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SP1 Arriving This Year for Exchange Server 2010

Microsoft today announced updates to come in Service Pack 1 of Exchange Server 2010, including management and search improvements.

Exchange Server 2010 was released in November, and the new service pack will arrive sometime "later this year," according to Microsoft's Wednesday announcement. A beta of SP1 will be released in early June, around the time of Microsoft's Tech-Ed event in New Orleans.

Organizations concerned with compliance and e-discovery legal issues, as well as hunting down errant employee e-mails, likely will relish those improvements in Exchange Server 2010. However, most of the tweaks in SP1 are designed to help IT pros with their management tasks. Microsoft's announcement noted that the SP1 improvements were added as a result of user feedback from previously released roll-ups.

SP1 adds some fine tuning to features that were previously described late last year. For IT pros, SP1 will allow .PST files to be imported directly into Exchange 2010, according to a Microsoft white paper (Word download) attributed to Ian Hameroff, senior technical product manager for Microsoft Exchange.

Microsoft is switching from the older .PST format to an "Exchange archive" approach for storage of personal e-mail files in Exchange 2010. Users of Exchange 2010 will have a both a primary mailbox and a linked personal archive, and both mailboxes will be accessible by IT pros through search queries. In addition, IT pros can set retention policies across both the primary and personal archive mailboxes.

The new archiving and retention policy approaches adopted in Exchange 2010 will offer better control for IT pros, according to Microsoft. For instance, administrators can set a policy specifying that e-mail moved to a personal archive will get deleted after a certain amount of time. That approach can help in cases where organizations have limited storage space for e-mail on servers.

Administrators can use the Exchange Management Console or the PowerShell command line tool to set such policies. Microsoft's announcement described a number of management user-interface improvements in Exchange 2010, particularly to the Exchange Management Console and Exchange Control Panel.

Although the new storage approach in Exchange 2010 sounds useful, a report from Forrester Research cautions that IT pros should assess the architecture changes involved before deciding to upgrade.

Another benefit of SP1 will be the ability to "manage archive mailboxes on separate Exchange databases," according to the white paper.

Search results can be improved by using an optional "de-duplication of search results" feature in Exchange 2010. Hameroff explained in a video linked in Microsoft's announcement that since the same e-mail gets sent to multiple mailboxes, search queries often pull duplicate files. The de-duplication feature ends such redundancies. Microsoft is also touting a "multi-mailbox search" feature that improves searches for legal e-discovery purposes.

Microsoft plans to unveil a "significant facelift" to Outlook Web App with the release of Exchange 2010 SP1. The e-mail client will run faster with a new "pre-fetch" capability for accessing messages. It will better handle large attachments and allow users to view documents protected via information rights management settings.

Information rights management will work with mobile clients without having to first connect the device to the Windows Mobile Device Center for provisioning, according to Microsoft's announcement.

Finally, since many users still use the Outlook 2007 client, Microsoft plans to release an update that will "support access to a user's Personal Archive with Outlook 2007." This update will be released "in the SP1 timeframe," according to Microsoft's announcement.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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