March 2014 saw a lot of preparatory effort for the Microsoft Exchange Conference in Austin, which took place at the end of the month. However, before we got to MEC, we had to cope with a late breaking bug for Exchange 2013 SP1 and some other stuff too… Here’s what happened in my “Exchange Unwashed” blog in March.
Exchange 2013 SP1 suffers late-breaking bug that affects third-party products (March 5): I felt so bad for the Exchange developers when a really late change in a couple of lines of XML code caused problems for third-party products that depend on transport agents to integrate with Exchange. Fortunately the fix is easy and I regard SP1 as easily the best and most stable release of Exchange 2013 to date.
EMS command logging reappears in Exchange 2013 SP1 (March 6): One of the features reintroduced in Exchange 2013 SP1 is command logging, which means that you can see the PowerShell commands executed by EAC as it performs actions. It’s good to see this feature back because similar features in the Exchange 2007 and 2010 EMC allowed administrators to come to grips with the syntax and use of PowerShell. I hope that they do something to remove the gratuitous use of GUIDs to identify objects like databases because it makes the output less useful. I think they might – at least, I heard at MEC that the conversation has started.
Apple releases iOS 7.1 – Exchange administrators applaud (or not) (March 10): This was really good news because nothing happened after the iOS 7.1 release reached iPhone and iPad devices that connect to Exchange with ActiveSync (EAS). The reason why is that it proves that the work done by Apple (to fix their code that calls EAS to communicate with Exchange) and Microsoft (to bulletproof Exchange 2013 and the latest builds of Exchange 2010 – and of course, Exchange Online – so that bad client behavior won’t affect the server) works. That’s something that we should applaud. And I do.
Exchange’s interesting document fingerprinting feature (March 11): Another new feature introduced in Exchange 2013 SP1 and another that I like very much. Basically the idea is that you can provide Exchange with examples of documents that contain sensitive information. Exchange creates a digital fingerprint for the document that can then be included as a data type that transport rules should check. A very good way to extend the DLP feature and one that I think will be very popular with customers.
Contemplating the RSS feed for Exchange Knowledge Base articles (March 13): Microsoft provides an RSS feed for new Exchange 2013 knowledge base articles (other feeds cover other versions). There’s lots of useful information to be mined from the feed, if only it wasn’t quite so repetitive.
Exchange message tracing extended to 90 days in Office 365 – what about the on-premises version? (March 18): Message tracking has always been part of Exchange and it’s a very useful facility because it helps administrators to answer the immortal question posed by users “what happened to my message.” Office 365 now allows you to track messages up to 90 days old and has a nice new GUI to help. It would be so nice to see this utility being provided to on-premises customers, don’t you think?
No warning about patch required for Exchange 2013 SP1 (March 20): As is well known, I hate chastising the Exchange development group. Unless there’s good reason to do so, of course. And so there was on March 20 when I had to point out that customers could be left in the dark about the need to patch Exchange 2013 SP1 for the pesky transport agent problem referred to above. But all is well now because Microsoft responded by updating the knowledge base articles, which is a reasonable solution to the issue.
Technology is so much easier when everyone shares their knowledge (March 25): This is kind of a mixed post. On the one hand, I used it to recognize some of the important contributions made within the Exchange community. On the other, I complained that some of my fellow Exchange MVPs could do a lot better in how they contributed. But I’m a grumpy old man and it’s OK to complain – right?
What to do (and what not to do) at the Microsoft Exchange Conference (March 27): The last post of the month set out my thoughts on how MEC attendees might approach the conference so as to make best use of their time. It will be interesting to see if anyone now comments whether the advice was any use. Of course, I think it was, but I could be wrong.
MEC has been and gone and we’re already well into April. Lots to write about keeps on appearing. It’s great to work with technology.
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