MVPs around the World (2020)

With great honor and joy I can announce that I have been awarded the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award for the seventh consecutive year, again in the category Office Apps & Services. Congratulations to other new and re-awarded MVPs as well, and kudos to the MVP program in undertaking the monstrous task of reviewing and evaluating thousands of contributions every award cycle.

With another award cycle also comes the time to have a look at the MVP statistics. Below numbers are taken from the public MVP site. July 3rd is chosen as the first days the site gets updated and new awardees need to turn in their NDA before they show up on the site.

Because people can get awarded each month, the comparison to July 3rd of every year indicates only yearly trend. Therefor we’ll also compare the numbers to those of June to see the impact on long-term MVP population, as awardees from January are only up for consideration in July 2021 for example.

From the numbers, it is clear that this cycle the number of MVPs went a bit down from 2.998 in June 2020 to 2.850 now (-5%), but it is higher than the 2.634 (+8%) of July 2019.

The following table contains the changes per award category from July 2019 and June 2020 to July 2020. I will leave the interpretation up to you.

ExpertiseJuly 2019June 2020ChangeJuly 2020Change
Cloud and Datacenter Management2322424%209-10%
Microsoft Azure40945511%46313%
Office Apps & Services4915308%5124%
Business Applications16623441%24045%
Data Platform33237513%3588%
Developer Technologies64474215%6978%
Enterprise Mobility10611912%1137%
AI8410930%12245%
Office Development476028%6436%
Windows Development1191233%110-8%
Windows and Devices for IT5755-4%43-25%
Total Awards2687304413%29319%
Total MVPs2634299814%28498%

Note: The total number of MVPs doesn’t equal the total number of awardees, as MVPs can be awarded in more than one category; there are now 82 people awarded in multiple categories’; an increase of 57% compared to June 2019.

When zooming in on the Office Apps & Services category, the awards per country are shown below, including change compared to last year. Be advised that 26 OAS MVPs are anonymous or have profiles without information on residency.

image
CountryNumberCountryNumberCountryNumber
Australia24 (20%)India13 (0%)Saudi Arabia1 (0%)
Austria3 (0%)Ireland1 (0%)Serbia1 (0%)
Belgium5 (-38%)Israel1 (0%)Singapore3 (0%)
Bosnia and Herzegovina1 (0%)Italy5 (-17%)Slovakia1 (0%)
Brazil8 (-20%)Japan20 (-10%)Slovenia2 (0%)
Bulgaria2 (0%)Korea12 (0%)South Africa4 (-20%)
Cambodia1 (100%)Luxembourg1 (100%)Spain12 (50%)
Canada33 (6%)Macedonia, FYRO2 (0%)Sri Lanka1 (0%)
China17 (6%)Malaysia1 (0%)Sweden9 (80%)
Colombia5 (25%)Mexico5 (0%)Switzerland3 (50%)
Croatia5 (25%)Myanmar1 (100%)Taiwan4 (0%)
Czech Republic2 (0%)Nepal1 (0%)Thailand2 (-34%)
Denmark6 (0%)New Zealand6 (0%)The Netherlands22 (4%)
Egypt1 (0%)Nigeria2 (100%)Turkey2 (0%)
El Salvador1 (0%)Norway6 (0%)Ukraine2 (0%)
Finland4 (33%)Pakistan1 (-50%)United Arab Emirates1 (-50%)
France18 (-10%)Poland6 (50%)United Kingdom33 (17%)
Germany24 (-4%)Portugal3 (50%)United States123 (2%)
Hungary2 (0%)Russia9 (12%)Uruguay1 (0%)

And last, the number of Office Apps & Services and total number of MVP’s over the last years, before and after the award cycle.

June
2017
July
2017
June
2018
July
2018
March
2019
July
2019
June
2020
July
2020
OSS532449490383622491530512
-16%9%-22%62%-21%8%-3%
Total41343490381530303205263429982849
-16%9%-21%6%-18%14%-5%

On a final note, the above data is static; some MVPs have build great dashboards which allow you to work with the data more interactively (if they have updated their data set, that is). Some noteworthy mentions:

If you have questions or comments, please leave them in the comments below.

Configuring Exchange Online with IMAP & OAuth2

Not too long ago, the Exchange product group enabled Modern Authentication (or OAuth2) support for IMAP and SMTP in Exchange Online, and shortly after for POP3 as well. This support was much needed with the imminent deactivation of Basic Authentication. With Modern Authentication available, vendors, developers as well as organizations running custom scripts are given time to adopt Modern Authentication where applicable.

By delaying the original end date of Basic Authentication from October 13, 2020 to Q3’ish 2021 due to the Corona situation, the adoption period is increased significantly. That does not mean however developers and organizations can sit back and relax: Act sooner rather than later, the end of Basic Authentication is nigh.

The benefits of Modern Authentication are of course that it is a more secure model (e.g. resistant to password spray attacks), as well that it can leverage Microsoft 365 functionality like Conditional Access to limit protocols to certain locations.

That said, in this article I will show you how to approve usage of a popular 3rd party e-mail application Thunderbird, using IMAP protocol in conjunction with the Modern Authentication scheme. The procedures below have been run against Thunderbird 78.0b4 on Windows as well as Ubuntu.

Third Party Applications
Before we move on to Thunderbird, we first make sure the organization settings allow for third party applications to access your mailbox Exchange Online. This process has been blogged about for common popular applications, such as the native iOS Mail app or the Gmail app on Android. So, how to go ahead if your organization restricts access to third party applications, and they only want to allow specific applications, which is of course good practice.

