2013 Service Pack 1 is here

The next wave of updates for the 2013 suite of products have arrived with Service Pack 1 being announced today

Exchange 2013 SP1 – http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=41994

Key updates are

  • Support for Windows Server 2012R2,
  • The return of the Edge role (does anyone actually use this?)
  • The introduction of MAPI over HTTP

Further details are here – http://blogs.technet.com/b/exchange/archive/2014/02/25/exchange-server-2013-service-pack-1-available.aspx

Office 2013 SP1 (32Bit) – http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=42005
Office 2013 SP1 (64Bit) – http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=42006

SharePoint 2013 – http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=42008

Further Office details here – http://blogs.technet.com/b/office_sustained_engineering/archive/2014/02/25/announcing-the-release-of-service-pack-1-for-office-2013-and-sharepoint-2013.

Also released today are Update Rollups for Exchange 2010 SP3 and 2007 SP3

http://blogs.technet.com/b/exchange/archive/2014/02/25/released-update-rollup-5-for-exchange-2010-service-pack-3-and-update-rollup-13-for-exchange-2007-service-pack-3.aspx

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The PC is dead?

Something has been bothering me for a while when reading articles in the IT media, there is a statement that keeps recurring when discussing sales of hardware and software and the rise of modern trends such as Bring you Own Device (BYOD) – “The PC is Dead”.

I think these journalists should do a little bit of research to remind themselves exactly what a “PC” is.

Those of you who have been in IT for a long time will remember the arrival of the machine that started this revolution – The IBM PC.
This was a computer that sat on your desk, with a separate monitor and keyboard, running Microsoft DOS from a floppy disk (remember those?) and could do many things that the existing Mainframe, Mini & so called Micro computers of the time couldn’t. This was in 1981 – Windows wouldn’t be launched for another 4 years.

The key feature of the PC was that it introduced a standard that other manufacturers could work to, allowing many “PC Compatible” devices to be created running different hardware and software.
Over the years we have seen hundreds of different PC’s and the form factor has evolved from a large desktop device to “portable” units and then laptops to the point where I’m now using a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet as my primary PC for work.

So, what is a PC?
Is it a Desktop Computer, is it a Workstation? it could be either but not exclusively – by definition it is a “Personal Computer“.

All those journalists need to have a long hard think before using the term because from where I’m looking the Computer has never been so Personal and is a long way from dead.

Comments Off on The PC is dead? Posted in IT, Tech Tagged

Exchange 2013 Improvements

As Exchange 2013 has been available since December 2012 and the 2nd Cumulative Update has just been released it seemed a good time to write an overview of what it offers over previous versions

Hybrid Cloud

The ability to use a cloud service to reduce fixed costs is becoming a key factor with any new system but for many businesses there are still many drivers to maintain some data locally “on premise”. Exchange 2013 makes this Hybrid configuration simpler to maintain than in any previous release, allowing you to host (for example) Sales teams and engineers on the Cloud, Office 365 or Exchange Online offerings whilst still maintaining the HR team and compliance staff on a Local Exchange instance but all using a shared, common domain name and address list. Administration is all performed from the same Web Based “Exchange Admin Console” (EAC) console irrespective of where the users are physically hosted.

Data Loss Prevention

Until now the ability to detect sensitive information being sent out of the business has been left to external systems inspecting e-mail sent from Exchange. Exchange 2013 has introduced the ability to create rules, using templates, that identify & control how sensitive data such as Credit card and National Insurance numbers is treated. If Outlook 2013 is being used then “Policy Tips” are used to display the rules to end users if this type of data is detected and, dependant on the rules, can allow the user to override with a  justification which is then logged for future auditing.

Public Folders

Public Folders have had a complete redesign in Exchange 2013 to take advantage of the Database Availability Group (DAG) replication model. Now based on Mailboxes, Public Folders no longer use a “Multi-Master” replication model to  remove the risk of corruption and increase availability. To the Outlook user the Public Folders still appear just as they always have.

Client Connectivity

All Outlook client connections now use RPC over HTTPS (Outlook Anywhere) irrespective of where they are initiated from, increasing security and maximising performance over slower connections. Outlook 2007, 2010 and 2013 are all supported.

