• 1. London, UK
  • 2. New York, NY
  • 3. Sydney, Australia
  • 4. Melbourne, Australia
  • 5. Moscow, Russia
  • 6. Singapore
  • 7. Paris, France
  • 8. Chicago, IL
  • 9. Hong Kong
  • 10. Houston, TX
Bharat Suneja

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Windows 7 reaches the 100 million mark

Posted by Bharat Suneja at 10:46 PM

Ten days after Windows 7's October 22 launch, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said:
Certainly we’ve seen initial sales be fantastic. The first ten days were bigger than the first ten days of XP or Vista or any other Windows launch that we have done.
All Things Digital's John Paczkowski responded with Well, What Did You Expect Him to Say? Windows 7 Is Selling Poorly?. Needless to say, similar pronouncements by Steve Jobs about iPhones/iPods/Macs/OS X would've resulted in a media frenzy of epic proportions.

During the first month, Windows 7 sprinted past the total market share of all versions of Apple's OS X according to Internet metrics vendor Net Applications.

Six months after its launch, Windows 7 has sold more than 100 million copies, becoming the fastest selling OS ever. The OS claimed a 10% share of the PC market in February (Macs included). Not surprisingly, Windows revenues have grown 28% in the last quarter, as reported by CFO Peter Klein during last week's earnings announcement.

Interestingly, Apple's clever Mac v/s PC advertising seems to have run its course. "I'm a PC" is in! Along with the laptop hunter ads, it proves clever advertising isn't the exclusive domain of one company. InfoWorld's "Save XP" campaign has faded into oblivion (along with its infamous desktop computing expert, and his alterego).

Using Windows 7 is a pleasure. The user experience is top-notch. The performance is unquestionably better than its predecessors. Nobody's having driver issues. Everything just works. And writing about Windows flaws doesn't sell any magazines or boost pageviews for tech publications.

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Friday, April 16, 2010


Office 2010 RTMs

Posted by Bharat Suneja at 5:27 PM
Office 2010, the wave 14 release of Microsoft Office, has been released to manufacturing (RTM) today. Congratulations to the Office team - using this shiny new version of Office is a pleasure! There's lot to like in all of the Office apps - Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Word, Visio, Project— and Outlook 2010 really shines!

There's a long list of new features and improvements, and the new ribbon UI is now all pervasive inside Outlook. For more on the Outlook 2010 user experience, check out The Look and Feel of Outlook 2010 on the Outlook team blog.

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010


Announced: Exchange 2010 SP1, Beta in June

Posted by Bharat Suneja at 6:15 AM
Microsoft has just announced Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 1! A beta of the feature-laden SP1 is headed your way come June 2010. Some of the juicy new features in SP1 include the ability to locate the Personal Archive on a different mailbox database than the one where the user's primary mailbox is located (a much requested feature— In Exchange 2010 RTM, both the primary and the archive mailboxes need to be on the same database). Some of the other new features include:
  • Import PST Files: Import historical e-mail data from PST files directly into Exchange 2010
  • Delegate access to a user's Personal Archive
  • MRM (Retention Policies + Retention Tags) UI in EMC
  • Multi-Mailbox Search (aka Discovery): Search preview to obtain an estimate of number of items in search result-set with keyword statistics— before messages are copied to the discovery mailbox
  • Multi-Mailbox Search: Search result de-duplication— only copies one instance of a message to the discovery mailbox, reduces amount of messages you need to review following the search
  • Multi-Mailbox Search: Annotation of reviewed items
  • Support access to a user's Personal Archive in Outlook 2007
  • OWA: Pre-fetch message content
  • OWA: Delete, mark-as-read, and categorize operations run asynchronously
  • OWA: Long-running operations such as attaching a very large file will not block the rest of the OWA experience
  • OWA: Number of other UI improvements
  • Calendar Sharing: Users can share calendars with anonymous viewers via the web (provided the admin enables the capability)
  • OWA: Web-Ready Document Viewing of IRM-protected documents in Safari on a Mac, and FireFox and Internet Explorer on Windows
  • OWA: OWA themes are back!
  • OWA: Reading pane can be placed on the bottom or on the right
  • Mobility: Tether-free IRM support in EAS
  • Mobility: Support for Send-As
  • Mobility: Notifying users if their device is placed on block or quarantine
  • Mobility: Full implementation of conversation view
  • Management UI: Exchange 2010 SP1 brings plenty of new management UI in both EMC and ECP, including:

    • 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 Personal Archive in ECP
    • Configure Litigation Hold in ECP
    • Configure Allow/Block/Quarantie mobile device policies in ECP
    • RBAC role management in ECP
    • Configure DAG IP Addresses and Alternate Witness Server in EMC
    • Recursive public folder settings management (including permissions) in EMC

For more info and video, head over to Yes Virginia, There's An Exchange 2010 SP 1 on the Exchange team blog.

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Geek Out With Perry: New Video Series and Blog

Posted by Bharat Suneja at 12:41 PM
It's been over two months since I posted here! No, I'm not taking a break, at least not an intentional one, and hopefully will get back to posting regularly soon. Meanwhile, check out the posts on the Exchange team blog.

And if you've been monitoring the team blog, you must have come across (and read with interest, I hope) the Top 10 Exchange Storage Myths post and the Large Mailbox Vision whitepaper posted on the Microsoft site. Yes, 'tis the season of large and very large (and low cost) mailboxes, and with features such as Exchange 2010's Personal Archive, the multitude of performance improvements and continuous lowering of disk I/O requirements in Exchange 2007 and 2010, coupled with Outlook's perf improvements (Outlook 2007 SP2 and Outlook 2010), we're seeing Exchange mailboxes get a lot larger! Interestingly, 2 Gb+ is now the norm in many organizations, and 10 Gb mailboxes on their way to the "not unusual" territory!

I myself crossed the 5 Gb. limit on my own mailbox, hosted on Exchange 2010 RTM server. Glad to say it's working very well with Outlook 2010 and OWA, and I'm allowing myself to get a little sloppier as far as filing messages in folders goes. Exchange Search (and Windows Search — used by Outlook when accessing Exchange Server in cached mode) continue to provide great search capability.

Exchange GM Perry Clarke, one of Exchange's thought leaders, has started blogging, and you'll find many of his thoughts around ever-increasing mailbox size and storage trends very interesting. Check out the new video series — Geeking Out With Perry, and Perry's first blog post— Getting the conversation started.

Perry— welcome to the blogosphere! I look forward to future episodes from the video series, and more blog posts.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010


How did it feel to beat Google?

Posted by Bharat Suneja at 3:21 PM
Every time I pass the Microsoft Silicon Valley campus in Mountain View, I'm amused and amazed that a Microsoft campus is in close proximity to Yahoo, Google, and other Silicon Valley bellwethers. The talent here is amazing!

If you haven't done so already, check out BingTweets, which fuses Bing's search results and real-time content from Twitter.

The San Jose Mercury News carried an interesting story over the weekend about how Bing's Silicon Valley-based team beat search engine giant Google to real-time search. Interestingly, Microsoft engineers Chad Carson and Eric Scheel, and their boss Sean Suchter— formerly VP of Search at Yahoo, planned it all aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 321 enroute to Seattle. The new search team at the Silicon Valley campus includes heavyweights like database expert and former IBMer Ashok K. Chandra— "a professorial presence who sounds like a poet when he compares creating computer algorithms to the view from the summit of Mount Whitney", and Shubha Nabar, a "newly-minted" Ph. D. from Stanford.