The easiest way to add Thunderbird to the allowed applications and grant consent to the organization, is by constructing an admin consent URL. To construct the consent URL, take the following URL:

https://login.microsoftonline.com/<TenantID>/oauth2/authorize?client_id=<AppID>&response_type=code&prompt=admin_consent

and,

  1. Replace <TenantID> with your Tenant ID. This piece of information can be found under the Azure Active Directory blade in the Azure portal.
  2. Replace <AppID> with the Application ID (sometimes also referred to as Client ID) of the application you want to provide consent for. As we can see in the table below, the ID of Thunderbird is 08162f7c-0fd2-4200-a84a-f25a4db0b584.
ApplicationID
Thunderbird08162f7c-0fd2-4200-a84a-f25a4db0b584
Gmail app2cee05de-2b8f-45a2-8289-2a06ca32c4c8
iOS Accounts (Apple Mail app)f8d98a96-0999-43f5-8af3-69971c7bb423

Open your browser, and visit this URL as an administrator. You will be greeted with a consent form, in which you will be asked to accept for your organization. Because the redirect_uri is empty here, you will likely be send to a non-existing location after giving consent, but that’s OK.

When you look at the Enterprise Applications blade in the Azure Portal, you will notice the Thunderbird app has been added. Here you can further customize it, like any enterprise application supporting Modern Authentication, e.g.

  • Restrict access to specific users or groups.
  • Use Conditional Access to restrict access to certain locations.
clip_image001

Another thing to note is that permissions for Thunderbird app will have been translated to the following Graph permissions:

APIPermissionType
Microsoft GraphRead and write access to mailboxes via IMAP.Delegated
Microsoft GraphRead and write access to mailboxes via POP.Delegated
Microsoft GraphRead and write access to mailboxes via SMTP AUTH.Delegated
Microsoft GraphSign in and read user profile.Delegated

We should now be ready on the back-end.

Thunderbird
Now as an end user, start Thunderbird. Do not start configuring the account yet, as we first need to modify a Thunderbird setting to allow for successful Modern Authentication through a browser popup. Click the ‘hamburger’ menu to open the Options window. Scroll all the way down, and open the Config Editor. Click ‘I Accept the risk’. In the settings overview, set General.UserAgent.CompatMode.Firefox setting to True:

Preference NameStatusTypeValue
general.useragent.compatMode.firefoxmodifiedbooleanTrue

Close the Config Editor and Preferences tab. We can now set up our account in Thunderbird.

Select Add Mail Account, and enter your name and e-mail address. You can leave the password empty, as we will be using an Oauth token which we will retrieve later on. Press Continue to have Thunderbird figure out where your mailbox is hosted. When it properly discovers the mailbox location, it will set the configuration as follows:

image

If Thunderbird can’t figure out your settings (for some reason the Windows build could, but the Ubuntu build couldn’t), configure them as indicated above. We can’t select OAuth2 for authentication here, so leave Authentication as is; we will correct this right after we click Done.

Note: Configure manually would be the place you expect to set authentication to OAuth2 straight away, but with the build we used, the OAuth2 option is not available from the manual account setup dialog. Therefore, we need to set up the account and correct settings afterwards.

  1. In the Server Settings window related to your account, select OAuth2 authentication:
    clip_image001[14]
  2. In the Outgoing Server (SMTP) settings, select Offic365 (Microsoft) – smtp.office365.com, click Edit and set authentication for outbound SMTP to OAuth2 as well.
    clip_image002
    Note: The Thunderbird build running on Ubuntu doesn’t provide the OAuth2 authentication option for SMTP.

When finished, click ‘Get Messages’. The familiar Microsoft 365 authentication browser dialog should show up. After signing in, the next question will be to grant consent to the Thunderbird application to it can access your mailbox data and send e-mail:

clip_image001[18]

Note that this dialog can not be suppressed, as currently only interactive applications are supported. If you are working on an app or script which needs unattended access, please use Graph API.

After the user provides consent, Thunderbird is ready and will start fetching your default folders and mail items. If you want to view additional folders, you need to subscribe to them by right-clicking the account and picking Subscribe. Only folders with mail-items are supported, despite you can select every folder in your mailbox including Calendar or Contacts.

Logging
If you have people in your organization requiring some form of proof that Modern Authentication is being used, you can use the Enterprise Applications / Sign-Ins view from the Azure Active Directory portal.

Alternatively, you can use Thunderbird’s built-in logging capabilities. To accomplish the latter, set the following environment variables before starting Thunderbird:

MOZ_LOG=IMAP:5,timestamp
MOZ_LOG_FILE=%APPDATA%\ThunderBird-imap.log

In the generated ThunderBird-imap.log file like shown below, you should be able to spot Modern Authentication (XOAuth2) being selected:

