Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1 gets a due date

Microsoft's Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack (SP) 1 now has an official due date: Same time as Longhorn Server in the latter half of 2007.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft's Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack (SP) 1 now has an official due date: Same time as Longhorn Server, meaning the latter half of 2007.

Microsoft went public with its Exchange Server 2007 SP1 plans on the Microsoft Exchange Team blog on February 23. Microsoft signed off on the final Exchange Server 2007 bits in December 2006.

"Our work in this (first) service pack is purely in response to your feedback on earlier releases of Exchange 2007," said the Team Blog posting.

The first beta of Exchange 2007 SP1 is set to go to testers via TechNet Plus in April. SP1 will include a number of new features, according to Microsoft, including:

* Continuous standby replication (for customers using Exchange in clustered datacenter environments)

* New mobility-focused policies

* New Outlook Web Access functionality, including support for personal distirbution lists, S/MIME, monthly calendar views and support for viewing Office 2007 file formats as HTML

* Native IPv6 networking support

So what happened to the whole idea that Microsoft might do away with Service Packs all together, starting with Exchange 2007, and replace them with regular hotfix rollups? Hmmm. Good question. Anyone close to the Exchange team have an answer?

Update: The Exchange team itself on February 27 answered my not-so-rhetorical query. Here's a clarification on the new Exchange servicing policy and how it will work, provided to me via e-mail from a Microsoft spokesperson:

"Our servicing method is not intended to do away with service packs. It’s simply a better model for delivering higher quality interim patches to Exchange customers than we have previously been able to do.

"Historically, we shipped hotfixes 'one at a time' which meant that for the most part, one fix would fix one problem. There are exceptions to this, but for high level explanations it’s sufficient.  If during a particular year let’s say we delivered 50 hotfixes to the product. You could pick and choose from any one or all of those 50, and they were all tested to work as delivered singularly.  However, with 50 fixes and any possible combination of those, there are a lot of combinations to validate, and no way to really do it all completely, especially since some of the testing was automated and much of it manual.

"With this new model, when we ship a cumulative rollup, it will contain all hotfixes we have done since the last major milestone (read as RTM or last service pack). We can do this with a high level of confidence that we’re not introducing new problems because of our much more automated test system. So, for Exchange 2007, the process will be more controlled, better tested, and easier to keep a server up to date with all known problems fixed.  We can confidently tell people just to stay on the latest rollup patch, and they’ll be as up to date as possible without reading through a myriad of documentation on exactly which patches to apply and which to skip over."


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