By the time Flight 321 was over Oregon, the group in Row 6 had evolved from a technology klatch to a cabal of plotters who scrawled a schematic tangle of boxes on a sheet of paper to map out something no big Internet search engine had yet achieved. The three members of Microsoft's new Silicon Valley search team would try to make their company's Bing a window into America's stream of consciousness, serving up the chatter on Twitter and blog posts, with the latest updates on everything from celebrity gossip to breaking news.
Another interesting factoid many here in Silicon Valley may relate to— the plan didn't involve a PowerPoint.
The afternoon of the Seattle flight, Suchter stood before his boss in Redmond, Harry Shum, and pulled the dog-eared sheet of paper from his back pocket. This, Suchter told Shum, handing him the marked-up page, is what the team wants to do.

"I know I've got to get worried when you're giving me your plans drawn on a piece of paper and not in PowerPoint," Shum said. But he approved the effort.
When asked how it felt to beat Google, Suchter responds:
That was fun— retroactively. We didn't know we were going to catch them. We kind of though we would, but who knew?
More in Microsoft's Challenge: 90 days to beat Google on mercurynews.com.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Microsoft and Research in Motion have just announced full BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) support for Exchange 2010 - the earliest customers have been able to deploy BlackBerry smartphones with a new Exchange release— ever.

You'll need the just-released Update Rollup 1 for Exchange 2010, Exchange Server MAPI Client v6.5.8147, and BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.01 Maintenance Release 1 (MR1).

More from Paul Bowden in BlackBerry Enterprise Server fully supported on Exchange 2010 on the Exchange team blog.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009


Cloned machines and duplicate SIDs

Posted by Bharat Suneja at 6:01 PM
It's been over 4 years since I wrote about the duplicate SID issue in SID error on cloned Virtual Server / VPC / VMWare OSes. I recommended using the NewSID utility from Sysinternals to fix the cloned machine.

Hyper-V wasn't around back then, and looking back it seems incredible that many of us survived without it (or your virtualization platform of choice).

Since then, I've only used sysprepped images, and the increasing reliance on virtual machines has translated into a time-saving and efficient method of creating cloned VMs at short notice. Using a sysprepped base image and differencing drives makes life incredibly simple, and even if you don't using differencing drive it works quite well. I highly recommend making at least one more copy of the base image and making the file read-only.

As far as the NewSID utility goes, Mark Russinovich recently posted about retiring it. More in The Machine SID Duplicate Myth.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Interestingly, after reporting last Friday 'Black Screen woes could affect millions on Windows 7, Vista and XP', and causing a furor amongst IT pros, users and the media, Prevx apologized for claiming a patch applied by Windows Update was the cause of the so-called 'Black Screen of Death'.

In last week's post, Prevx stated:
If you Google Black Screen then you will find a whopping 80 Million plus results, mostly dominated by people searching for a fix to this problem. Thousands of users have resorted to reloading Windows as a last ditch effort to fix the problem, avoid that at all cost. We hope we can help a good many of you avoid the need to reload.
Clicking on the link provided in Prevx's blog post, and the search results are nowhere close to the "whopping 80 Million plus results" Prevx claimed in its blog post. In fact, the number is inflated by almost 100%, and there's a good chance it's not 40 million users facing the issue, or even 20, 10, or 1 million.

On Monday (11/30), Microsoft said it is investigating the issue. A Microsoft representative also said:
Based on our investigation so far we can say that we're not seeing this as an issue from our support organization. The issues as described also do not match any known issues that have been documented in the security bulletins or (knowledge base) articles."
On Tuesday (12/1), Microsoft's Security Response Communications lead Chris Budd said in a statement:
The company has found those reports to be inaccurate and our comprehensive investigation has shown that none of the recently released updates are related to the behavior described in the reports.
Microsoft also said it had not been contacted by Prevx before going public with the issue. More in Microsoft: November security updates are fine on News.com.

Prevx backtracked in a follow-up post yesterday (12/1):
Having narrowed down a specific trigger for this condition we've done quite a bit of testing and re-testing on the recent Windows patches including KB976098 and KB915597 as referred to in our previous blog. Since more specifically narrowing down the cause we have been able to exonerate these patches from being a contributory factor.
Prevx apologized for the faux pax. However, its original post and the follow-up apology says nothing about informing Microsoft about a potential issue caused by a patch.

Tempting as it is to rush to blog and tweet about a critical bug or security issue one may have discovered, the responsible behavior is to contact the vendor, report the issue and request or even demand an investigation and a fix. As a customer you have every right to do so, and depending on the severity and impact of an issue, expect a fix within a reasonable time frame. If the vendor does not investigate or provide any explanation, go public.

This is not to say that the "black screen" issue many users may have been facing isn't real, but it's no excuse for insufficient testing, irresponsible reporting, and inflating the impact (quite dramatically in this case).

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Office 2010 Beta: Outlook 2010 Shines

Posted by Bharat Suneja at 10:14 PM
Now that Office 2010 Beta is officially available for download to TechNet and MSDN subscribers, here's a quick shout out to the Outlook team for what's shaping up to be an excellent, super-impressive, fabulous new release of Microsoft Outlook!

I've always preferred web-based apps, including Outlook Web Access (OWA) in the past, and Outlook Web App (still OWA!) in Exchange 2010. Like most IT pros, I use many different computers during the course of a day - laptops, desktops, servers, virtual machines, and RDP sessions. OWA is a natural fit for this type of usage.

But Outlook 2010 has won me over for its user experience, features, and user experience (in that order). Web-based e-mail apps/providers, with the exception of OWA 2010 of course, do not provide a comparable experience, and although a lot of emailing is now done on "Exchange ActiveSync-capable" mobile devices, if you have to use email on a real computer, there's no better way to email than Outlook 2010.

Want to check out how cool Outlook 2010 is? There's a video for that. Play it full screen to clearly see Outlook 2010 quick demos.

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Monday, November 09, 2009


Exchange Server 2010 Released

Posted by Bharat Suneja at 6:30 AM
Exchange Server 2010

Microsoft announced the release of Exchange Server 2010 today at Microsoft TechEd 2009 in Berlin. The release marks the first version of Exchange Server designed for the cloud, and provides customers the option of deploying it on-premises— the way Exchange Server has always been deployed, or use it as a service hosted by Microsoft, or a combination of the two.

Exchange Server CVP Rajesh Jha posts on the Exchange team blog:
This has been an incredible engineering endeavor that no one else in the industry comes close to delivering. Today, we've successfully scaled Exchange 2010 to more than 15 million Outlook Live accounts around the world and, moving forward, to millions more with Exchange Online. Our promise to deliver a seamless Exchange experience on premises with the server, in the cloud as a service or a combination of the two truly gives customers choice and peace of mind.
More in Exchange Server 2010 is now available worldwide! on the Exchange team blog.

Want to take Exchange 2010 for a test drive? Microsoft provides multiple ways for trying Exchange 2010. You can try Exchange 2010 by downloading the 120-day trial, or the pre-configured virtual machine for use with Windows 2008 Hyper-V. You can also experience Exchange 2010 and Office Communications Server 2007 R2 free for 60-days by signing up for the Unified Communications Virtual Experience.