2020-06-30 13:10:16.726000 UTC - [(null) 15696: IMAP]: I/IMAP 259C3800:outlook.office365.com:NA:CreateNewLineFromSocket: * CAPABILITY IMAP4 IMAP4rev1 AUTH=PLAIN AUTH=XOAUTH2 SASL-IR UIDPLUS MOVE ID UNSELECT CHILDREN IDLE NAMESPACE LITERAL+2020-06-30 13:10:16.726000 UTC - [(null) 15696: IMAP]: D/IMAP ReadNextLine [stream=1991DE80 nb=28 needmore=0]
2020-06-30 13:10:16.726000 UTC - [(null) 15696: IMAP]: I/IMAP 259C3800:outlook.office365.com:NA:CreateNewLineFromSocket: 1 OK CAPABILITY completed.
2020-06-30 13:10:16.726000 UTC - [(null) 15696: IMAP]: D/IMAP Try to log in
2020-06-30 13:10:16.726000 UTC - [(null) 15696: IMAP]: D/IMAP IMAP auth: server caps 0x840087635, pref 0x800000000, failed 0x0, avail caps 0x800000000
2020-06-30 13:10:16.726000 UTC - [(null) 15696: IMAP]: D/IMAP (GSSAPI = 0x1000000, CRAM = 0x20000, NTLM = 0x100000, MSN = 0x200000, PLAIN = 0x1000, LOGIN = 0x2, old-style IMAP login = 0x4, auth external IMAP login = 0x20000000, OAUTH2 = 0x800000000)
2020-06-30 13:10:16.726000 UTC - [(null) 15696: IMAP]: D/IMAP Trying auth method 0x800000000
2020-06-30 13:10:16.726000 UTC - [(null) 15696: IMAP]: D/IMAP IMAP: trying auth method 0x800000000
2020-06-30 13:10:16.726000 UTC - [(null) 15696: IMAP]: D/IMAP XOAUTH2 auth
2020-06-30 13:10:16.775000 UTC - [(null) 15696: IMAP]: D/IMAP ReadNextLine [stream=280D87C0 nb=180 needmore=0] 2020-06-30 13:10:16.775000 UTC - [(null) 15696: IMAP]: I/IMAP 2089A000:outlook.office365.com:NA:CreateNewLineFromSocket: * OK The Microsoft Exchange IMAP4 service is ready. [QQBNADQAUABSADAAMQAwADEAQwBBADAAMAA3ADYALgBlAHUAcgBwAHIAZAAwADEALgBwAHIAbwBkAC4AZQB4AGMAaABhAG4AZwBlAGwAYQBiAHMALgBjAG8AbQA=]

Exchange Updates – June 2020

The Exchange Team released the quarterly Cumulative Updates for Exchange Server 2019 as well as Exchange 2016. Like the previous two Cumulative Updates, these require .NET Framework 4.8.

Apart from fixes as well as security updates included from the previous CU, these update contain the following changes for both builds:

  • Added additional file types to default OWA Mailbox Policy for Blocked File Extensions. More information in KB4559446.
  • Added support to Restore-RecoverableItems for easier usage. More details in KB4547707.

Links to the updates as well as a description of changes and fixes are described below.

VersionBuildKBDownloadUMLPSchema
Exchange 2019 CU615.2.659.4KB4556415VLSC N
Exchange 2016 CU1715.1.2044.4KB4556414DownloadUMLPN

Exchange 2019 CU6 fixes:

  • 4559441 Foreign language characters set in RejectMessageReasonText of a transport rule aren’t shown correctly in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4547707 Enable piping for Restore-RecoverableItems in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4549689 HMA EvoSTS certificate rollover causes authentication prompts due to stalled key on worker process spawn (warmup phase) in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4559446 Changes to Outlook on the web blocked file extensions and MIME types in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4559440 Export to a PST for an eDiscovery search fails Exchange Server 2019
  • 4559439 EAS creates failure report if a message with unknown recipients is in Drafts in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4559442 2080 Events caused by empty values in HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\MSExchange ADAccess\Instance0 in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4559438 Edge Transport server hangs in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4559443 Managed Folder Assistant fails with Event ID 9004 NotInBagPropertyErrorException in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4559437 PR_RECIPIENT_ENTRYID is computed if no email address or type in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4559444 Conversion from HTML to RTF removes non-breaking space in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4559436 Attachments with properties (like Azure Information Protection labels) not always matching in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4559435 Introduce an OrganizationConfig flag to enable or disable recipient read session in Exchange Server 2019

Exchange 2016 CU17 fixes:

  • 4559444 Conversion from HTML to RTF removes non-breaking space in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4559435 Introduce an OrganizationConfig flag to enable or disable recipient read session in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4547707 Enable piping for Restore-RecoverableItems in Exchange Server 2019 and 2016
  • 4559436 Attachments with properties (like Azure Information Protection labels) don’t always match in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4559437 PR_RECIPIENT_ENTRYID is computed if no email address or type in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4559438 Edge Transport server hangs in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4559439 EAS creates failure report if a message with unknown recipients is in Drafts in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4559440 Export to a PST for an eDiscovery search fails in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4559441 Foreign language characters set in RejectMessageReasonText of a transport rule aren’t shown correctly in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4559442 2080 Events caused by empty values in HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\MSExchange ADAccess\Instance0 in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4549689 HMA EvoSTS certificate rollover causes authentication prompts due to stalled key on worker process spawn (warmup phase) in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4559443 Managed Folder Assistant fails with Event ID 9004 NotInBagPropertyErrorException in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4559446 Changes to Outlook on the web blocked file extensions and MIME types in Exchange Server 2016

Notes:

  • These Cumulative Updates do not contain schema changes compared to their previous Cumulative Update.
  • When upgrading from an n-2 or earlier version of Exchange, or an early version of the .NET Framework, consult Upgrade Paths for CU’s & .NET.
  • Don’t forget to put the Exchange server in maintenance mode prior to updating. Regardless, setup will put the server in server-wide offline mode post-analysis, before making actual changes.
  • When using Exchange hybrid deployments or Exchange Online Archiving (EOA), you are required to delay installing at most one version (n-1).
  • If you want to speed up the update process for systems without internet access, you can follow the procedure described here to disable publisher’s certificate revocation checking.
  • Cumulative Updates can be installed directly; no need to install RTM prior to installing Cumulative Updates.
  • Once installed, you can’t uninstall a Cumulative Update nor any of the installed Exchange server roles.
  • The order of installation shouldn’t matter with the “every server is an island” concept, yet recommended is to upgrade internet-facing, non-internet-facing servers first, followed by Edge Transports.

