It's almost here. According to the latest Technet Flash newsletter, Exchange Server 2007 with Service Pack 1 will be available for download on November 30, 2007.
Exchange 2007 SP1 requires Windows 2003 servers to be upgraded to Windows 2003 sp2. Service Pack 1 for the .Net Framework version 1.1 is also recommended prior to installing Exchange 2007 with Service Pack 1, but is not required. See Microsoft KB 867460 for coverage on the .Net Framework fixes for that update. Exchange 2007 SP1 is a significant update to an RTM product accused of leaving expected features out in favor of a more timely release date. Service Pack 1 reconciles some of those missing features with our expectations of the product.
SP1 brings the administration of a couple of components back into the user interface. The Exchange Management Console can now be used to configure POP3 and IMAP4 server settings, including connection control, port settings, and authentication settings. Public Folder administration is also added to the EMC in SP1. For the original Exchange 2007 release, these had to be managed through the Exchange Management Shell (EMS).
One of the most anticipated new features for Exchange 2007 is the addition of Standby Continuous Replication (SCR). This is similar to other high availability features in Exchange 2007, Local Continuous Replication (LCR) and Cluster Continuous Replication (CCR). SCR shares the same technology but allows for multiple passive copies of the Exchange database for remote standby servers. By itself, this is not an automatic failover mechanism, but rather a manual process in the event of a major failure of the source server. There are also improvements to performance, monitoring and administration as well. Exchange 2007 SP1 is required to install Exchange on Windows Server 2008. Several enhancements have been made to Exchange 2007 to leverage advancements in Windows 2008. Microsoft has made an effort to simplify clustering in 2008 while improving its performance and scope. For example, Exchange 2007 SP1 on Windows 2008 allows for cluster networks across multiple, even geographically dispersed subnets. There are now many more options to Exchange clustering than ever before. Windows 2008 also introduces support for IPv6 allowing communication between appropriately addressed IPv6 devices.
SP1 for Exchange 2007 adds some Transport configuration and Send Connector configuration options to the EMC. In Exchange 2007, there was a free disk space requirement of 4GB, which a couple of people I know found out the hard way. That requirement has been reduced to 500MB in SP1. This along with enhancements to the algorithm improves Back Pressure resource monitoring.
In Outlook, messages can be assigned an importance or priority of either Low Importance, High Importance or normal. With SP1, the Exchange 2007 Transport role will now assign priority queuing to messages assigned a high priority. Hopefully your CxO won't realize this and send everything with the High Importance flag. Transport can now better manage messages with Rights Management applied to them using Outlook. The Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD RMS) pre-licensing agent is included in Exchange 2007 SP1. There are many prerequisites for its use, including applying SP1 to all Hub Transport servers in the organization, but once these have been met, configuration is just a matter of enabling the feature.
Improvements have been added for Edge Server synchronization and Edge Server configuration cloning scripts. Unified Messaging messages can now be better manipulated with Transport rules as well.
In addition to the updates of the UI for the legacy protocols (POP/IMAP), Outlook Web Access and ActiveSync also enjoy some improvements. OWA adds back some functionality present in Exchange 2003, including the ability for the user to create and maintain rules through the OWA interface. OWA 2007 SP1 brings back a surprisingly much-requested Monthly view and S/MIME makes a return appearance. The selection of attachments that can be converted to HTML in the message body, called WebReady Document Viewing, have increased, adopting more of the Office 2007 file formats. OWA users can also maintain personal distribution lists when accessing OWA on a Client Access Server with Exchange 2007 SP1 installed.
With SP1, a default mailbox policy is generated for ActiveSync along with improvements to policies. SP1 also adds the ability to remote wipe a mobile device, which is a very valuable feature in many industries.
We just scratched the surface of the changes administrators and users will experience with Exchange 2007 SP1. If these improvements and features do not inspire you, then maybe you might make the transition to service pack 1 to get easy access to the new OWA themes. SP1 adds Zune and XBox 360 themes, both of which are an acquired taste.
Exchange server SP1 download
You can read in more detail all the improvements and additions to Exchange 2007 through Service Pack 1 at the Exchange Tech Center at https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb676323.aspx. For a less formal, but often more relevant breakdown of individual features in SP1 and other aspects of Exchange Server, be sure to read the Exchange Team blog at //www.msexchangeteam.com. They certainly had me at EHLO.