Exchange Server 2010 120-day Trial: Build 14.00.0639.021
Exchange 2010 Release Candidate VHD: Exchange Server 2010 VHD image: This is a pre-configured VHD image which gets you started on your Exchange 2010 evaluation quickly without having to setup everything from scratch. Requires Windows 2008 Hyper-V.

Some links to get you started on the road to Exchange 2010:

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Windows 2008 R2 Support Coming for Exchange 2007

Posted by Bharat Suneja at 1:21 PM
Exchange 2007 will be supported on Windows Server 2008 R2, Kevin Allison, GM Exchange Customer Experience, posted on the Exchange team blog today. With the general availability of Exchange 2010 just around the corner, Microsoft had earlier decided not to update Exchange 2007 to support its latest server operating system. Exchange 2007 is supported on Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, and Windows Server 2008. This change in course is a result of customer feedback.

An update to Exchange 2007 will be released some time next year to enable full support for Windows Server 2008 R2. More in Supporting Exchange 2007 on Windows Server 2008 R2 on the Exchange team blog.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 2 is now available for download. SP2 adds support for Windows Powershell v2, and allows coexistence with Exchange Server 2010.

SP2 also adds support for VSS backups of Exchange 2007 on Windows Server 2008. More in Details of Exchange 2007 SP2 in-box backup when running on Windows Server 2008 on the Exchange team blog.

There's also support for monitoring named properties. For background, see Jason Nelson's post Named Properties, X-Headers, and You. As Jason notes in Named Properties, Round 2: What lies Ahead
(In SP2) ...No x-headers are ever promoted to individual properties if a client has not already requested (and mapped) them.
Finally, head over to Service Pack 2 Preview: Get-NamedProperty for more details on how to use Get-NamedProperty.

Exchange 2007 SP2 updates the Active Directory schema. Details of schema changes, including new attributes and classes, and modifications to existing ones can be found in Active Directory Schema Changes (SP2).

Note, once you install SP2, you cannot uninstall it without uninstalling Exchange 2007 from the server.

Microsoft recommends upgrading Exchange 2007 servers in the following order:
  1. Client Access Servers (CAS)
  2. Unified Message (UM) servers
  3. Hub Transport servers
  4. Edge Transport servers
  5. Mailbox servers
More details and important deployment considerations in Exchange 2007 SP2 Release Notes.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Released: Exchange 2010 Release Candidate

Posted by Bharat Suneja at 6:56 AM
Exchange Server 2010

Microsoft has released Exchange 2010 Release Candidate— a feature-complete version of the next release of Exchange Server. It is available for download here. You will be able to upgrade from the Release Candidate to the RTM version, due later this year.

Looking back, Exchange has come a long way in its 14-year history. Microsoft's Michael Atalla notes in a blog post on the Exchange team blog:
When we shipped the first version of Exchange about fourteen years ago, IBM/Lotus dominated the space. According to a 2008 Ferris research report, Notes/Domino share has dwindled to a mere 10% in enterprises, while Exchange has grown to 65% market share across all organizations and continues to grow with more than 4.7M starting the switch to Exchange last year. In fact, Exchange is now is approaching $2B in annual revenues. If Exchange were a standalone business, it would be the 9th largest software company in the world. We expect that momentum to accelerate with Exchange 2010, the most compelling version yet.
More in Exchange Server 2010 Release Candidate Available Today!

Exchange 2010 is a 64-bit only release— Microsoft released a 32-bit version of Exchange 2007 for testing and training, during Exchange's transition to the 64-bit platform. Not surprisingly, in-place upgrades from previous Exchange Server versions are not supported. (In-place upgrades stopped being supported from Exchange 2007, and most Exchange folks do not prefer or use this method for upgrading Exchange servers.)

There is a lot to look forward to in Exchange 2010, and end-users will enjoy the many new features. I am particularly excited about the new Outlook Web App (yes, the new OWA. Note, the acronym remains the same), the productivity-boosting conversation view that'll help users better manage their email, MailTips, the new self-help features including users' ability to track messages from OWA and manage distribution groups. There's plenty to look forward to for IT pros and organizations as well, and we'll continue to look at these new features on Exchangepedia.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Perhaps I should've used a different headline for this post. Something like "InfoWorld's conspiracy to derail the Windows 7 product launch". But that would be giving in to exactly the temptation I want to highlight— the one many bloggers, writers, and editors fall victim to, or otherwise find hard to resist in the quest for more pageviews.

Somewhere in the blogosphere, someone reports a "critical Windows 7 bug". One tech writer sees it as a "catastrophic bug" in Windows 7 which could "derail the Windows 7 launch".

Although the writer didn't discover the bug, and I'm not quite sure if the headlines are the writer's own or the handiwork of an over-zealous editor, but the outcome is an article with a sensational headline that screams for attention— Critical Windows 7 bug risks derailing product launch.

The sub-headline is equally interesting: An apparent fatal flaw in the NTFS driver stack may bring Microsoft's Windows 7 impending victory parade to a grinding halt.

What's wrong with Windows 7? In the writer's words:
The bug in question -- a massive memory leak involving the chkdsk.exe utility -- appears when you attempt to run the program against a secondary (that is, not the boot partition) hard disk using the "/r" (read and verify all file data) parameter. The problem affects both 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and is classified as a "showstopper" in that it can cause the OS to crash (Blue Screen of Death) as it runs out of physical memory.
Sounds like a serious security vulnerability, and the writer suggests it is exactly that.
Also worth considering: This command can be executed in a nonelevated context under the looser Windows 7 UAC implementation (Vista requires elevation of this command via the normal user consent dialog before continuing). Not only is this a potentially catastrophic bug from a functional standpoint, it also opens up a new attack vector for malicious code. Hackers may be able to use this unprotected command to destabilize a system (by consuming almost all available RAM), and in extreme cases, cause it to fail altogether.
As reported, Microsoft has not been able to reproduce the bug.

I waited till I actually had the RTM code, and had the time to install and try this out on a couple of computers. Not only have I not been able to reproduce the blue screen, but as you can see in the following screenshot, UAC actually does prevent you from running chkdsk! And this is plain vanilla Windows 7 RTM with no updates, hotfixes, or changes to UAC settings.

Screenshot: UAC prevents running chkdsk /r on a computer with Windows 7 RTM
Figure 1: UAC prevents running chkdsk /r on a computer with Windows 7 RTM.

The writer's implication of this being a catastrophic bug that opens up a new attack vector is not true. The command is not "unprotected"— Windows requires an elevated prompt to run chkdsk.

I also ran the command with an elevated prompt, and failed again! Chkdsk did consume a fair amount of available memory, but nowhere close to the "massive amounts of memory" reported by the writer. Needless to say, the much feared blue screen of death (BSOD) was never encountered. (As a sidenote, I've not seen a blue screen in a long time. The last time I saw it was when I knowingly installed an unsigned driver, bypassing Windows' warnings urging me not to do so! When was the last time you saw one?)

Screenshot: Chkdsk consumes a fair amount of memory, but nowhere close to 90%. It graciously releases memory when required for other tasks.
Figure 2: Chkdsk consumes a fair amount of memory, but nowhere close to 90%. It graciously releases memory when required for other tasks.

On further testing, I also noticed that chkdsk graciously released memory when the system required it for other tasks, such as running other programs [see screenshot]. This is not very different from how Exchange Server has historically behaved as far as memory consumption goes. Some tasks require more memory, and if more memory is available, perhaps it's intended to be used at some point?

