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Microsoft Details Latest Feature Changes in Exchange Server

Microsoft's e-mail server is getting several feature updates and improvements, particularly on the on-premises side, according to some announcements last week from the Exchange team.

For starters, Windows Server 2016 now supports Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 3 (SP3). Microsoft is also correcting an Exchange Online mailbox sizing issue that could have repercussions for some IT shops.

Lastly, Microsoft added some perks for organizations when they are moving from Exchange Server to Exchange Online.

Excluding Dumpsters During Migrations
On the Exchange Online migration front, Microsoft announced the ability to hold back Recoverable Items Folders (formerly known as "dumpsters") during Exchange Online moves. Earlier, Microsoft had made it easier to transfer some policies from Exchange Server 2010, Exchange Server 2013 or Exchange Server 2016 to Exchange Online.

Previously, Recoverable Items Folders would get automatically included in Exchange Online migrations. However, IT pros can use a new optional parameter in their migration batch script, called -ExcludeDumpsters, that won't move the Recoverable Items Folders.

Of course, the items in those folders can't be recovered if the -ExcludeDumpsters parameter gets used, but presumably the files in the folder weren't needed in the first place. The other catch is that the new -ExcludeDumpsters parameter only works when migrating to Exchange Online from Exchange Server 2013 or Exchange Server 2016 as the source.

Exchange Server 2010 SP3 on Windows Server 2016
In the perhaps better-late-than-never category, Microsoft now supports Exchange Server 2010 SP3 on Windows Server 2016, according to an announcement last Wednesday. Exchange Server 2010 SP3 will fall out of product support on Jan. 14, 2020, giving IT pros a year and a half to run it on Windows Server 2016 before the mail server becomes an unsupported product.

The issue with the lagging Windows Server 2016 support apparently had to do with no domain controller and forest-level support for Exchange Server 2010 SP3. Those elements got supported with the release earlier this month of Update Rollup 22 for Exchange Server 2010 SP3.

Quarterly Exchange Server Updates
This month was a big one for organizations running Exchange Server in their datacenters as Microsoft released its quarterly updates. They included Exchange Server 2010 SP3 Update Rollup 22, Exchange Server 2013 Cumulative Update 21 and Exchange Server 2016 Cumulative Update 10, according to another announcement.

Microsoft noted in its announcement that Cumulative Update 21 is the "last planned quarterly update for Exchange Server 2013." The product entered the "extended support" phase on April 10, 2018, which typically means it just gets security updates going forward. However, there's also a restriction on getting future "critical" updates. Here's how Microsoft explained it back in April:

After September 19th 2018, only Cumulative Update 21 or its successors will receive critical updates. During the Extended Support phase, only the latest cumulative update is eligible to receive critical updates once the standard 3 month transition period of the prior cumulative update has lapsed.

This strange explanation dates back to Microsoft's redefinition of Exchange Server servicing about five years ago in which a "CU will be supported for a period of three (3) months after the release date of the next CU." However, in the case of Exchange Server 2013 Cumulative Update 21, that's Microsoft's last planned CU release.

In a nutshell, what this means is that organizations running Exchange Server 2013 need to be on Cumulative Update 21 (or any CU that might get subsequently released) to get future critical updates from Microsoft.

Exchange Online Mailbox Sizing
Many times, we find that technical documentation isn't adequate to describe a technology. However, in the case of Exchange Online mailboxes, that adage got turned on its head.

It turns out that Exchange Online documentation describing shared and resource Exchange Online mailboxes as having a default maximum size of 50GB was correct, even though many of Microsoft's customers were able to create them with a default size of 100GB. The Exchange team plans to rectify that technical lapse starting at "the end of July," according to an announcement last Thursday.

After July, organizations with shared Exchange Online mailboxes over the 50GB default size may have to assign an Exchange Online Plan 2 license to it in order to support the larger default size. This license assignment will bump up the default mailbox size to 100GB.

Microsoft's announcement described the various scenarios that could result when it makes this technical change on the back end. In some cases, organizations could start seeing "mailbox full" errors.

About the Author

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

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