Caution:

As for any update, I recommend to thoroughly test updates in a test environment prior to implementing them in production. When you lack such facilities, hold out a few days and monitor the comments on the original publication or forums for any issues.

MS Teams & pre-Exchange 2016CU3

Updated May 9th: Added Share to Teams. to table

With the emergency to facilitate working from home due to the Corona pandemic, many organizations were faced with a dilemma. When running Exchange 2013 or some even Exchange 2010 on-premises, and a desire to start using Microsoft Teams, organizations were confronted with the following requirements for integrating Microsoft Teams with Exchange on-premises (source):

  • Users with mailboxes hosted on-premises must be synchronized to Azure Active Directory.
  • Running Exchange 2016 Cumulative Update 3 or later on-premises.
  • OAuth needs to be configured (via Hybrid Configuration Wizard, or manual as MVP fellow Jaap blogged about here).
  • Recently, an additional requirement was added to explain that for delegates to schedule calendar meetings on behalf of another person, some additional steps are required (steps 2-3 mentioned here).

Now as you might know, Exchange 2010 does not support OAuth authentication. But, by putting Exchange 2016 in front of Exchange 2010, Exchange 2016 can be used for dealing with OAuth authentication, as well as dealing with client traffic as it can down-level proxy to Exchange 2010 for mailboxes hosted on those servers. Looking at these requirements, organizations might conclude that putting Exchange 2016 CU3 in front of their Exchange environment, and configuring OAuth would suffice the requirement to integrate Teams with their Exchange on-premises environment.

image

Alas, the additional requirement for full Teams integration is that the mailbox server hosting the mailbox should support REST API. Teams leverages Graph REST API calls to interact with mailboxes. In an Hybrid Exchange setup, on-premises mailboxes are identified, and related REST API calls will be directed at the on-premises REST endpoint, landing on your Exchange environment. The requirement for REST API support is something which is not explicitly stated in the Teams integration article, despite my earlier pull request.

It is however stated implicitly in an article on REST support in Hybrid Exchange or the original publication on REST API support in Exchange 2016 CU3 by the Exchange PG, two articles which you might easily have missed or forgotten about. Either way, it states that “All on-premises mailboxes that will use the REST APIs must be located on databases located on Exchange 2016 CU3 servers”.

Thus, with REST API support only being available per Exchange 2016 CU3, Teams will not fully integrate with mailboxes hosted on earlier versions of Exchange. Exchange 2016 can be used to offload OAuth when your mailbox is still on Exchange 2010 (which works fine for Exchange Web Services for Free/Busy, for example), but Exchange 2010 does not support REST API, and thus will never understand those ‘weird’ (proxied) requests landing on /api virtual directory, typical of REST API calls. Consequently, you will see AutodiscoverV2 and REST API calls greeted with a 404:

2020-04-29 20:22:52 fd86:b628:2775:1:9502:cdcc:d4b1:5950 GET /autodiscover/autodiscover.json Email=chefke%40contoso.com&Protocol=REST&RedirectCount=1 443 CONTOSO\EX2$ fd86:b628:2775:1:9f8:2d9:c8a1:3c4a SkypeSpaces/1.0a$*+ 404 0 2 31

Typically, first thing users usually will notice missing is the Calendar integration:

image

Knowing this, the assumption could be that this combination doesn’t work at all, but as often the truth lies somewhere in the middle. You can use Teams when mailboxes are still hosted on pre-Exchange 2016 CU3, if you can live with the limitations. Below I have included a short overview of these, or other noteworthy items. The information is complementary to the How Exchange and Teams interact article. I hope it may help in discussions on what works and what doesn’t.

Disclaimer: Validated with mailbox hosted on Exchange 2010 with Exchange 2016 in front, OAuth and SkypeOnline AppId configured, and using Outlook 2016 C2R. Information may be subject to change. The list may not be conclusive; if you have any additional observations, please leave them in the comments.

ActionsWorksComment
Create & View Meetings in TeamsNoNo Calendar integration as this requires Outlook Calendar REST API. Visual clue is absence of the Calendar button.
Modify User Photo in Teams (client)NoDoesn’t work when mailbox is hosted in Exchange on-premises.
Call HistoryYesHistory doesn’t propagate to mailboxes hosted in Exchange on-premises in ‘Teams Calls’ folder. Does
Access Outlook ContactsNoWorks only with Exchange Online mailboxes.
VoicemailYesMay use & receive voice-mail, but can’t play from Teams.
Free/Busy statusYesUses EWS.
Create & View/Update Teams Meetings from OutlookYesUsing default Teams Meeting add-in.
Create Teams Meetings from Outlook as DelegateNoTeams Scheduler uses AutodiscoverV2 to discover delegate EWS endpoint, and fails. Outlook will display “Sorry, but we can’t connect to the server right now. Please try again later.”
View/Update Teams Meetings from Outlook as DelegateYesEWS is used to fetch and update the calendar item.
MailTips in TeamsNoMailTips like Out of Office are not shown in Teams. MailTips work for Exchange 2016 CU3+.
Create & View Channel Meetings in TeamsNoDoesn’t work when mailbox is hosted in Exchange on-premises.
Share to TeamsNoDoesn’t work when mailbox is hosted in Exchange on-premises.