As a more-than-reasonably-technically-savvy user, I do not recollect running chkdsk more than once or twice in almost a decade. Yet, a so-called bug that can't really be reproduced easily— or reproduced at all, somehow becomes a catastrophic bug that "risks derailing product launch". Noted author and ZDNet columnist Ed Bott responds with A killer Windows 7 bug? Sorry, no. Ed explains further why this is not at all what it's made out to be.

In an unusual response, Windows division president Steven Sinofsky left a comment on the blog that reported this issue. Says Sinofsky:
While we appreciate the drama of ‘critical bug' and then the pickup of ‘showstopper' that I've seen, we might take a step back and realize that this might not have that defcon level.
And as you may have guessed, that got faithfully reported by InfoWorld in Windows president tries to calm fears of critical Windows 7 bug. Yet another headline for InfoWorld, and no questions asked about who stoked the fear to begin with.

[Update: Steven Sinofsky explains how Microsoft deals with bug reports, partially in response to this issue. Read What we do with a bug report? on the Engineering Windows 7 blog.]

Having had my own brush with InfoWorld editors and writers in the past (Details in "Save XP" Campaign: InfoWorld responds, and the facts about downgrade rights), all I can say is— it saddens me to see what used to be a well-regarded technical journal for geeks (and still has some excellent experts and writers I admire) accelerate its pace towards becoming the MAD magazine of tech journalism.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Ready, Set, 7: Windows 7 Released To Manufacturing

Posted by Bharat Suneja at 3:05 PM
Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 were released to manufacturing (RTMed) today. These will become generally available on October 22nd.

IT Pros and developers with TechNet or MSDN subscriptions will be able to download the English version on August 6th, with other languages following on October 1st.

If you've been waiting to get a new computer with Windows 7 pre-installed, you may have to wait a little longer as most hardware manufacturers complete their shipping images.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Over the past few weeks, Windows 7 Release Candidate has been widely downloaded, used, praised (including by some very vocal critics), and loved. It's easy to fall in love with the Windows 7 user experience, and I don't just mean the lovely wallpapers and themes that are in stark contrast to the kind of visual content that's been generally packaged with Microsoft products in the past. You can see the images in A Little Bit of Personality on the Engineering Windows 7 blog. The Wall Street Journal's Nick Wingfield calls them "some of the most visually arresting background images ever to ship with a piece of software". More in This is Your Windows on Drugs on wsj.com.

Last night, Brandon LeBlanc revealed box shots and details of Windows 7 packaging on the Windows blog. Head over to Check out the New Windows 7 Packaging.

One of the Windows 7 features I love is called Direct Access. It's like the Outlook Anywhere version of VPNs.

Outlook Anywhere, AutoDiscover, and Microsoft Communicator: A Seamless Unified Communications Experience
Outlook Anywhere allows Outlook 2007 + Exchange 2007 users to seamlessly access their mailbox from outside (and inside) the corporate network. Yes, part of it is of course RPC over HTTP(S)— available in Exchange 2003, but another important piece that makes this experience so transparent to the user is AutoDiscover.

You get out of work (or work remotely), turn on your laptop, and if you have Internet access Outlook 2007 just works as if you were in your office. No VPN connections to establish, no wondering if the required ports are open on the firewall, no additional authentication prompts, and full Outlook access! Although Outlook Web Access has increasingly become more like a full-fledged email client, for many folks there's simply no replacement for the full blown functionality of Microsoft Outlook. With Office Communications Server 2007 implemented right, you can have a similar experience with Microsoft Communicator - seamless access to Instant Messaging, presence information, and the all-important ability to connect to the "voice world".

Yes, the voice world, still an inseparable part of our work lives. The ability to click and talk to a Contact is handy, and found in many free IM and telephony services such as Skype. However, what's more impressive and important for many— you can dial phone numbers and receive inbound phone calls on your work phone number, regardless of your location. You can check voicemail, and also redirect calls to another phone number. The voice quality is good enough that it's hard to tell if one's using an ordinary phone or a VoIP phone.

Direct Access: Extending the Anywhere Experience
Windows 7's Direct Access feature extends this Anywhere Experience. It allows you to access network resources on your corporate network, without having to establish a VPN connection. Now you can turn on your laptop, and if you have Internet access, you can access file shares on your corporate network, use client/server apps, and use RDP to connect to servers/computers "on the other side".

DirectAccess uses IPv6-over-IPSec to encrypt communication, and supports multifactor authentication mechanisms such as smart cards.

Besides the initial "Wow!" moment, which inevitably follows the first experience with Direct Access, the combined Anywhere Experience boosts productivity, and improves satisfaction levels of remote/mobile workers.

Steve Riley explains why it's one of his favorite Windows 7 features:

More about Direct Access in DirectAccess enhances mobility and manageability, or download Technical Overview of DirectAccess in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 for a more in-depth technical look.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Microsoft responds to VMWare's FUD

Posted by Bharat Suneja at 12:48 AM
Much as I love blogging, I'm quite enjoying this unannounced break the past 3 weeks or so! A lot of interesting news, events (including TechEd 2009 in L.A.) and tidbits over the past weeks, and I'm sure you've kept up with it. (Incidentally, this also happened to be the first year in a long while when I actually took a break from TechEd!) What prompted me to end my unannounced break is the rather interesting turn the VMWare FUD has taken, with Microsoft's Jeff Woolsey, Principal Group Program Manager in the Windows Server Hyper-V team actually responding to VMWare on the Virtualization team blog.

Let's take a few steps back and look at the sequence of events.

Hyper-V Wows IT Pros and Critics Alike
It's no big secret that Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization platform has wowed users and critics alike in its very first release. ZDNet's Mary-Jo Foley posted a review of the pre-release Hyper-V code (by Jason Perlow):
Even though Hyper-V is still pre-1.0 code, I think Microsoft has done a bang-up job with its hypervisor, and it may just turn this Linux freak a Windows 2008 junkie for running his own personal virtualization needs. While VMWare's ESX is still superior on a number of fronts, including its aforementioned VMotion technology and its more powerful cluster management tools, Microsoft has certainly sent a major warning shot across its bow and the bows of the respective Linux vendors, as well.
More in Review: Microsoft's Hyper-V puts VMWare and Linux on notice on ZDNet.com.

InfoWorld's Randall C. Kennedy, who can never be accused of writing a kind word for Microsoft by any stretch of the imagination, calls Hyper-V a "technically sound, well-performing hypervisor..." in Test Center reveiw: Microsoft's Hyper-V does the trick.

I've been using Hyper-V myself for a while now, and given how easy it is to deploy as a server role in Windows Server 2008, or as a standalone virtualization server using Hyper-V Server 2008, I'm admittedly a big fan and excited about where this train's headed.

Scott Drummonds' Video: VMWare FUD?
Back to the VMWare episode— On May 1, 2009, a video titled "Hyper-V Crashes in Consolidated Environments" is posted on YouTube by drummonds1974. The video, which seems to have been updated since then, leads with the following text :
On April 30, 2009, Microsoft TechNet and MSDN went down.
In 2008, Microsoft announced TechNet and MSDN migration to Hyper-V.
Are these two events related?
The video shows some VMs running on Hyper-V crashing, and the mystery voice-over informs you Hyper-V is running a workload "based on VMmark". VMmark, in case you aren't already familiar with it, is an "industry-standard" virtualization benchmark— developed by VMWare.

