Microsoft provides first look into Exchange 2010 SP1

April 8th, 2010 at 10:34 AM  4 Comments

Microsoft has recently uncovered some of the upcoming features of Exchange 2010 SP1. While SP1 will contain all of the roll-up packs that have been released, using customer feedback they’ve identified problem areas that will be addressed, as well as enhanced some of the features of Exchange.

Most of the enhancements center around archiving/discovery, Outlook Web App (OWA) and mobile management. There will be a beta of SP1 for download in parallel with TechEd North America this June, giving administrators a chance to test it in their development environments prior to full production.

In Exchange Server 2010 last November, Microsoft introduced integrated archiving capabilities aimed at helping preserve old e-mail data. In SP1, administrators can now provision a user’s Personal Archive to a different mailbox database from their primary mailbox. This allows admins to separate storage strategies (or tiered storage) for less frequently accessed e-mail. There will also be an update that will enable support to access Personal Archives with Outlook 2007. Also coming are new tools to allow admins to import historical e-mail data from .PST files, directly into Exchange. There are also new console tools to automate common archiving tasks, as well as policy tags to give more flexibility in designing retention strategy, as well as improvements to mailbox search to conduct discovery of e-mail.

Outlook Web App will get major updates, including new interface enhancements. OWA will do a better job of prefetching message content, allowing the OWA reading experience to flow faster. Functions like delete, mark as read, and other interface options will now run asynchronously so that they feel instantaneous to the user. The interface has also been de-cluttered and updated to help find common tasks faster, and easier to read on small screens like netbooks. Microsoft has also improved support for Safari on the Mac. There will also be new themes for OWA allowing the user to customize their experience.

Improvements to Exchange Active Sync include tether-free IRM support, support for send-as, full support for conversation view including the ability to sync only unique parts of the message. They’ve also added a support page inside of OWA that will help guide the user in setting up their device by providing information such as server names for EAS, IMAP, SMTP, etc.

Microsoft will also be revamping the Exchange management user interface. Users who are not as proficient with PowerShell will be able to do a lot of tasks that were previously only available there, in the Exchange Control Panel. A few of these options include:

  • 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

Exchange 2010 is already a great product, and it looks like Microsoft has a lot of big improvements coming with this service pack.