Of course, the better experience is to be had when your mailbox is hosted on Exchange 2016 CU3 or later (including Exchange 2019), or best when you simply host them in Exchange Online. However, given the circumstances and pressure from the organization to use Teams, that route might not be an option for everyone. Organizations may look at substantial investments in time and resources. In those cases, it might be good to know of alternative less preferable scenarios, and more important, any possible limitations you might encounter when taking a shortcut.

Exchange Updates – March 2020

The Exchange Team released the quarterly Cumulative Updates for Exchange Server 2019 as well as Exchange 2016. Like the previous Cumulative Updates, these require .NET Framework 4.8. Apart from fixes as well as security updates included from the previous CU, these update contain the following changes for Exchange 2019 CU5:

  • Updated Exchange calculator (v10.4).
  • Fixes an issue with Manage-MetaCacheDatabase.ps1 to configure MCDB.
  • Fixes partial word searches when using Outlook in online mode.

Links to the updates as well as a description of changes and fixes are described below.

VersionBuildKBDownloadUMLPSchema
Exchange 2019 CU515.2.595.3KB4537677VLSC N
Exchange 2016 CU1615.1.1979.3KB4537678DownloadUMLPN

Exchange 2019 CU5 fixes:

  • 4552472 Exchange Server 2019 Sizing Calculator version 10.4 is available
  • 4536552 Export-ModernPublicFolderStatistics.ps1 is not working in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4538303 Exchange 2019 Setup Prerequisite Check fails for .NET 4.8 Framework in CU4 on Windows builds 1909 and 1903
  • 4547705 Authentication loop between msft.sts.microsoft.com/adfs and OWA in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4547706 Birthday isn’t correctly synced to iOS native mail app in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4547708 Elevation of privileges possible when Active Directory permissions role is granted in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4547709 InternetWebProxyBypassList is ignored by Mailbox Replication service in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4547710 New-MailboxSearch with In-Place Hold enabled replaces all values in msExchUserHoldPolicies if adding a value in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4547711 Public folder permissions aren’t applied from Outlook in Exchange Server 2019 hybrid environment
  • 4547712 Outlook on the web (OWA) exposes junk operations even if disabled via OwaMailboxPolicy in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4547713 IsOnlineMeeting is always false for Teams-only meetings in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4547714 Can’t add remote shared mailbox using ECP into distribution group in Exchange Server 2019 hybrid environment
  • 4547715 New created search folder retention policy is changed in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4547719 MCDB status is “Offline” and SSDs are not formatted in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4547720 Partial word searches not working for mailboxes in Outlook online mode in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4547721 Exchange Sizing Calculator still supports mail.que database over 2 TB in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4547722 Can’t go from Office 365 to Enterprise in Exchange Server 2019 Exchange admin center (EAC) if Chrome SameSite Cookie is enabled
  • 4547723 Can’t sign in to Office 365 if configuring hybrid with Chrome SameSite Cookie enabled in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4536987 Description of the security update for Microsoft Exchange Server 2019: February 11, 2020

Exchange 2016 CU16 fixes:

  • 4547705 Authentication loop between msft.sts.microsoft.com/adfs and OWA in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4547706 Birthday isn’t correctly synced to iOS native mail app in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4547708 Elevation of privileges possible when Active Directory permissions role is granted in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4547709 InternetWebProxyBypassList is ignored by Mailbox Replication service in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4547710 New-MailboxSearch with In-Place Hold enabled replaces all values in msExchUserHoldPolicies if adding a value in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4547711 Public folder permissions aren’t applied from Outlook in Exchange Server 2016 hybrid environment
  • 4547712 Outlook on the web (OWA) exposes junk operations even if disabled via OwaMailboxPolicy in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4547713 IsOnlineMeeting is always false for Teams-only meetings in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4547714 Can’t add remote shared mailbox by using ECP into distribution group in Exchange Server 2016 hybrid environment
  • 4547715 New created search folder retention policy is changed in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4547722 Can’t go from Office 365 to Enterprise in Exchange Server 2016 Exchange admin center (EAC) if Chrome SameSite Cookie is enabled
  • 4547723 Can’t sign in to Office 365 if configuring hybrid with Chrome SameSite Cookie enabled in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4547716 Event ID 1325 and Test-ExchangeSearch crashes application pool with NullReferenceException in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4536987 Description of the security update for Microsoft Exchange Server 2016: February 11, 2020

Notes:

  • These Cumulative Updates do not contain schema changes compared to their previous Cumulative Update.
  • When upgrading from an n-2 or earlier version of Exchange, or an early version of the .NET Framework, consult Upgrade Paths for CU’s & .NET.
  • Don’t forget to put the Exchange server in maintenance mode prior to updating. Regardless, setup will put the server in server-wide offline mode post-analysis, before making actual changes.
  • When using Exchange hybrid deployments or Exchange Online Archiving (EOA), you are required to delay installing at most one version (n-1).
  • If you want to speed up the update process for systems without internet access, you can follow the procedure described here to disable publisher’s certificate revocation checking.
  • Cumulative Updates can be installed directly; no need to install RTM prior to installing Cumulative Updates.
  • Once installed, you can’t uninstall a Cumulative Update nor any of the installed Exchange server roles.
  • The order of installation shouldn’t matter with the “every server is an island” concept, yet recommended is to upgrade internet-facing, non-internet-facing servers first, followed by Edge Transports.