Of course, no technical details about the particular test or the scenario are provided in the video. Towards the end, drummonds1974 quips:
.. in one of our tests, we actually got the parent partition to crash, which brought down the entire server. Here's a bluescreen of that happening...
You can't be blamed for thinking "Perhaps a childish prank by a newbie sysadmin who just learnt a new trick or two?"

The final screen of the video boldly concludes: Consolidated workloads crash Hyper-V.

The video was posted by Scott Drummonds, Technical Marketing Manager at VMWare.

Microsoft responds
Jeff Woolsey responded to the video in Hyper-V Winning Daily/VMWare FUD Reaching New Heights. Excerpt:
The poster, who doesn't appear on the video, doesn't state what company he works for or provide any context. Gee, I wonder where he works.
On the Hyper-V team, we run thousands of stress tests per week and the stress tests we run are far more invasive than the test in this video. So, I consulted our Hyper-V Supportability Program Manager and dug deeper. I wanted to know if we've had any Hyper-V crashes reported. Here's what I found out.

Of the 750,000 downloads, we've had 3 reports of crashes under stress and with the same error code as seen in the video bugcheck (0x00020001). The solution in all three cases was to upgrade the server BIOS which solved the problem. This can happen as hypervisors interact very closely with hardware and BIOS updates generally inlcude updated microcode for processors ofteintimes to address errata.

In case you're wondering, VMWare has had similar crashes with older BIOSes as well. Here.
Round 2: Drummonds' non-response
May 15, 2009: (The timestamp can't be correct, because Woosley's response to this post is actually dated May 9th... !) Back at VMWare, Scott Drummonds responds with Video on Hyper-V Crashes. Scott states:
..The video and descriptive text have raised more questions than answers.
Now, like me, if you watched the entire video about 5 times in an attempt to get any answers, much as you would appreciate the conciseness of Drummond's video, it was devoid of any answers. Drummonds continues to bash Hyper-V in his response:
...the run rules were violated to make Hyper-V produce its best results...

09 May 09 09:17: Over on the Virtualization team blog, Woolsey responds with Day Two of the Scott Drummonds VMWare FUD Fiasco. Rather than quote parts of it here, I'll let you read it and come to your own conclusion.

Of course, it doesn't end here!

Round 3: VMWare Responds, Again
May 14, 2009: VMWare's Bruce Herndon responds in Setting the Record Straight on the Hyper-V Video:
I am not exactly pleased to be writing on this particular subject in a public venue...
I can't help but comment here - Herndon is not exactly pleased about responding, but apparently, posting a public video on YouTube appears to be perfectly alright.
I had hoped that this whole kerfuffle would quickly die down, but it shows little sign of abating....
You hoped? Wihtout any details forthcoming for two weeks while a colleague from product marketing amateurishly bashes a competitor's product? As Woolsey points out,
In the meantime, VMware Sales Staff emails customers and would be customers to "check out this video" and VMware senior architects Twitter to "check out this video on You Tube"
Herndon ends his post with:
In the mean time, we intend to focus on helping to build amazing rock-solid products that our competitors can’t yet imagine.
Needless to say, I'm truly amazed by the attitude and tone of VMWare's posts!

Rather than reproducing Herndon's post and commenting on every bit, I'll let you head over to the Virtualization team's response from 17 May 09 10:01: VMware FUD Fiasco Part 3....

All I can say is— it's not the VMWare I know, and certainly not the many fine folks who work at its Palo Alto headquarters (I'm super-impressed with their new campus.. every bit as cool as Google's!). Perhaps the pressure of having real competition to deal with changes things? As Jason Perlow pointed out not too long ago:
Hyper-V represents the first stage of the mass-commodization of hypervisor technology, and if this beta release is any indication, it’s going to be a rough ride ahead for Microsoft’s competitors.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Earlier yesterday, Paul Thurrott and Rafael Rivera revealed a secret new feature in Windows 7— Windows XP Mode (XPM). XPM allows you to run Windows XP in a virtualized session, and includes a license for Windows XP SP3. As Thurrott & Rivera's blog post says:
Windows XP Mode dramatically changes the compatibility story for Windows 7 and, we believe, has serious implications for Windows development going forward.
Interestingly, XPM does not require you to run a separate desktop with Windows XP. Applications installed in the virtual environment are published to the Windows 7 host and shortcuts placed in the host's Start menu. Users can run Windows XP applications (installed in XPM) directly and transparently in Windows 7 desktop!

All I can say is— this is super cool! And although I haven't had a chance to try it out yet, it seems application compatibility is quickly headed to be a non-issue with Windows 7.

More details in Secret No More: Revealing Windows XP Mode for Windows 7 on Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows, and screenshots in Windows XP Mode for Windows 7 Screens.

Scott Woodgate confirmed it later in Coming Soon: Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC on the Windows Blog.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Released: Exchange 2010 Beta

Posted by Bharat Suneja at 6:00 AM
The word is out— the product hitherto known as E14 has hit the streets as Exchange 2010 beta! Download it here (Note: 64-bit only).

As Exchange CVP Rajesh Jha points out on the Exchange team blog (read 'Presenting Exchange 2010'), the latest and greatest version of Exchange Server is built from the ground up with Software + Services in mind, and is already being used by 5 million Outlook Live users! In case you missed it, Outlook Live is the free email service available to universities, formerly known as Exchange Labs.

The reviews are already pouring in:

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Monday, February 16, 2009

The moment finally arrived. At a much anticipated press conference at MWC 2009 in Barcelona, Spain, Microsoft revealed Windows Mobile 6.5, the next version of Windows Mobile software that will power smartphones from many mobile headset manufacturers such as LG and HTC.

Microsoft also announced Windows Marketplace for Mobile, an app store that will provide Windows Mobile apps, and MyPhone, a service to synchronize data on your Windows Mobile phone to the web.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009


Did pigs fly? Exchange embraces FireFox, Safari

Posted by Bharat Suneja at 6:30 AM
It was a common belief Microsoft would never support the premium Outlook Web Access (OWA) experience on web browsers other than Internet Explorer (IE). OWA Premium, as you may already know, is the feature-rich OWA. Non-IE browsers such as FireFox and Safari have been relegated to the “reach” experience of OWA Light, with a reduced feature set. When asked if Microsoft would ever support the OWA Premium experience on other browsers, the common response from the skeptics has forever been: Sure, when pigs fly.

If Microsoft licensing ActiveSync to Google (earlier this week..!) was a precursor of things to come, this year may prove to be the Year-of-the-Flying-Pig!

In a video just posted on the Exchange team blog, KC Lemson announces full browser parity in Exchange14, the next version of Exchange Server, and ExchangeLabs— the services offering already running on Exchange14. The video includes a demo of Exchange 14’s support for FireFox, and Safari, in all its premium goodness. This puts all the three popular browsers on par for accessing Exchange14 using Outlook Web Access.

ExchangeLabs, the hosted Exchange service (aka "Exchange-in-the-cloud", or the "cloud offering") Microsoft provides for free to students and alumni is now called Outlook Live. It already hosts 3.5 million mailboxes, and is now available to faculty and staff as well.

Also demoed in the video is the new Conversation view of email threads, something that's been on many users' wishlists. The ability to view an entire conversation together, being able to delete it together, and Exchange14’s implementation should make our lives more productive dealing with the ever-increasing volume of email.

