Microsoft's support tweaks leave some email admins out in the cold
Pulls Exchange 2007 SP2 rug from under Windows Server 2008 R2
Microsoft’s wonky Exchange Server roadmap has claimed a high-class victim in Redmond’s 22 October OS launch assault, as its recently released Exchange Server 2007 SP2 won’t support Windows Server 2008 R2.
The software giant quietly revealed the decision in a backwater blog post on Monday.
"Two primary technical points drove our decision to not support Windows Server 2008 R2,” said Microsoft’s Nino Bilic on 21 September.
“First, Windows Server 2008 R2, while an incremental OS upgrade, creates significant testing requirements for Exchange 2007. Because the Exchange 2007 SP2 engineering preceded the Windows Server 2008 R2 RTM, Exchange 2007 SP2 would have had to be delayed significantly to align testing schedules.”
He added that because upgrading the server OS underneath an existing Exchange server wasn’t supported, MS has made the painful decision to ditch Exchange 2007 SP2 support and focus instead on the existing Exchange 2007 deployment on Windows Server 2008 R2 domain controllers.
David Lowe, Microsoft’s Windows Server group product manager, said at a demo of Windows Server 2008 R2 today at the firm's London office that the decision was the right one. This was because IT departments were “more likely to do a joint upgrade of Win Server 08 R2 and Exchange Server 2010.”
Customers still using Exchange Server 2007 would probably stay put with either Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server 2008, he said.
All very well, you might agree. But where does it leave customers who want to upgrade to Windows Server 08 R2 when it arrives late next month, and apply the latest service pack for Microsoft’s current mail server that was, perhaps in hindsight, hastily rushed out in August this year? Effectively stuck between a rock and a hard place.
And, to add insult to injury, sys admins who plan to deploy Exchange Server 2010 when it arrives next year will first be required to upgrade their mail servers to, wait for it, Exchange Server 2007 SP2.
No wonder then, that Microsoft didn’t make a big song-and-dance about the decision.
Helpfully though, the company has created a website and “a wizard that’s really enjoyable to use” for IT managers to wade through and find out what the upcoming Windows Server 2008 R2 release will and won’t support.
For example, if you want the following configuration - Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1 on Hyper-V with Windows Server 2008 R2 (x64) Guest OS - then tough cos Redmond simply doesn’t support it.
All of which might leave Microsoft open to criticism it is probably all too familiar with. IT departments might complain that such a decision was simply an attempt by Redmond to swiftly shunt Server 2008 R2 customers over to Exchange 2010.
“We felt that thoroughly validating the combination of Exchange 2010 on Windows Server 2008 R2 allowed us to focus on delivering great solutions which would be fully tested and would support the features of Windows Server 2008 R2,” said Bilic.
He also acknowledged that the move meant there would be "some downstream impacts" relating to admin-only installs.
"This is a hard trade-off to make, but we believe it is the right one and a good balance between serving existing customers and driving innovation. Hope that this sheds some light on the subject!" ®
I've got one word for you .......
Oh come on now
If you're the least bit surprised by something like this, you haven't been working in IT long enough...
Moving along, nothing to see here.
Some unusual dependencies
Exchange has an Installable File System driver which presents the Store as a file system. In Exchange 2000, this was presented as drive M:, but since Exchange 2003 it has not been mapped as a drive letter, so that anti-virus and backup tools don't randomly lock 'files'. Various parts of Exchange, such as Outlook Web Access, use this file system.
This driver was what prevented Exchange 2003 from being installed on a 64-bit OS, because the driver was 32-bit and Windows requires that the drivers match the OS. I can imagine that the driver from Exchange Server 2007 isn't compatible with a new version of Windows, which despite its minor version number tweak has significant changes to the kernel. It is Windows 7 Server, rather than Windows Vista Server.
It's not about blocking a service pack - it's that NO VERSION of Exchange Server 2007 will work on Windows Server 2008 R2. Not supported. The discussion of domain controllers is around ensuring that if you upgrade your DCs to Server 2008 R2, thereby upgrading the schema, that Exchange will still work - Exchange uses Active Directory as its configuration database and user directory. It has never been a recommended configuration to run Exchange directly on the domain controller - this doesn't stop people doing it, of course.
For the moment, anyone introducing a new Exchange 2007 server into their environment will have to choose Windows Server 2003 - in mainstream support until July next year, extended support until 2015 - or Windows Server 2008 (not 'R2'), in mainstream support until 2013. You should normally have at least one dedicated Exchange server anyway, rather than combining roles, so there is no reason to use the new OS.
Re: Wise decision
"just do nothing and save on all licenses for another 3 years until Windows 2013/Exchange 2013 are released, and then you can save again waiting for Windows 2016/Exchange 2016. You will also save on hardware."
An excellent idea... which seems to be increasingly understood...
Why go through all those years of paying and pain? NO IDEA!
Who benefits? NOT THE CUSTOMER!
The end is nigh for MS
As others have mentioned, MS have gotten to the point that their OS and apps have such a terrifying number of inter-dependancies that no one is really sure what is going on. Good coders know that good code is always loosely coupled. Microsoft have forgotten this somewhere along the line and have created what is without a doubt the most tightly coupled software suite in the short history of computer programming.
They have gotten to the point where they are finding it increasingly difficult to make their different apps interoperate without problems. They seem to have a lets-run-it-on-this-and-fix-the-parts-that-break method of getting everything to co-operate.
They can't keep it up forever.
*sigh* I'm soooo sick of the BillG icon. Surely it's time for a refresh?