Caution:

As for any update, I recommend to thoroughly test updates in a test environment prior to implementing them in production. When you lack such facilities, hold out a few days and monitor the comments on the original publication or forums for any issues.

Security Updates Exchange 2010-2019 (Feb2020)

A quick blog on recently published security updates for Exchange Server 2013 up to Exchange Server 2019 and Exchange Server 2010 as well. These fixes address the following vulnerabilities:

  • CVE-2020-0692: Microsoft Exchange Server Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability

An elevation of privilege vulnerability exists in Microsoft Exchange Server. An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could gain the same rights as any other user of the Exchange server. This could allow the attacker to perform activities such as accessing the mailboxes of other users. Exploitation of this vulnerability requires Exchange Web Services (EWS) to be enabled and in use in an affected environment. To exploit the vulnerability, an attacker would need to change parameters in the Security Access Token and forward it to a Microsoft Exchange Server, thereby allowing impersonation of another Exchange user. To address this vulnerability, Microsoft has changed the way EWS handles these tokens.
This vulnerability does not apply to Exchange 2010.

  • CVE-2020-0688: Microsoft Exchange Memory Corruption Vulnerability

A remote code execution vulnerability exists in Microsoft Exchange Server when the server fails to properly create unique keys at install time. Knowledge of a the validation key allows an authenticated user with a mailbox to pass arbitrary objects to be deserialized by the web application, which runs as SYSTEM. The security update addresses the vulnerability by correcting how Microsoft Exchange creates the keys during install.

The CVE documents contain more details on the vulnerabilities. In addition, KB4536989 (Rollup 30) for Exchange 2010 and KB4536988 for Exchange 2013 also fixes the following issue:

  • KB4540267 MSExchangeDelivery.exe or EdgeTransport.exe crashes in Exchange Server 2013 and Exchange Server 2010

The exploits can be fixed by single security update, which you can find in the table below per current Exchange version.

ExchangeDownloadBuildKBSupersedes
Exchange 2019 CU4Download15.2.529.8KB4536987KB4523171
Exchange 2019 CU3Download15.2.464.11KB4536987KB4523171
Exchange 2016 CU15Download15.1.1913.7KB4536987KB4523171
Exchange 2016 CU14Download15.1.1847.7KB4536987KB4523171
Exchange 2013 CU23Download15.0.1497.6KB4536988KB4523171
Exchange 2010 SP3 RU30KB4536989KB4509410

Be advised that the Security Updates for Exchange 2013-2019 are Cumulative Update level specific. Unfortunately, the security update carries the same name for different CUs, and you cannot apply the update for Exchange 2016 CU15 to Exchange 2016 CU14. I would suggest tagging the Cumulative Update in the file name used, e.g. Exchange2016-CU15-KB4536987-x64-en.msp.

Also, run the Security Update from an elevated command prompt, to prevent issues during installation. And on a final note, as with any patch or update, I’d recommend to apply this in a acceptance environment first, prior to implementing it in production.

Exchange Updates – December 2019

Exchange2019Logo

The Exchange Team released the quarterly Cumulative Updates for Exchange Server 2019 as well as Exchange 2016. One significant change with these updates is the requirement for .NET Framework 4.8, as announced earlier. Also, Exchange 2019 CU4 comes with an updated Exchange calculator. Links to the updates as well as a description of changes and fixes are described below.

VersionBuildKBDownloadUMLPSchema
Exchange 2019 CU415.2.529.5 KB4522149VLSC N
Exchange 2016 CU1515.1.1913.5 KB4522150DownloadUMLPN

Exchange 2019 CU4 fixes:

  • 4528696 Exchange PowerShell cmdlets take longer time to run in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4528695 Event ID 4009 when using SubjectOrBodyMatchesPatterns on Edge server in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4528694 Can’t open .ics file in Outlook on the web in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4528692 “A parameter was specified that isn’t valid” error when creating transport rule in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4523519 Set-SendConnector doesn’t work for Exchange Server in hybrid scenarios with Edge Server installed
  • 4528688 Only one recipient shows when saving draft by using Exchange ActiveSync version 16.0 in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4528693 Get-CalendarDiagnosticLog is proxied for queries within the same forest in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4528687 NotificationClient logs aren’t purged and consume lots of disk in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4528689 Outlook on the web shows MailTip when recipients equal the large audience size in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4528690 Can’t move or delete folder in Outlook online mode if the destination has a folder with the same name in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4532744 System.ArgumentNullException when you use Set-user to assign block legacy auth policy in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4532747 Address list separation not working for a user without a mailbox in Exchange Server 2019
  • 4523171 Description of the security update for Microsoft Exchange Server 2019, 2016, and 2013: November 12, 2019

Exchange 2016 CU15 fixes:

  • 4515256 “The function cannot be performed…” error when you send a message that’s open for a long time in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4528693 Get-CalendarDiagnosticLog is proxied for queries within the same forest in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4523519 Set-SendConnector doesn’t work for Exchange Server in hybrid scenarios with Edge Server installed
  • 4528690 Can’t move or delete folder in Outlook online mode if the destination has a folder with the same name in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4528687 NotificationClient logs aren’t purged and consume lots of disk in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4528689 Outlook on the web shows MailTip when recipients equal the large audience size in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4528688 Only one recipient shows when saving draft by using Exchange ActiveSync version 16.0 in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4528695 Event ID 4009 when using SubjectOrBodyMatchesPatterns on Edge server in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4528694 Can’t open .ics file in Outlook on the web in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4528692 “A parameter was specified that isn’t valid” error when creating transport rule in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4515257 Hash mismatch is reported for Exchange DLLs in the bin directory of Exchange Server 2016
  • 4528696 Exchange PowerShell cmdlets take longer time to run in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4532747 Address list separation not working for a user without a mailbox in Exchange Server 2016
  • 4523171 Description of the security update for Microsoft Exchange Server 2019, 2016, and 2013: November 12, 2019