Wait, that’s not all – Outlook Web Access/Outlook Live also includes integrated instant messaging, bringing email, voicemail, and instant messaging (IM) into a single client. Now you can see presence information integrated within OWA, and start a conversation from within the browser window.

To find out more and watch the video (including what may be the first-ever demo of Exchange features on a MacBook Pro :-), head over to ‘Introducing Outlook Live for schools – and cool new features for everyone’ on the Exchange team blog. Make sure you post what you think of the dramatic intro music in the video! :)

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Monday, February 09, 2009


Google joins the Exchange ActiveSync bandwagon

Posted by Bharat Suneja at 2:01 PM
Google is the latest addition in a long list of Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) licensees.

In what may be one of the briefest press releases ever, Microsoft announced Google's licensing Exchange ActiveSync as "a clear acknowledgement of the innovation taking place at Microsoft". Google will use ActiveSync for its Google Sync service announced today.

After Apple's embrace of ActiveSync for its iPhone, will Google add ActiveSync support to its Android mobile phone OS? The licensing agreement announced today does not cover Android, as CNET's Ina Fried reports in Microsoft, Google in rare technology pact.

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Friday, February 06, 2009


CNET's Idea of Tech News

Posted by Bharat Suneja at 12:30 PM
Although otherwise very readable publications/sites, some tech media outlets increasingly come up with news that really isn't news, and certainly not worthy of publication. For instance, this item in CNET's News.com: Georgetown University bans use of Windows 7 beta

Given such media coverage, you can't be blamed for wondering: "Wow, there must be something wrong with Windows 7 to prompt Georgetown to ban it!".

The fact that it's a beta, and the title of this apparently newsworthy (according to someone at CNET) item says so, doesn't quite register.

The writer quotes Paul McDougall's report from InformationWeek. It's a practice which, as you may have noticed over the past few years, absolves the quoting reporter of any responsibility to give it a serious thought or otherwise use common sense! Needless to say, "<Blah> bans the use of Windows 7 beta" is an excellent headline, bound to result in more than its fair share of page views. It sells.

Of course, there's no debate about the underlying facts - CNET's simply reporting what's been reported by another reporter in another publication! InformationWeek's original headline beats what CNET came up with: Windows 7 Beta Flunks Out Of Georgetown! It even comes with a juicier sub-title: University's IT department nixes downloads of Microsoft's new operating system.

A look at the source
To find out what Georgetown's University Information Services (UIS) really stated in its policy, let's head to the source doc on UIS' web site:
Microsoft Corporation recently released a "beta", or "pre-release", version of its new operating system, Windows 7. However, UIS strongly discourages using it.
The UIS doc goes on to explain what a beta is, and why you shouldn't install Windows 7 beta. The doc cites Microsoft's Windows 7 web site:
Microsoft's Windows 7 Web site states emphatically that there are risks associated with installing beta version of Windows 7 and that "it's not a finished product."
The doc goes on to state UIS' policy on software support.

Not trusting my own eyes, and my reading and comprehension skills, which told me the word "ban" did not show up in the UIS doc, I also used the search feature in both Internet Explorer and FireFox. As suspected, both browsers failed to find the word "ban" in the doc!

To ensure I was well into the "beyond reasonable doubt" territory, I reached out for the dictionary (the online one @ Dictionary.com), and looked up the words discourage and ban. I am now convinced, beyond a reasonable doubt, that "discourages", even when prefixed with "strongly", is not the same thing as "bans".

Unfortunately, CNET isn't the only media outlet that falls to the temptation of putting headlines and page views before fair reporting. Overall, CNET continues to do a great job of reporting tech news. (I miss Brian Cooley on CNET Radio— an important part of Silicon Valley culture for many, during the tail end of the dot com boom.)

Testing beta software
Windows 7 beta continues to receive some balanced (read "favorable") coverage, even from the naysayers.

Nevertheless, there's a reason beta software is called beta, and what's OK for an engineer at Intel may not be OK for the average non-technical user at large. Although the Windows 7 beta is remarkably stable, performs well, and is "production-ready" according to many testers and reviewers, it's not a great idea to run a beta on your "production" PCs unless you're prepared to support it yourself.

If you really want to test or play with beta software, get yourself a test box, or use virtualization software to run it in a virtual machine.

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Friday, January 16, 2009


Gartner refutes IBM's Notes marketshare claim

Posted by Bharat Suneja at 11:24 AM
In a recent press release ahead of its annual LotusSphere conference, IBM claimed that Notes is narrowing the lead Microsoft Exchange has. Garnter analyst Tom Austin says:
I don't believe that in either revenue or user seat share, that IBM is closing the gap [with Microsoft]. The gap is getting bigger and bigger.
IBM may be adding Notes users, but its share of the installed base is getting smaller.
Interestingly, the Gartner statistic cited by IBM from "Gartner Dataquest's most recent report from 2008" indicating a 40% share worldwide for Lotus Notes, compared to Microsoft Exchange's 48%, was for 2007 shipments according to Austin.

The statistic is gone from an updated IBM press release.

More in 'Au contraire: Exchange's lead over Notes actually 'getting bigger and bigger,' says Gartner' on Computerworld.com.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The first public sighting of E14, aka Exchange 14, has been reported on the Exchange team blog! KC Lemson and Jim Lucey from the product team tell you more about the exciting developments around E14 in a video.

Head over to the team blog to see Exchange 14 in action!

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Sunday, December 14, 2008


SeaDragon Mobile: A Microsoft app for the iPhone?

Posted by Bharat Suneja at 11:31 AM
A Microsoft App for the iPhone? Yes, that's right. LiveLabs became the first group within Microsoft to launch an application for the iPhone. It's called SeaDragon Mobile. It's available on Apple's AppStore. More on LiveLabs.com.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008


Released: Update Rollup 5 for Exchange 2007 SP1

Posted by Bharat Suneja at 10:00 PM
Update Rollup 5 for Exchange Server 2007 SP1 has been released. Download it here.

As noted in previous posts, Exchange 2007 updates are cumulative and release-specific.

Fixes for the following issues are included (details in KB 953467):

