Given the long, slow migration paths for the vast majority of Windows shops, it remains to be seen whether Microsoft's decision not to support Exchange Server 2007 on future versions of Windows Server 2008, including R2, will cause trouble for any enterprises.
The Microsoft Exchange Team recently said on its blog that Exchange Server 2007 won't be supported on Windows Server 2008 R2. It said that Windows Server 2008 R2 will support Exchange 2007 domain controllers, but Exchange Server 2007 itself won't be supported on Windows Server 2008 R2 systems. So, anyone upgrading to Windows Server 2008 R2 also has to upgrade to Exchange Server 2010.
Microsoft's explanation for not supporting Exchange Server 2007 on the next version of Windows Server is lack of resources. "We are focusing our resources on getting Exchange Server 2010, which will be fully tested and supported on Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2, customer ready to be released later this year," said Michael Atalla, group product manager in the unified communications group at Microsoft, in an emailed statement.
Windows shops will just have to leave Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2003 on their Exchange Server 2007 boxes until they are ready to upgrade both. By the time they are ready to migrate, moving to Exchange Server 2010 will make sense.
But the decision not to support Exchange Server 2007 on future Windows Server 2008 versions does surprise some people, especially since Microsoft plans to release service packs for both products by year's end, said Rob Sanfilippo, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft.
And since Exchange Server 2007 won't be supported on Windows Server 2008 R2, IT administrators upgrading to that OS will have to do a simultaneous upgrade to Exchange Server 2010 -- a less than desirable scenario.
"It is a lot to ask enterprises to upgrade to a new OS and upgrade to Exchange Server 2010 at the same time. Those are two big upgrades, and that is asking a lot. People don't want to do two major upgrades at the same time," Sanfilippo said.
One company likely to upgrade to both at the same time is The San Diego Data Processing Corp., a nonprofit government IT service provider that supports about 13,000 email boxes on a mix of Exchange Server 2003 and 2007 using Windows Server 2003.
"We will most likely plan an upgrade to Exchange 2010 near the end of 2010; this will be done in-line with an upgrade from Exchange 2003…. Until then there are really no plans to upgrade to Windows 2008 R2," said Rick J. Scherer, a systems administrator at the company.
Exchange Server 2007 is currently supported on Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 2, Windows Server 2003 Release 2 with Service Pack 2, and Windows Server 2008.
Exchange Server 2007 SP2 will be out in the third quarter of 2009. Microsoft will release Exchange Server 2010 later this calendar year and will be fully tested and supported on Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 Release 2, due out this fall. Exchange Server 2007 was initially released in November 2006. Exchange Server 2010 was recently released in beta, and a full version with new features such as a new remote procedure call, better high availability and disaster recovery will be available in the second half of 2009.