Outlook Web App is supported on all modern browsers and now features an Offline mode where it can be used without any connection to the server. OWA is full optimised for use on ‘phones and Tablets as well as desktops and laptops.

High Availability

Exchange 2013 uses DAGs and mailbox database copies, along with other features such as single item recovery, retention policies, and lagged database copies, to provide high availability, site resilience, and  data protection. The high availability platform, the Exchange Information Store and the Extensible Storage Engine, have all been enhanced to provide greater availability, easier management, and to reduce costs. The Managed Availability feature monitors the system and will take action to maintain user connections if possible as well as alerting Administrators of events.

Migrations

Migration and co-existence with Exchange 2007 and 2010 are fully supported (at specific Service Pack & Update levels) and permit a low risk, phased migration onto the new platform.

 

Exchange 2013 CU1 and Co-Existence

Last night (2nd April) the Exchange team finally released the Exchange 2013 Cumulative Update 1 (CU1) patch that we have been waiting for to permit co-existence with previous versions of Exchange. (http://blogs.technet.com/b/exchange/archive/2013/04/02/released-exchange-server-2013-rtm-cumulative-update-1.aspx)

I’ve had a very quick look at this today in my lab environment to see what Exchange 2013 Co-existence looks like out the box.

The first job was to update my Lab Exchange 2010 server to SP3 (required for co-existence) – straightforward enough though it does, as expected, require downtime of Exchange Services to apply the Service Pack, and SP3 also includes an AD Schema update too, so – full backup of AD first!  FYI SP3 is a slipstreamed install and now supports Server 2012.

Next I created a new Server 2012 VM and joined it to my Lab domain. The only pre-requisites, other than Server 2012 Roles & Features, are the Microsoft Unified Communications Managed API 4.0 Runtime (http://www.microsoft.com/en-GB/download/details.aspx?id=34992) and the Office 2010 64Bit FilterPack SP1 (http://www.microsoft.com/en-GB/download/details.aspx?id=26604).

Now I could run the downloaded CU1 Exchange-x64.exe file to unpack the installation files and run Setup.exe.

The Exchange 2013 CU1 installation now runs through with an option to install all required Roles and Features on the server, very helpful other then requiring a re-boot to complete the install, before then needing to re-running setup.exe to actually start the install.

The install itself is, as expected, very straightforward with the only real option being which role or roles to install (Only CAS or Mailbox roles now in 2013).

Once installed the fun starts – as Exchange 2013 no longer has the Exchange Management Console all administration is via the web based “Exchange Control Panel”. This is great but, at this point my Administrator mailbox still resides on the Exchange 2010 server so when I login to the 2013 URL my session is proxied to 2010, presenting me with the 2010 ECP and no knowledge of the Exchange 2013 world!

A quick check of TechNet and I find this:-

If your mailbox
exists on an Exchange 2010 Mailbox server, the Exchange 2010 ECP will
automatically load in your browser. This is by design. You can access the EAC
by adding the Exchange version to the URL. For example, to access the EAC whose
virtual directory is hosted on the Client Access server CAS01-NA, use the
following URL:
https://CAS01-NA/ecp?ExchClientVer=15.

So now I can connect to the 2013 ECP and see all my 2010 objects I test moving a mailbox from my 2010 server – this all works as expected by creating a “New Migration Batch” which even sends me a mail when complete. I can login to the mailbox using OWA and get the new clean, modern interface to send a test mail.

The mail sends to mailboxes on 2010 and I can reply back to 2013 successfully  – job done!

I’ll play with this lab more over the coming weeks and if I find anything of interest I’ll let you know.

 

Good news & Bad news – Exchange 2013 Coexistence

Good news, Microsoft yesterday (12/02/13) finally announced the release of SP3 for Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2007 SP3 RU10 – these are the pieces we have been waiting for since Exchange 2013 was released back in early December to allow installation into an existing environment.

Bad news,   To do this, install Exchange Server 2013 Cumulative Update 1 (CU1). You cannot install Exchange Server 2013 in your existing Exchange Server 2010 organization by using Exchange Server 2013 RTM installation media.

At this time Exchange 2013 CU1 is slated for release Q1 2013 – looks like we will have to wait a little bit longer!

