everything that's going on for the next few week, and you can drill down on appointments and make notes. But if you're using only Exchange 2007, you can say so long to Month view in OWA.

#9: Intuitive certificate management for RPC/HTTP (Outlook Anywhere)

Configuring Outlook RPC/HTTP (now called Outlook Anywhere) using Exchange Server 2003 SP2 and above was very simple. Even the certificate deployment issues for RPC/HTTP were a no-brainer, even when publishing from behind an ISA Firewall. Now RPC/HTTP has introduced strange new complexities, especially in the area of certificate deployment.

Exchange 2007 apparently depends on a number of subject alternative names. If you don't have your subject alternative names on your certificate in the correct order, and they don't match the correct common name on the same certificate, you can look forward to hours of troubleshooting Outlook Anywhere Access from Outlook 2007 clients. Oh, give us back the sheer simplicity of Exchange 2003 and RPC/HTTP.

#10: Exchange account provisioning with new user accounts

It's time to add a new user to your Active Directory. Why not kill two birds with one stone and create an Exchange mailbox for that user at the same time? No problem with Exchange 2003 using the Exchange extensions to Active Directory Users And Computers. What happens with Exchange 2007? You get to use a separate interface on a different computer to create a mailbox for that user. So much for conservation of labor.

Summary

The new version of Exchange has some interesting enhancements, but unless you're a command-line guru, you're likely to feel that more has been taken away than given. Many of the changes are based on the premise that all administrators will swoon with joy over the opportunity to emulate the UNIX environment by using the PowerShell, but I'm not so sure that's the case. Many of us use Windows precisely because we like the graphic interface.

By all means, provide the improved command-line interface for those who want it. But it would be nice if it had been incorporated as an addition to, instead of a replacement for, our beloved GUI.

16 comments
griffon
griffon

SP1 of EXCHANGE 2007 will just add these missing parts... Public Folder GUI will be available again, GUI for POP3/IMAP4 will be included as well.... The inclusion of cmdline allows to automate a lot of things. That was not always possible with previous versions.

Tino B.
Tino B.

I am responsible for a lot of entities like email, anti-spam, anti-virus, Internet, security and firewalls, backup etc etc in a corporate environment. I have already purchased 64-bit hardware and Exchange 2007 but not installed it yet, nor migrated from E03. After I read the "10 things ..." my first reaction is: "I don't want to migrate" Can you hear this Microsoft? Yes, we are using OWA, SMTP, POP3, IMAP, public folders (tons of). I simply do not have the time to learn command line syntax but depend on intuitive GUIs to do my job effectively. And of course we will miss those features. IMAGINE: all the software I am using has spec'd down GUIs, or worse scrapped all GUIs and replaced all features with command line syntax. Should we hire more UNIX guys from India? I suggest replacing Windows with UNIX.

steve.hohman
steve.hohman

Before you decide not to upgrade, install it for yourself and see what it does for you. If you read his article, it says he is using a 32-bit version. This was the Beta version that was released a while back. For example, Public Folders are supported in the version I have installed. Plain and simple (it is an option in the install wizard; do you need to support Office 2003 connections?) Try it out BEFORE you rely on the word of an "expert" who seems to yell about the Microsoft sky falling quite often.

ttocsmij
ttocsmij

Outlook 2008 will have these "missing" features to be sure ... for a slight upgrade fee of course for "adding" all the nice "new" user-friendly access and GUI features to the software, eh?

croberts
croberts

Are there any?

