Exchange in a Windows World

A few facts about installing Exchange 2003 under older Windows versions.

Bill: I was under the impression that Exchange 2000 would run on Windows Server 2003. And I have been told that Exchange 2003 is not shipping yet. Is this so?

Ken: Exchange 2003 was released to manufacturing in the summer, but it has taken a while for Microsoft to get the disks into the channel. You should be able to buy the product from major software dealers right now.

[Read more about Exchange 2003 in a joint MCPmag/ENTmag report that you can download by clicking here.—Editor]

As for trying to figure out which version of Exchange can run on which version of Windows Server and in which version of Active Directory, it's about as confusing as trying to follow a Law and Order whodunit after missing the first scene. Here are some Yes and No guidelines:

Get Help from Bill

Got a Windows or Exchange question or need troubleshooting help? Or maybe you want a better explanation than provided in the manuals? Describe your dilemma in an e-mail to Bill at; the best questions get answered in this column.

When you send your questions, please include your full first and last name, location, certifications (if any) with your message. (If you prefer to remain anonymous, specify this in your message but submit the requested information for verification purposes.)

Yes to Exchange 2003 in a Windows Server 2003 Domain
You can install an Exchange 2003 server in a Windows Server 2003 Active Directory domain. The schema and domain updates performed by Exchange 2003 setup are completely compatible with Windows Server 2003 Active Directory. You do not need any special service packs or hot fixes.

Yes to Exchange 2003 in a Windows 2000 Domain
You can place an Exchange 2003 server in a Windows 2000 Active Directory domain. The schema and domain updates performed by Exchange 2003 Setup are completely compatible with Windows 2000 Active Directory.

Yes to Exchange 2003 in a Mixed Forest
You can install an Exchange 2003 server in any domain in a forest regardless of the Windows Server versions in the other domains. Keep in mind that Configuration and Schema naming context changes replicate to all domain controllers in the forest, so every Windows 2000 domain controller in the forest should have SP3 installed.

Yes to Exchange 2003 on Windows Server 2003
Microsoft recommends this configuration as the most stable and secure messaging platform.

Yes to Exchange 2003 on Windows Server 2003 Standard and Enterprise Editions
The only advantage to using the Enterprise Edition of Windows Server 2003 is to get 8-node clustering. Standard edition does not support shared disk clusters. [Note: The preceding sentence regarding Standard edition has been corrected from what appeared in the newsletter of 11/18/03. We apologize for the confusion this error may have caused.—Editor] You will not get any additional memory headroom in the Enterprise edition because Exchange 2003 can only use 4GB of RAM. Anything more than that is wasted. For this reason, it’s pretty much a waste of money to run Exchange on the Datacenter Edition of Windows Server 2003.

No to Exchange 2000 on Windows 2003 Web Edition
Windows Server 2003 has a Web Edition designed for inexpensive blade servers running web services. You cannot install Exchange 2003 on Windows Server 2003 Web Edition. Setup will refuse to let you do it.

Yes to Exchange 2003 on Windows 2000 SP3
You can install Exchange 2003 on Windows 2000 as long as you have Windows 2000 SP3 or newer installed on Windows. Despite what you may read, don't install Exchange 2003 on Windows 2000 SP2 with a batch of hotfixes. Microsoft has eliminated Windows 2000 SP2 from their test matrix. Do not install Exchange 2003 on Windows 2000 SP2 servers or in a domain that has Windows 2000 SP2 domain controllers because Microsoft may not be able to help you if something unexpected happens.

No to Exchange 5.5 on Windows Server 2003
As the Wizard of Oz would say, "Not no way. Not no how."

No to Exchange 2000 on Windows Server 2003
You'll hear that you can upgrade a Windows 2000 server running Exchange 2000 to Windows Server 2003 and that it "works great." You can believe those stories if you like, but do you really want to put your production Exchange servers into an unsupported configuration?

Hope this helps.

About the Author

Contributing Editor Bill Boswell, MCSE, is the principal of Bill Boswell Consulting, Inc. He's the author of Inside Windows Server 2003 and Learning Exchange Server 2003 both from Addison Wesley. Bill is also Redmond magazine's "Windows Insider" columnist and a speaker at MCP Magazine's TechMentor Conferences.

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Reader Comments:

Sat, Feb 19, 2005 Anonymous Anonymous

My search ended with this page, I had spend lot of time in microsoft site aloso.

Any way Thank You for valueable Ifo

Wed, Nov 19, 2003 Leslie Asher Walnut Creek, California

Here is a copy of a question sent to Bill Boswell in response to his interesting article on Exchange and Windows versions:

Thanks for your article about installing various Exchange versions on various Windows versions. I have forwarded your advice to other staff members.

How about upgrading Exchange 2000 to 2003 on an existing Windows 2000 (>=SP3) server? Would upgrading to Exchange 2003 be just as possible as installing a fresh copy?

A subcontracted instructor at a Microsoft "hands-on" training session for Exchange 2003 said, "No", Microsoft will not support an in-place Exchange upgrade. Can you confirm this?

Tue, Nov 18, 2003 Richard McBride Anonymous

I can confirm that upgrading a Windows 2000 domain controller with Exchange 2000 installed up to Windows 2003 leaves Exchange 2000 non-functional. I have not tried re-installing Exchange 2000 on this new platform, but it sure is non-functional. Since this is only a test domain, there is no worries. We just wanted to try the upgrade to see what happens. Now we know.

Tue, Nov 18, 2003 Mark Ukotic Australia

I have some bad news for Boswell. You can indeed install Exchange 2000 on Windows 2003. People say it can't be done... Microsoft says it can't be done... but I can tell you that it can!

Oh I sooo wouldn’t recommended it. I installed Windows 2003 on a clean system and then installed Exchange 2000. You get some errors along the way but you can ignore them (they just relate to webmail). I then SP’d it up to SP3 and I had a functioning Exchange server. There are also a few little tweaks but nothing major.

I would not run this setup in a large organization. Anything more then a devel or personal setup and you’re setting yourself up for pain. But you do earn respect off your colleagues.

Tue, Nov 18, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

That link is for Exchange 2003 on Windows 2000, which Bill says YES (with SP3). The NO is for Exchange 2000 on Windows 2003.

Tue, Nov 18, 2003 Chris Anonymous

Bill made an error about Exchange clustering. He stated that the Windows 2003 Enterprise support 8-node clusters, and Windows 2003 "Standard" only supports 2-node clusters. The "Standard" version of Windows 2003 Server does not support server clusters at all except for NLB which can't be use for creating Exchange clusters.

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