If you’re running Exchange 2003, get ready for the release
later in 2005 of service pack 2 for your product. SP2 includes everything from
SP1, as well as most hot fixes release since SP1 and other fixes for bugs that
have not yet been corrected. Further, SP2 will include a number of new features
designed to enhance the functionality of Exchange and to ease administrative

Perhaps the most exciting enhancement for organizations
running the standard version of Exchange is the increase in the size limit of
the message store. While current Exchange 2003 Standard servers are limited to
a 16GB information store, upon installation of SP2, this limit leaps to 75GB. This
is very significant, particularly since Microsoft doesn’t make it easy from a
licensing perspective to move to the Enterprise edition of the product. They
require you to buy a new, full license for the enterprise product, with no
“trade in” for your standard product.

SP2 will also tighten enforcement of Outlook’s “cached
mode,” allowing you to force clients to use this mode, which results in
better server performance and a greater number of users per server. This means
that you will need fewer Exchange servers, resulting in lower hardware and
licensing costs.

Exchange SP2 will also include Sender ID, an e-mail
authentication mechanism by which you might be able to reduce the amount of spam entering your systems. Beyond this, SP2 will also
include an updated and better integrated version of the Exchange Intelligent
Message Filter, which includes the same technology Microsoft uses to protect
Outlook 2003, MSN and Hotmail users from spam.

Finally, SP2 will include significant mobility enhancements,
such as “Direct Push,” which does away with SMS and allows a handheld
device to use HTTP to retrieve mail, calendar entries, contacts and tasks from

While the biggest benefit for SP2 is for standard edition
users and mobile users, all Exchange 2003 customers will likely receive some
benefit from this significant upgrade.

Use OWA Admin to administer Outlook Web Access

Along with SP1, Microsoft, somewhat quietly, released a
web-based tool that allows you to configure a myriad of options related to
Outlook Web Access. Appropriately named Outlook Web Access Web Administration,
the utility allows you to change such OWA options as the maximum length of a
signature, the way attachments are handled, the new mail notification interval,
and more, and even allows you to restrict which features are a part of your users’ OWA experience. For example, if, for
some reason, your company doesn’t want employees using the calendar via OWA,
you can configure OWA so that this option is never even shown to users.

Using the tool, you can also apply themes to OWA that change
the look and feel of OWA, although using this feature means that your users can
no longer select their own look for OWA.

Visit Microsoft’s Web site to download the Outlook Web Access Web Administration tool. It requires installation to a server running Windows 2000, XP, or 2003, and it also requires IIS with ASP.NET support enabled, and version 1.1 of the .NET
Framework. Microsoft recommends against installing the tool directly to
Exchange servers, and instead suggests that the tool is installed to an
administrator’s workstation or to a different server.

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