gysgt0369
gysgt0369

This list of 10 things for Exchange 2007 is not completely correct. Exchange 2007 does add the cmdline interface and it does relies on it for some of the functionality listed above. I understand your frustration with the whole situation. But, there are several points here that you completely overlooked and the biggest one can't be. You are not forced to upgrade to Exchange 2007. It is 64bit only for a reason. I agree they should never have released the unsupported trial 32bit version. It confuses people and will drive you to drink. Just becuase MS has come out with a new product does not mean that product is right for everyone and most IT professionals I know won't touch a new product until SP1 is released for it. Who buys a system today to use as a server that is not 64bit? You complain that your server isn't 64bit, how much ram is in your 32 bit E2k3 server? Are you using the /3GB option on bootup for that server? Ever wonder why you needed to use that switch? The 64bit OS removes physical/technological boundaries that are in place with 32bit OS's The greatest increase that is seen with Exchange 2007 is that extrememly large amounts of RAM can be utilized more efficiently. Now, with a small business this may not be a problem. But with Enterprise level systems it was a chockpoint with E2k3. Not so anymore. Your comment about Public folders, If you answer the wizard correctly when installing on what version of Outlook you are using it will install Public Folders too. MS has moved away from Public Folders to the logical progression to improve them using Sharepoint. Much more efficient and easier to recover from without having to take down your whole exchange system. Pop3, yes they did move it to the CmdLine. I personally liked it where it was, but this also gives them the ability to interface more with 3rd party apps to runs scripts against E2k7 for health checks and such. There are other reasons but keep in mind. MS has always had cmdline. You just never used it. I used to rely heavilly on with with NT4, and they all worked with Win2000. But as the GUI's performed these funtions most admins forgot all about the use of cmdline. It is a great tool to have available. I agree that the GUI's shouldn't have been removed though. There are other things in your article that has merit, but there are also parts where you are wrong. If you ran out and purchased Exchange 2007 without researching it just becuase it is the newest thing on the shelf. Your wrong. Quit wasting your clients/companies money and thier trust in you. If Exchange 2007 resolved a current problem you have, good, but research the complete product and then compare the good with the bad. Exchange has been built on the same basic structure since it's inception. It was time for a change so it can move forward. When they created this original framework I doubt they saw how far this product would grow with how it was used. It has moved in some areas that they were not designed for and now MS has researched the market at what does work well and what needed to be corrected for how the product was used. If you want an upgrade to your existing version of exchange without having to learn something new. Wait for the next Service Pack. Everyone else in this industry progresses with technology or they get left behind. You are no different. Look around, very few mainframers left.

steve.hohman
steve.hohman

I recently installed Exchange 2007 in my home (test) environment and while there are a few valid points made by Dr. Shinder, I tend to agree more with what you said. I understand there are changes between the two systems, but for someone who is as published on-line as Dr. Shinder to install a Beta 32-bit version that was never going to be sent to production, and then use that install as the basis of an article seems rather irresponsible to me. I have gone back and forth with Tom on an ISA site regarding a valid question I had and I was just as unimpressed with his response then as I am with his article now.

mrwrighty
mrwrighty

Why have Microsoft done this to a perfectly (well almost) usable and manageable interface. Although Exchange 2007 may have some benefits, why remove the functionality that we have all come to love. Why is it that whilst Linux is moving towards GUI mangement for the fundamentals, Microsoft deem it acceptable to revert to command line control, not only is this prone to errors, but how long is it going to take to learne the command line switches. All this in my mind is a retrograde step.

balaway
balaway

IE 7, Office 2007 and Exchange 2007 - what do they all have in common? Microsoft has decided they know better than us and better than our customers. They'll just make the choices for us. Simplicity does not have to come at the expense of flexibility but Microsoft just doesn't get that. And I'm sure all my small business customers will rush to throw out their perfectly good 32 bit servers just so they can run Exchange 2007! What's next, SBS in 64 bit only?Microsoft and the real world, headed in opposite directions.

steve.hohman
steve.hohman

You are joking here... right? Vista not only makes it harder for "less informed" users to modify things with their computers, but it also adds several new features that even the everyday Joe User can appreciate. One that jumps to the front of my mind is the ability to search from the Start Menu. Sure, there are some drivers issues out there, but I would think the burden to issue drivers would be placed on the manufacturer of the hardware, not the OS designer. Are you using a release version of Vista, or are you basing you post on a Beta version like Dr. Shinder?

hkphooey
hkphooey

I've been encouraged to buy Sharepoint to replicate the functionality of Public Folders by a local Microsoft vendor.

jplato
jplato

I have read that in order to use public folder like attributes you have to buy and install sharepoint(Another Microsoft Product) Hmmmmm. It is a marketing scheme as we all know.

grayson.stedman.jr
grayson.stedman.jr

Vista should also be listed in the growing number of products MS is releasing recently that doesn't seem to be inline with customer needs. A whole lot of promise with little real delivery. Just cosmetic enhancements which many people aren't really keen on.

mrwrighty
mrwrighty

Quote "Millions of dollar in research and development say so. There's a reason for the change. It's not just something arbitrary that Microsoft did". The point is why the retrograde step by removing features that we use. How can this be an improvement. Its a double wammy, not only features removed, but command line options added to boot. Blimey thats progress for you. Since when has a multi million dollar company listened to its users. Its money money money all the way. I'm sure there will be a nice chargeable addon/upgrade in the future.

techrepublic
techrepublic

Have you taken those few minutes and figured it out yet? If you have please share.

jusovsky
jusovsky

Millions of dollar in research and development say so. There's a reason for the change. It's not just something arbitrary that Microsoft did, so before complaining, take a few minutes to figure out why.

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