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Microsoft Releases Its 2019 Servers

The 2019 editions of Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, Project Server and Skype for Business Server are now generally available, Microsoft announced on Monday.

There's a big caveat for organizations expecting to run them using Windows Server 2019, however. While Windows Server 2019 was first released on Oct. 2, Microsoft later held it back due to a file-deletion issue that affected Windows 10 version 1809 users. Those client and server operating systems are still on hold, but Microsoft is planning to release an update, and it plans to update the new application servers accordingly.

"We will provide an update when refreshed media is available and will ensure that all Office 2019 services are fully compatible with the newly refreshed version," explained Jared Spataro, Microsoft's corporate vice president for Office and Windows marketing, in Microsoft's announcement.

In addition, for organizations planning to run Windows Server 2019 in their own datacenters, they won't find the OS on certified hardware until around "mid-January 2019," according to Cosmos Darwin, a senior program manager on Microsoft's Core OS team.

Exchange Server 2019
Exchange Server 2019 is available for download from Microsoft's Volume Licensing Service Center.

One caveat is that Exchange Server 2019 has a dependency on Windows Server 2019, which restricts organizations wanting it right away. This dependency also represents a deal-breaker for organizations sticking with Windows Server 2016. The lack of Windows Server 2016 support is perhaps a surprising switch from Microsoft's usual second-generation product support scenario. 

In addition, Microsoft is touting Exchange Server 2019 for use on the Core install option of Windows Server 2019. The new messaging server works on the Desktop option of Windows Server 2019 also, but Spataro claimed that the Core option represents "the best choice for our code" and that "Core provides the most secure platform for Exchange." 

Organizations also will get the Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.2 protocol by default with Exchange Server 2019, according to an Exchange team post. Microsoft has plans in place to end support for the earlier versions (TLS 1.0 and 1.1) by the end of this month -- not just for the server products, but also across Office 365 services. Upgrading the underlying OS appears to be the typical solution to the unsecure TLS 1.0 and 1.l protocols. For instance, Microsoft has previously indicated that Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012 or later OS versions use TLS 1.2 by default. In addition to those efforts, browser makers earlier announced that they plan to end support for TLS 1.0 and 1.1 in 2020.

As mentioned back in July, Microsoft has pulled the Unified Messaging role from Exchange Server 2019. The lack of that role is a potential issue for organizations that connected "either a 3rd party PBX or Skype for Business Server to Exchange Server," Microsoft indicated. Microsoft's recommendation for those organizations is to "consider migrating to Skype for Business Server 2019 and using Cloud Voicemail, or migrating to Office 365 with Cloud Voicemail."

Exchange Server 2019 features include:

  • The ability to use "up to 48 processor cores and 256GB of RAM."
  • Support for solid-state drives, enabling improved e-mail search.
  • A Dynamic Database Cache feature that provides "more memory to active database copies."
  • International e-mail (EAI/IDN) routing support.

SharePoint Server 2019
SharePoint Server 2019 can be downloaded at this Microsoft Download Center page. It's not possible to upgrade from the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) version. SharePoint Server 2019 is supported on Windows Server 2019 (when available) and Windows Server 2016.

This latest version of Microsoft's intranet server for collaboration and document sharing is mostly bringing down support for so-called "modern features," namely modern Sites, Pages, Lists, Libraries and Communication Sites, which all are already available for users of the SharePoint Online service.

The main modern element missing from SharePoint Server 2019 is support for Hub Sites, which is the top-level organizing page in Microsoft's modernized pages scheme. By modernized, Microsoft is referring to a more simplified user interface, plus responsive design for the mobile SharePoint app so that it adapts well to various screen sizes. In addition, the availability of the new SharePoint Framework open source tooling for developers is part of the modernized theme.

Features in SharePoint Server 2019 include:

  • The ability to upload files "up to 15GB."
  • Increased URL path lengths, "from 260 Unicode code units to 400."
  • Support for the # and % characters "in file and folder names across document libraries."

Microsoft Project Server 2019 was also released and is available through the SharePoint Server 2019 download. Microsoft bundles the two products, although they are licensed separately. Project Server 2019 is the latest project management solution for use on an organization's infrastructure and includes "performance, scalability, reporting, and accessibility and an expanded set of resource engagement APIs," according to an announcement.

Skype for Business Server 2019
Microsoft's latest unified communications server for use in an organization's datacenters can be downloaded from a link at this page. At press time, though, the link led to a generic page, so Skype for Business Server 2019 may not be downloadable just yet. The new server is supported on Windows Server 2019 (when available) and Windows Server 2016.

Skype for Business Server 2019 has the following features, according to an announcement:

  • Cloud Voicemail support.
  • Cloud Call Data Connector support, which can be used for monitoring call quality in hybrid environments.
  • Streamlined support for organizations moving to Microsoft Teams.
  • TLS 1.2 security support. 

There will be coming support for the "Cloud Auto Attendant" and "Meetings First" features in Skype for Business Server 2019, Microsoft's announcement promised. Cloud Auto Attendant "will be available later this year" and it can only be used in "hybrid" environments (on-premises servers plus cloud services) when also using the Azure Active Directory service. Arrival of the Meetings First feature wasn't described, but it allows organizations to use Teams for online meetings.

About the Author

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

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