  • 925371 Domino Server does not see attachments in meeting requests from Exchange Server 2007
  • 939037 By default, managed content settings apply to the root folder and all subfolders in an Exchange Server 2007 environment
  • 949722 An Event 800 event message does not log the username of users who ran the Get-MessageTrackingLog command in an Exchange 2007 environment
  • 949893 You cannot create a new mailbox or enable a mailbox in an Exchange Server 2007 environment on February 29, 2008
  • 949895 Exchange Management Shell crashes (stops responding), and Event ID 1000 is logged when you perform a cross-forest migration from Exchange Server 2003 to Exchange Server 2007 S949895
  • 949901 Exchange 2007 users cannot send e-mail messages to a mail-enabled public folder in a mixed Exchange 2003 and Exchange 2007 environment
  • 949968 Unified Messaging does not handle the diversion header correctly in Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1
  • 950272 The formatting of a plain text message is incorrect when you print the plain text message by using Outlook Web Access in an Exchange Server 2007 environment
  • 951267 An exception occurs in Exchange Management Console when you preview AddressList in an Exchange Server 2007 environment
  • 951273 The received date and the received time of IMAP messages are changed to the time of migration after you migrate mailboxes to an Exchange 2007 Service Pack 1-based server
  • 951505 You may receive an error message when you run the Update-SafeList cmdlet in an Exchange 2003 and Exchange 2007 mixed environment
  • 951564 Exchange 2007 S951564 Update Rollup 5 supports the addition of new items to context menus in Outlook Web Access 2007
  • 951710 You receive error messages or warnings when you change an Active Directory schema so that the Company property supports more than 64 characters
  • 952097 Update Rollup 5 for Exchange 2007 Service Pack 1 introduces events 12003 which can be used to clarify ambiguous Event messages
  • 952583 Japanese DBCS characters are corrupt when you reply to a message or forward a message in an Exchange Server 2007 S952583 environment
  • 953619 A public folder conflict message cannot be delivered, and event error 1016 is logged, when the public folder name contains DBCS characters in an Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1 environment
  • 953787 You receive an error message when you try to move Exchange 2000 mailboxes or Exchange 2003 mailboxes from one forest to an Exchange 2007 server that is located in another forest by using the Move-Mailbox command
  • 953840 Event ID 5000 occurs, and the IMAP4 service may crash, on a server that is running Exchange Server 2007 with Service Pack 1 when you use a third-party application to migrate POP3 and IMAP4 users
  • 954036 Hidden folders or files are listed when you view a UNC file server by using OWA in an Exchange 2007 environment
  • 954195 The task originator is not notified of task changes and task progress in an Exchange Server 2007 environment
  • 954197 Exchange 2007 CAS cannot copy the OAB from the OAB share on Windows Server 2008-based Exchange 2007 CCR clusters
  • 954270 Message class changes during conversion when a digitally signed Message Disposition Notification is received by a server that is running Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1
  • 954451 An appointment item cannot be opened by a CDOEX-based application if the item is saved by Exchange Web Service together with the Culture property in Exchange Server 2007
  • 954684 You cannot use an Outlook 2007 client to display or download an attachment when you access a message that includes an inline attachment from Exchange Server 2007
  • 954810 An Exchange 2007 room mailbox stops processing requests after the resource booking assistant receives a delegated meeting request from an Exchange 2003 user
  • 954887 You cannot add a Mail User or a Mail Contact to the Safe Senders list in Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 by using OWA client
  • 955001 Error message when you use the IMAP protocol to send a SEARCH command that has the CHARSET argument on an Exchange 2007 server: "BAD Command Argument Error"
  • 955196 Log files are not copied to the target server in a standby continuous replication environment in Exchange Server 2007
  • 955429 VSS backup application causes the Information Store service to crash repeatedly on an Exchange 2007 Service Pack 1-based server
  • 955460 The start time and the end time of a meeting request are incorrect when a delegate uses Exchange Web Service to send the request in an Exchange 2007 environment
  • 955480 Meeting requests from external senders are displayed as Busy instead of Tentative in an Exchange Server 2007 environment
  • 955599 Event ID 10 messages fill up the Application log on an Exchange 2007 CAS server if an Exchange Server 2003 mailbox owner makes an Exchange Web Service call
  • 955619 A user cannot access the mailbox by using a POP client or an IMAP client through Client Access Server in an Exchange Server 2007 environmen
  • 955741 A message stays in the Outbox, and the message is resent until it is deleted manually on Windows Mobile 6.1-based devices in an Exchange 2007 Service Pack 1 CAS proxying scenario
  • 955946 If a private message is submitted by a SMTP sender, the sender receives an NDR message from the Exchange 2007 server
  • 955989 The SPN registration of a cluster fails, and Error event IDs 1119 and 1034 are logged in an Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1 environment
  • 956199 The last character of a user’s Chinese display name is truncated in the Offline Address Book on an Exchange 2007 server
  • 956319 The W3wp.exe process may crash on an Exchange 2007 CAS server after you use Entourage to send a message that is larger than 48 KB
  • 956573 Event ID 1032 is not logged in the Application log when users send e-mail messages while they are logged in to Outlook Web Access as another user in Exchange Server 2007
  • 956582 Exchange Server 2007 Update Rollup 3 does not update the Outlook Web Access Logon.aspx file after you modify the file
  • 956613 The W3wp.exe process intermittently stops responding and Event ID 1000 is logged in Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1
  • 956709 Some recurring meetings may be missing when you view the meetings using Outlook Web Access in Exchange Server 2007
  • 957002 The Edgetransport.exe process may crash intermittently on a server that is running Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1
  • 957137 The reseed process is unsuccessful on the CCR passive node after you restore one full backup and two or more differential backups to the CCR active node
  • 957813 A Non-Delivery Report is generated when you try to send a high priority message that is larger than 250 KB in an Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1 environment
  • 957978 The OAB generation is unsuccessful and Event IDs 9328 and 9373 are logged in the Application log in a Windows Server 2008-based Exchange 2007 Single-Copy cluster environment
  • 958855 The Edge Transport service crashes repeatedly, and an event error 1000 is logged repeatedly on a server that is running Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1
  • 958856 Event ID: 7012 occurs when you search message tracking logs on an Exchange Server 2007-based server

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Microsoft TechEd 2009: Move back to 1-week format

Posted by Bharat Suneja at 10:00 AM
Microsoft's premiere technical education and networking event, Microsoft TechEd 2008 was held over a 2-week period— one week for the developer audience, and the second week for IT professionals. Based on attendee feedback, TechEd reverts to the familiar 1-week format in 2009.

Los Angeles Convention Center

TechEd 2009 will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, CA, from May 11-15. Yes, after a year in Boston, and 3 years in Orlando, it's back to the west coast.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Exchange CVP Terry Myerson heads to Windows Mobile

Posted by Bharat Suneja at 1:31 PM
As reported on the Exchange team blog, Terry Myerson, CVP for Exchange is heading over to Windows Mobile.

Terry came to Exchange in 2001.

Rajesh Jha, CVP for Microsoft Office Live, will be heading Exchange.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Update Rollup 4: The Right Thing To Do

Posted by Bharat Suneja at 6:30 AM
Now that Exchange 2007 SP1 Update Rollup 4 has shipped, it's time to revisit recent events preceding it.

A few days before yesterday's release, a pre-release version of Update Rollup 4 for Exchange Server 2007 SP1 made its way to Microsoft Update. Customers who had the Automatic Updates feature of Windows Server OS configured to automatically download and install updates got the pre-release version downloaded and applied automatically to those servers. Although it was detected and removed quickly from Microsoft Update, the update has left some customers affected by this issue quite annoyed— and understandably so.

Microsoft's Scott Roberts posted the details on the Exchange team blog in INFO: Update Rollup 4 for Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1, including some of the issues faced by customers, and workarounds. Scott also responded to customers who left comments on the blog post, and frequently updated the post/comments.

Although this has proved to be a major annoyance for some customers, overall the number of customers affected was relatively quite low.

What's of note is the upfront communication about this through the Exchange team blog. Rather than trying to sweep the issue under the carpet, it was actually talked about! Fessing up about such issues, apologizing where apologies are due, and ensuring adequate controls are in place so such things do not happen again is the right thing to do.

It's also a sign of how Microsoft is increasingly being more open about such incidents.

Computerworld's Gregg Keizer wrote about this in Microsoft issues wrong update for Exchange 2007. Surprisingly, other tech media outlets such as News.com and InfoWorld did not pick this up.