Notes:

  • These Cumulative Updates do not contain schema changes compared to their previous Cumulative Update.
  • When upgrading from an n-2 or earlier version of Exchange, or an early version of the .NET Framework, consult Upgrade Paths for CU’s & .NET.
  • Don’t forget to put the Exchange server in maintenance mode prior to updating. Regardless, setup will put the server in server-wide offline mode post-analysis, before making actual changes.
  • When using Exchange hybrid deployments or Exchange Online Archiving (EOA), you are required to delay installing at most one version (n-1).
  • If you want to speed up the update process for systems without internet access, you can follow the procedure described here to disable publisher’s certificate revocation checking.
  • Cumulative Updates can be installed directly; no need to install RTM prior to installing Cumulative Updates.
  • Once installed, you can’t uninstall a Cumulative Update nor any of the installed Exchange server roles.
  • The order of installation shouldn’t matter with the “every server is an island” concept, yet recommended is to upgrade internet-facing, non-internet-facing servers first, followed by Edge Transports.

Caution:

As for any update, I recommend to thoroughly test updates in a test environment prior to implementing them in production. When you lack such facilities, hold out a few days and monitor the comments on the original publication or forums for any issues.

Blocking Self-Service Purchases

o365logo

On October 23rd, Microsoft announced – a little out of the blue – they were going to introduce self-service purchase options for users on November 19th. The details of this change were put forward in a post in the message center, article MC193609 to be exact. In short, this option would introduce the following changes for commercial tenants:

  • Allow end users to purchase Power Platform related subscriptions using their own payment method, e.g. Power Apps, Automate (formerly Flow) or PowerBI Pro.
  • These subscriptions could be made in their employee’s tenant, with the exception of government, non-profit and education.
  • It would not end with Power Platform subscriptions.
  • To make purchases, end users would be able to open a restricted view of the Microsoft 365 Admin Center.

While a handful individuals cheered ‘Power to the end user’, the vast majority of organizations were very unhappy with this development to say the least. This adoption booster would not only be opposing Microsoft’s own ‘Cloud on your terms’ and ‘Your tenant, your data’ principles they have been telling customers for years, it could also severely impact enterprise security and governance policies (or absence thereof), let alone lead to discussions when people expense their PowerBI Pro purchase. And I’m not even talking about the absence of admin controls.

So, swiftly after the massive backlash on social media, UserVoice as well as other channels, the announcement was altered, and a FAQ was published, which you can read here. The change itself was postponed until January 14th, 2020, and organizations would be handed controls to turn self-service purchases off before roll out.

Rather quietly, details on how to disable self-service purchase have been added to the FAQ. To read on how to accomplish this, continue reading my original blog post over at ENow by clicking here.

Security Updates Exchange 2013-2019 (Nov2019)

Exchange2019LogoA quick blog on recently published security updates for Exchange Server 2013 up to Exchange Server 2019. These fixes address the following vulnerabilities:

  • CVE-2019-1373: Microsoft Exchange Remote Code Execution Vulnerability

The CVE documents contain more details on the vulnerabilities. The exploits can be fixed by single security update, which you can find in the table below per current Exchange version.

ExchangeDownloadBuildKBSupersedes
Exchange 2019 CU3Download15.2.464.7 KB4523171KB4515832
Exchange 2019 CU2Download15.2.397.9 KB4523171 KB4515832
Exchange 2016 CU14Download15.1.1847.5 KB4523171 KB4515832
Exchange 2016 CU13Download15.1.1779.7 KB4523171 KB4515832
Exchange 2013 CU23Download15.0.1497.4 KB4523171 KB4509409

Be advised that the Security Updates for Exchange 2013-2019 are Cumulative Update level specific. Unfortunately, the security update carries the same name for different CUs, and you cannot apply the update for Exchange 2016 CU14 to Exchange 2016 CU13. I would suggest tagging the Cumulative Update in the file name when you store it, e.g. Exchange2016-CU14-KB4523171-x64-en.msp.

As with any patch or update, I’d recommend to apply this in a acceptance environment first, prior to implementing it in production.

Ignite 2019: Exchange & Related Sessions

ignite2019Note: If you are looking for the script to download Ignite contents, you can find it at the TechNet Gallery or Github.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to you, but this is the week of Ignite 2019 in Orlando, where Microsoft and other speakers will not only tell you about the latest and greatest, and how to implement recent products and use their technologies, but also draw more of the roadmap of things to come. Unfortunately, I won’t be attending Ignite (again), but similar to last year Microsoft will be live streaming keynotes, breakouts as well as theater sessions. So, you can watch stuff as it happens in the comfort of your own home or on-demand at a later time.

To access the catalog, including live streams, you can of course dive in the 1981 sessions located on the Ignite portal. Details on sessions, speakers etc. as well as filtering options are already present to help you pick what to watch, and recorded media will be added as it becomes available, including slidedecks.