Photography and Phones

Those of you who know me will be aware that I enjoy Photography.

If you’ve known me for a long time then you will remember that I used to be “that bloke who always has his camera over his shoulder”! This was based on the sound premise that to get a good photo, first you had to have your camera with you.

Back when I started getting serious about photography my camera was a Fuji STX1 35mm Film SLR with a 50mm lens, that was a chore to lug about over my shoulder for the occasional photograph (being careful not to wast a frame of my 24 or 36 exposure film!).

This was replaced by a Pentax P30N with a 28-80mm Zoom lens, giving more control but more weight & bulk that I then added to through the purchase of an additional 70-210mm zoom, some filters and a flashgun, not to mention the tripod!

So I was getting the occasional great photo but was restricted by the amount of kit I was lugging about.

I then acquired an Olympus Mju “compact” camera, a beautifully designed little 35mm camera that could truly fit in your pocket – I could now have my camera with me without looking quite so obvious, but it was more limited in ability!

In subsequent years I “Went Digital”, initially with a compact Kyocera/Yashica (interesting brand alliance!) and then onto my prefered Panasonic FZ and TZ models (Bridge & Compact).

These Panasonic cameras have served me well allowing the power and control of the old film SLR’s but without so much bulk BUT I still need to take them with me to get a photo!

This weekend I was at a family christening when I noticed something that had been creeping up on me for a while – even though I took my trusty Panasonic TZ with me I was actually taking more photos with my phone than with my camera.….

Now, even a year ago, taking photo’s with a phone was just a last resort as the quality of the lens & processing were dubious, but I now have a Nokia Lumia 820 that has an 8 megapixel sensor, a Carl Zeiss Lens with full AutoFocus, Dual LED flash and the capability to take 1080P (Full HD) video – better than both my “proper” cameras.  And just to add to the convenience as soon as I get a WiFi connection my Photo’s are uploaded to Skydrive so I don’t need to spend ages copying SD cards to my PC when I get home!

I will still use a “proper” camera when going out with the intention of taking photographs but the rest of the time, I have my camera in my pocket all the time, oh and I can make calls on it too…..

Exchange 2013 – Coexistence with previous products (Updated)

Exchange 2013 is now available in Preview form for an anticipated launch late this year or early next.

If you are thinking of waiting for the new products before you migrate from Exchange 2003, please be aware of the following information:-

Exchange Server Coexistence

As is standard practice, Microsoft will not support more than two previous versions of a product. This means that there will not be any coexistence capability between Exchange 2013 and Exchange 2003. Therefore to migrate from 2003 to 2013 will require the additional step of migrating onto Exchange 2010 first, and removing all trace of Exchange 2003, before you can migrate onto Exchange 2013.

Active Directory Requirements

Active Directory is required to contain at least one Windows 2008, 2008R2 or 2012 Domain Controller.

Client Restrictions

Outlook clients earlier than Outlook 2007 are not supported. Email clients on Mac operating systems that require DAV, such as Entourage 2008 for Mac RTM and Entourage 2004, are not supported.

Exchange 2013 Preview supports the following minimum versions of Microsoft Office Outlook and Microsoft Entourage for Mac:

  • Outlook      2013 Preview
  • Outlook      2010 SP1 with April 2012 Cumulative Update
  • Outlook      2007 SP3 with July 2012 Cumulative Update
  • Entourage      2008 for Mac, Web Services Edition
  • Outlook      for Mac 2011

Also note that Outlook 2013 Preview will not connect to Exchange 2003.

UPDATE

Since Exchange 2013 has now been through RTM and has now become GA (http://blogs.technet.com/b/exchange/archive/2012/12/03/exchange-server-2013-reaches-general-availability.aspx) you might think you can move into co-existence, this unfortunately is not the case. Microsoft have stated that the required Service Packs (SP3 for 2010, SP3 RU9 for 2007) won’t be made available until Q1 2013. This means that, unless you want to install a “green field” system, you will have to wait until next year before you can look at introducing Exchange 2013 into your environment.

This is very frustrating but as soon as I can get hold of the SP I’ll be testing the co-existence capabilities of 2013.