Microsoft readying SP3 for Exchange 2007

After reversing course on Exchange 2007 support, Microsoft now says a third service pack for the messaging server

After reversing course on Exchange 2007 support, Microsoft now says a third service pack for the messaging server that adds compatibility with Windows Server 2008 R2 will ship in the second half of next year.

In addition, Microsoft said it now supports write functions to Active Directory from Exchange 2003 SP2. The changes, according to Microsoft, were based on customer feedback.

Microsoft stopped short of filling every Exchange request from users, saying it will not provide in-place upgrades for servers running underneath Exchange 2007. But company officials left the topic up for debate for future versions of Exchange.

Kevin Allison, general manager of the Exchange customer experience for Microsoft, said on the Exchange team blog Monday that the changes are now reflected in Exchange's Supportability Matrix.

The changes reverse course for Microsoft, which explained to users in late September why it kept Exchange 2007 SP2 off of Windows Server 2008 R2. A few weeks later, however, Allison said user feedback forced Microsoft to reverse that decision. On Monday, Allison laid out the timeframe for delivery of Exchange 2007 SP3.

The SP3 software will come in the second half of 2010, he wrote, adding, "While we had hoped to add this application/operating system combination quickly, unfortunately adding this support requires code changes to setup in Exchange 2007."

He also said Exchange 2003 SP2 is now supported "against writeable Windows Server 2008 R2 Active Directory Servers." In addition, he said, "With the general availability of Exchange Server 2010, and those looking to standardize on Windows Server 2008 R2 we have enhanced the supportability of forest and domain functional levels up to Windows Server 2008 R2."

He said those changes are available now for those using Exchange 2003 SP2.

Allison also added a third change to the Supportability Matrix and said Exchange 2007 is now supported on servers running .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 as long as it was upgraded from the 2.0 version. The change also applies to Exchange 2007 SP2.

Allison explained that the changes were made per customer request to "provide the flexibility you requested -- to change your operating system architecture without changing your messaging architecture."

But he stopped short on the question of in-place upgrades of servers supporting Exchange.

"We do understand the demand and desire and it is something we will continue to look at for future versions of the product," Allison wrote. In the case of Exchange 2007, he said, "technically the work required to provide this capability is consistent with the work we would need to do to support an in-place upgrade of Exchange itself. As such the amount of work needed is outside the scope and complexity of what we can do in a post release product update."

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