Keizer notes:
"For a brief period of time on 9/9, a pre-release version of Update Rollup 4 for Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1 was inadvertently made available to Microsoft Update, the Microsoft Update Catalog and WSUS servers for download," an unidentified Microsoft employee said in a post to the official Exchange blog.
To set the record straight, the linked post is written by Scott Roberts, and clearly attributed to him with a link to his bio.

Auto-updating Servers and Server Apps?

Given the incident, it's easy to respond with "We can't trust Microsoft to automatically push patches that work!" — and you can't be blamed for thinking that way. In fact, you shouldn't trust any vendor to automatically push patches and updates to servers and server apps. In many organizations, patches for desktop/laptop OS and apps are also accorded similar treatment.

Although most software vendors test patches— some more extensively than others, there are a staggering number of variations in configurations, topologies, software and hardware deployed by customers. It is close to impossible to test a patch and account for these variations, and chances of a patch being tested for an environment exactly like yours are arguably quite slim.

It is a Patch Management best practice (and has been for as long as I can remember) to not auto-apply patches to servers and server applications without first testing these in a lab environment. A test and change control process— however rudimentary it may be, always helps in orderly deployment of patches, tracking of such updates, and forces you to think of a back-up plan.

It's a good idea to always apply a patch or update on a test box or two, then roll it out to production servers— starting with low-impact/low-priority servers first to discover problems early on. This ensures that should things go wrong, the initial impact is low. As the patch or update is applied to more servers and you move to more critical/high-impact servers, you've gradually reduced the chances of things going wrong. (Of course, the exact method of rolling out and the order in which servers get a patch applied will vary in each organization and may depend on the type of patch being applied.)

Small businesses, some with no full-time IT staff, many with a single server, may not be able to justify the cost of a test environment or a consultant to test patches and updates.

One option is to use virtualization software such as Microsoft's hypervisor-based Hyper-V (the standalone Hyper-V Server 2008, or the Virtualization/Hyper-V role of Windows Server 2008), the non-hypervisor-based Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2, or Microsoft VirtualPC 2007 for desktops— (all of them except Windows Server 2008 are free), to setup a virtual test environment.

If you are a consultant responsible for supporting many such small businesses, perhaps you can test patches on behalf of customers, and distribute the cost to a number of customers. You can generate additional revenue, and customers can get the assurance that the patches they deploy are tested by someone responsible for maintaining their servers— someone who knows their environment well. It can reduce the possibility of downtime, and is generally cheaper than actual downtime of critical services or applications.

Having patches and updates automatically applied to servers, without any testing, can and will land you in trouble at some point— regardless of the vendor.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Released: Update Rollup 4 for Exchange 2007 SP1

Posted by Bharat Suneja at 1:00 PM
Update Rollup 4 for Exchange Server 2007 SP1 has been released. Download it here.

Fixes for the following issues are included (details in KB 952580):

  • 942649 Description of the commands that support the UseRusServer option that is imported in Update Rollup 4 for Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1
  • 944831 You cannot configure Exchange Server 2007 so that the simple display name appears in outgoing messages
  • 945854 A meeting reminder is still active when you configure Outlook to send no reminders to an Exchange Server 2007 user
  • 945870 TAB symbols may be converted incorrectly to spaces in Exchange Server 2007
  • 948896 Certificates that contain wildcard characters may not work correctly on an Exchange 2007-based server
  • 948897 An attachment incorrectly appears as the body of the e-mail message in an Exchange Server 2007 environment
  • 948923 Users do not receive information in DSN messages in Exchange Server 2007 with Service Pack 1
  • 949512 An embedded message is removed from the attachment list on Exchange Server 2007 if the embedded message subject ends with .com, .exe, or any other blocked extension
  • 949782 An In-Policy request that is forwarded to delegate appears as an Out-Of-Policy request if a user submits an In-Policy meeting request against a room mailbox of Exchange 2007 server
  • 949858 The provisioning process cannot be successful when you use Microsoft Identity Lifecycle Manager (ILM) 2007 to provision user objects for Exchange Server 2007
  • 949926 Error when you use an IMAP4 client or a POP3 client to log on to a delegate mailbox of Exchange Server 2007: "800cccd1"
  • 950076 After you move a mailbox from Exchange Server 2003 to Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1, you cannot edit rules in Outlook Web Access
  • 950081 Error message when users use an SMTP client to send e-mail messages in Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1: "454 4.7.0 Temporary authentication failure"
  • 950138 You are prompted for your credentials three times and you receive an error message when you use the Outlook Anywhere feature to connect to an Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1–based server that is running Windows Server 2008
  • 950198 You can enable AfterConversion snapshot for all messages if pipeline tracing and Content Conversion Tracing are enabled
  • 950235 The IMAP4 or POP3 worker process may stop responding on an Exchange 2007 CAS role that is working with an Exchange 2003 back-end server
  • 950409 The reminder is triggered earlier than expected when an Exchange Server 2007 server receives an iCalendar meeting request message over an SMTP server
  • 950622 Messages are converted to a very small font size in Outlook Web Access and in Outlook 2003 when you use Exchange Server 2007
  • 950976 Event ID 115 may be logged intermittently on a computer that is running Exchange Server 2007 with Service Pack 1
  • 951067 Event ID 7034 may be logged in the Application log in Exchange Server 2007 when an MAPI application tries to access a mailbox in a certain way
  • 951156 The message body of some appointments appears garbled after you use a mobile device that is running Traditional Chinese edition Windows Mobile 6 to synchronize appointments that was created in Outlook Web Access for Exchange Server 2007
  • 951251 A MAPI application does not work correctly if Exchange 2007 is installed on a Windows Server 2008 server
  • 951594 The W3svc log reports the incorrect number of attachments on an Exchange Server 2007 server that has deployed Exchange ActiveSync Service (EAS)
  • 951747 An error occurs when you use the Export-mailbox or Restore-mailbox command to migrate certain mailboxes on Exchange Server 2007: "error code -1056749164"
  • 951864 Some users must enter their credentials when they access rights-protected messages even though you have deployed the Rights Management Services (RMS) prelicensing agent on an Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1-based server
  • 952152 The Autodiscover service for ActiveSync in an Exchange 2007 environment does not work for users in sites that do not have the ExternalURL property set
  • 952250 You encounter a long delay for each mailbox when you run the "Move-Mailbox" or "Set-Mailbox" command on an Exchange Server 2007 computer
  • 952682 Log file drives on the SCR target may eventually fill up and cause replication failure in Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1
  • 952924 Error message when Exchange users try to access public folders that are hosted on Exchange Server 2003 by using Outlook Web Access for Exchange Server 2007: "Outlook Web Access is unable to open public folders"
  • 953312 The "Open Message In Conflict" button is not available in the conflict notification message for Exchange Server 2007 users
  • 954058 You can change the method for transfer encoding after you apply Update Rollup 5 for Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1
  • 954205 Event ID 1113 is logged in the Application log on a Unified Messaging (UM) server when users contact the UM server by using secured connections
  • 954237 The IMAP service crashes intermittently on Exchange 2007, and Event ID 5000 is logged
  • 955208 Event ID 5000 occurs when the Exchange IMAP4 worker process crashes intermittently in Exchange Server 2007
  • 956775 CopyItem and MoveItem Operations in Exchange Web Services can return the Item ID after you install Update Rollup 4 for Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1
  • 957133 Description of improvements in functionality that occur in Exchange Web Services operations after you install Update Rollup 4 for Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1

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