So, I have been waiting and waiting and waiting to finally start talking about what is coming in Service Pack 1 for Exchange Server 2010. Although the NDA I am held to will not allow me to tell you everything that is coming in SP1, I can still talk a bit about the features already revealed by this EHLO blog article.
First of all, what can we say is coming in SP1?
- Feature enhancements to OWA
- Mobile user and management improvements
- EMC UI enhancements
- Online Arching and Discovery enhancements
- Server side PST export/import (without Outlook)
- Message Records Management (Retention Tagging) tool improvements in EMC
- ActiveSync Enhancements including tether-free IRM support
- The usual hotfix inclusions
- And so many more (that darn NDA!)
There are so many changes and improvements, that I hardly know where to start. So, I will just dive right in and start at the top of this list.
Outlook Web App
This set of changes is the most visible to end users and is a very welcome set of updates. To start with, OWA once again has themes. These themes are many and varied and are selectable right from the main OWA page by clicking on “Options”
Within OWA, you can also select multiple messages for action (similar to Gmail or your iPhone/iPAD). Exchange CAS server will also allow for your browser to pre-fetch message content within OWA so that actions users take will feel instantaneous and will not slow down their browsing experience.
The entire interface has been simplified and cleaned up a lot. I showed the new interface to my children (ages 15 – 7) and they felt right at home in the new interface without much instruction from me at all. One of the most asked about feature in OWA was to once again enable the reading pane to be placed at the bottom or the right side (RTM only enabled the right side). This has been updated in SP1.
Archiving and E-Discovery
To start with, we can now create the Online Archive mailbox on a different database than the users primary mailbox (YEAH!!). This enables us to design the system with tiered storage and availability policies. And to go one step further, if you provision the archive with the intention of consuming the users PST archives, we can now import the PST file directly into the Archive right on the server and without Outlook being installed on the server. Once last note, Microsoft is also planning on releasing an update to Outlook 2007 that will enable it to see and participate in the Online Archives.
On the E-Discovery front, a few changes exist there as well, including search preview and search result de-duplication. Also, when reviewing the search results, you can now add annotations to your review to make your task more efficient.
Archiving and E-Discovery
Since many administrators prefer to use the Exchange Management Console (EMC) instead of Powershell (EMS), Microsoft has placed a great deal of emphasis on UI improvements in SP1 including those in EMC and ECP. Some of the improvements are:
Create/configure Retention Tags + Retention Policies in EMC
Configure Transport Rules in ECP
Configure Journal Rules in ECP
Configure MailTips in ECP
Provision and configure the Personal Archive in ECP
Configure Litigation Hold in ECP & EMC
Configure Allow/Block/Quarantine mobile device policies in ECP
RBAC role management in ECP
Configure Database Availability Group (DAG) IP Addresses and Alternate Witness Server in EMC
Recursive public folder settings management (including permissions) in EMC
So, to close this blog post, I have to say that this Service Pack is one of the best ones in recent memory and since I know for a fact that most of what it contains are a direct consequence of the feedback many customers and architects like myself have provided.
I sincerely thank the Exchange Product Group for listening and taking what your customers say to heart and then doing what is needed to make the product that much better.
As time and my NDA permits, I will blog on more features and improvements coming in SP1. Until then, you can look forward to obtaining your own copy of Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 1 beta around the TechEd timeframe in June.