For your convenience, I made a short list of sessions on Exchange Server, related technologies such as Outlook Mobile but also Teams and Groups, as well as some potentially interesting IT Pros sessions on Graph:

Session When Title Speakers
BRK2296 11/4/2019 2:15 PM Communication in Microsoft 365: Outlook and Teams integration opportunities Brandon Haist
THR2269 11/4/2019 3:00 PM Using Microsoft Teams: What’s new and how to get started Aya Tange, Jeremy Chapman
THR3039 11/4/2019 3:25 PM What’s new in the Office Customization Tool Chris Hopkins
BRK3095 11/4/2019 4:30 PM Understanding the importance of collaboration in modern work and the role O365 plays to unlock your team?s productivity Ronald Pessner, Patrick Gan, Dan Costenaro, Megan Dohnal
BRK2056 11/4/2019 4:30 PM Embrace Office 365 Groups: What’s new and what’s next Mike McLean, Venkat Ayyadevara
BRK2001 11/4/2019 4:30 PM What’s amazing and new in calendaring in Outlook Julia Foran
THR3084 11/4/2019 5:45 PM Microsoft 365 admin: Ask us anything Aaron Woo, Ben Appleby, Alice Appleton, Tim Heeney, Karissa Larson, Yeonsoo Kim
THR1131 11/4/2019 6:20 PM The solution to intranet adoption…Microsoft Teams Daniel Diefendorf
BRK3013 11/5/2019 9:00 AM Modern Exchange IT admin experiences Rahul Gupta, Eddie Savage
BRK1079 11/5/2019 10:15 AM Five hybrid cloud backup and disaster recovery mistakes to avoid Douglas Ko, Shawn Gifford, Carl Holzhauer, Julian Simpson
BRK3140 11/5/2019 10:15 AM Notes from the field: Successfully steering the government to Office 365 Michael Van Horenbeeck
BRK3012 11/5/2019 10:15 AM Exchange hybrid: Advanced scenarios, roadmap, and real-world stories! Andy Ryan, William Holmes
THR2016 11/5/2019 10:20 AM Outlook for Windows: What’s new and what’s next David Gorelik
THR3082 11/5/2019 10:55 AM Protect against phishing and other cyberthreats with Microsoft 365 Business David Bjurman-Birr
THR3083 11/5/2019 12:40 PM Office 365 Groups: Ask us anything Mike McLean, Venkat Ayyadevara, Kolvekar Loveleen Ramachandra, Nivedita Rajani, Salil Kakkar, Arunkumaran Varadharajan
THR2252 11/5/2019 1:50 PM How Microsoft manages its own employee Office 365 tenancy David Haam, David Johnson, Darren Moffatt
ADM50 11/5/2019 2:00 PM Managing across tenant boundaries in Office 365 Steve Silverberg, Robert Lowe
BRK2003 11/6/2019 9:00 AM Get ahead with Outlook mobile: Intelligent technology that helps you stay on top of your day Tali Roth, Michael Palermiti
MLS1035 11/6/2019 9:15 AM Microsoft Graph 101 for developers and IT professionals Yina Arenas, Jeremy Thake
THR3003 11/6/2019 10:55 AM New, fast, and reliable Exchange Online PowerShell cmdlets Tony Redmond
BRK3311 11/6/2019 11:30 AM Outlook mobile: The gold standard for secure communications in the enterprise Ross Smith, Lexi Torres
BRK2005 11/6/2019 12:45 PM Outlook for Mac – re-invented! Vivek Kumar, Alessio Roic
THR2270 11/6/2019 1:50 PM Microsoft Teams for IT admins: What’s new and what you need to know with Anne Michels Anne Michels, Jeremy Chapman
THR2007 11/7/2019 9:00 AM Stop organizing your own meetings ? Let Scheduler do it for you Warren Johnson
BRK3264 11/7/2019 10:15 AM Transform collaboration and fight shadow IT with Office 365 groups Arunkumaran Varadharajan, Sahil Arora
THR3033 11/7/2019 11:30 AM Reading SMTP headers like a boss Jeff Guillet
BRK2059 11/7/2019 11:30 AM Data residency with Office 365 datacenters Brian Day, Adriana Wood
THR2217 11/7/2019 12:05 PM Email is the easy part: Five pitfalls to avoid in tenant-to-tenant migrations Paul Robichaux
BRK3144 11/7/2019 1:00 PM The MVP guide to Office 365 security, Exchange Online edition Theresa Miller
BRK3142 11/7/2019 2:15 PM Things you never knew about Microsoft Teams that might be important some day Tony Redmond
BRK3312 11/7/2019 3:15 PM Office 365 email enhancements that makes your organization smart, safe, and secure Leena Sheth, Kevin Shaughnessy
BRK2104 11/7/2019 3:15 PM Your users are under attack! Strengthen your anti-phishing defense with these O365 ATP best practices Girish Chander
BRK2058 11/8/2019 9:00 AM Deploy Office 365 groups at scale to power Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Yammer, and SharePoint Salil Kakkar, Martina Grom
BRK2002 11/8/2019 9:00 AM There is a new Outlook on the web: See what’s new, fresh, and exciting David Meyers
BRK2090 11/8/2019 9:15 AM Will Microsoft Teams take over from email? Tony Redmond
BRK3248 11/8/2019 10:15 AM Securing Exchange Online from modern threats Brandon Koeller
BRK3257 11/8/2019 10:30 AM Leverage the cloud to strengthen your on-premises Active Directory security Charity Shelbourne, Mark Morowczynski
THR3034 11/8/2019 12:05 PM Twenty minutes to a secure environment Jeff Guillet

Note that the table above was constructed using the Get-EventSession script. I’ll be closely monitoring things this week to try to make sure it can retrieve Ignite contents as it gets published and cope with any changes in publishing as happened in recent years during the event.