Exchange Server 2019 Preview is here!

Ex2013 LogoToday, long after its announcement at Ignite 2017, finally Exchange Server 2019 Public Preview was released. The Product Groups’ post contains information on the changes and features introduced with this Exchange 2019 Public Preview version, some of which were already teased at at Ignite 2017, e.g. session BRK3222 (announcement) and BRK3249 (Modern Authentication on-premises).

The most noticeable changes included in this Public Preview are summarized below. But before continuing, you can start downloading the Exchange 2019 Public Preview bits here.

Deployment
No official statement on required Forest and Domain Functional Levels, so it’s the same for Exchange 2019 Preview as for Exchange 2016, which is Windows Server 2008 R2 minimum. That might change at release time though, as Windows Server 2008 R2 is already in extended support. With WS2012 going out of mainstream support in October, WS2012 R2 is the most likely FFL/DFL requirement.

The build number of the preview is 15.2.191.1; the schema version for Exchange 2019 Public Preview is the same as Exchange 2016 CU7 and later, 15332.

Operating Systems
Exchange 2019 Public Preview can be installed on Windows Server 2016 as well as Windows Server 2019 Preview, both Desktop Experience and Core editions. Yes, Exchange 2019 runs on Server Core! In fact, the Exchange team really want you to try running it on Server Core. Also, by running on Server Core, you are reducing the potential attack surface, which makes it more secure system.

Scaling
Exchange 2019 can take advantage of hardware developments, and will support a larger number of cores as well as memory. Where Exchange 2016 scaling support was limited to 24 cores and 192GB of memory, Exchange 2019 will happily support up to 48 CPU cores and 256GB of memory.

Search and Indexing
Search will leverage yet another a new engine, Big Funnel, which is already being used for Exchange Online. Result of this change is that indexes will no longer be a separate ecosystem of files per database copy, but will be stored within the mailbox database. The advantages of this are that indexes will leverage the existing replication mechanism and protection offered by the Database Availability Group, and as indexes replicate with the data, this also means no more rebuilding of unhealthy indexes or trailing content indexes. This is also beneficial for fail-over times.

Storage
Exchange 2019 will support tiering of storage using SSD’s at release time, but that is currently not enabled for the Public Preview release. SSD’s are going to be used to store (read/write) hot data in a sort of intelligent cache, lowering overall latency and in the end benefitting user experience.

Calendaring
imageThe new Calendar Sharing model from Office 365 will be ported to Exchange on-premises. More information on this feature in Exchange Online here.

Also in the ported functionality department, it will be possible for meeting organizers to set Do not Forward for meeting requests, preventing attendees from forwarding those meeting requests to others.

And last but not least, administrators will receive some convenient PowerShell cmdlets to manage Calendars, such as Remove-CalendarEvents for cancelling future meetings on attendee and resource calendars, and Add-MailboxFolderPermission gets the SharingPermissionFlags parameter to assign delegate permissions.

Unified Messaging
Exchange 2019 will no longer support Unified Messaging. If you’re using a 3rd party PBX or Skype for Business Server, that will no longer work with Exchange 2019. In those circumstances, apart from staying on or migrating to Exchange 2016 for the time being depending on your scenario, steps to take when you want to migrate to Exchange 2019 in those circumstances will be:

  • Migrate to Skype for Business Server 2019 using Cloud Voice-Mail.
  • Migrate to Office 365 with Cloud Voice-Mail.

Co-existence
No official statement yet, but if the policy set by Exchange 2016 and Exchange 2013 continues, only Exchange major version n-2 will be supported for co-existence, meaning Exchange 2013 and later for co-existence, and the need to leverage Exchange 2016 when migrating from Exchange 2010 (EOL April 2020).

.NET Framework
No word yet on supportability, so assume the same policy as for the latest Exchange 2013 and Exchange 2016 CU’s, which require .NET Framework 4.7.1. No information yet if .NET Framework 4.7.2 is or will be supported.

UCMA
The required UCMA for Server Core is provided with the ISO, and is located in the UCMAredist subfolder.

Concluding
Of course, with Ignite coming up end of September, it is expected a lot more will be disclosed on the new Exchange release, such as guidance on the deprecation of UM, deploying Modern Authentication, storage tiering and Core support.

Needless to say, this is a preview. It’s great to play with in a lab, but don’t install it in your production environment unless you are part of the TAP program. I repeat, this is not intended for your production deployment.

Apart from Exchange 2019 Preview, other previews of wave 2019 products were also released today (or earlier):

Finally, the update of the Hybrid Configuration Wizard app with integrated Licensing feature was released today as well. You can access it at http://aka.ms/HybridWizard.

Exchange Server 2016 Preview is here!

Ex2013 LogoAnd so it begins. Few moments ago, the Exchange team published the public preview of Exchange 2016. The build number of the preview version is 15.1.225.17 (yes, 15.1.*, not 16.*). Exchange 2016 Preview raises schema to version 15317.

The team’s post contains information on the changes and features introduced in Exchange 2016. Many of these were already announced at Ignite earlier this year. An earlier blog post on these announcements can be found here.

With this Exchange 2016 Preview, there are important deviations from announcements made at Ignite 2015:

  • Minimum required Forest Functional Level (FFL) and Domain Functional Level (DFL) is Windows Server 2008. At Ignite is was announced Windows Server 2008 R2 FFL/DFL would be required.
  • Supported Operating Systems will be Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2. At Ignite, it was announced Windows Server 2012 was not going to be supported. Note that Windows Server 10 (Windows Server 2016) is currently in preview, is not (yet) supported, but likely will be at or shortly after both reach RTM status.
  • Coexistence requires  Exchange Server 2013 Cumulative Update 8 or Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 3 Rollup 9. This is lower than Exchange 2013 CU10+ or Exchange 2010 SP3 RU11+ as was mentioned at Ignite.
  • Exchange 2016 Preview works with Outlook 2013, Outlook 2010 with KB2965295, or Outlook 2016 (currently in Preview). This is a lower requirement than Outlook 2010 SP2 with KB2956191 and KB2965295 or Outlook 2013 SP1 with KB3020812 as announced at Ignite. Note that Mac users can utilize Outlook for Mac for Office 365 or Outlook for Mac 2011.
  • Not mentioned at Ignite, but something which recently was introduced in Exchange Online, is the introduction of auto-expanding In-Place Archives in Exchange 2016 Preview. After filling up the initial archive with 100 GB (default quota), Exchange will create auxiliary archives in chunks of 50 GB. To the end user using Outlook 2016 or Outlook for the web (the new Outlook WebApp branding), these archives will appear as a single archive. Downlevel Outlook clients will only display the initial 100 GB archive.

Meanwhile, the TechNet technical library has been updated with information on Exchange 2016. Be advised that this documentation may be incomplete and subject to change, and in fact may even be not on par with the preview product. However, as the product reaches RTM, the documentation should become more complete and final.

Some links to get you started:

  • The official announcement from the Exchange Team can be found here
  • Preliminary documentation for Exchange 2016 can be found on TechNet here
  • Documentation on Active Directory schema changes for Exchange 2016 can be found here

Needless to say, this is a preview. It’s great to play with in a lab, but don’t install it in your production environment unless you are part of the TAP program.

You can download the Exchange 2016 Preview here