Updates to the Exchange Supportability Matrix

Published Nov 30 2009 02:58 PM 15.2K Views

With the release of Exchange 2007 SP2 we provided a Supportability Matrix which outlined the supported configurations for Exchange 2000 SP3, Exchange 2003 SP2, and Exchange 2007 (RTM, SP1, and SP2).   But as many are aware, with the release of Windows Server 2008 R2 there have been a variety of questions raised about our support policies and a multitude of feedback.  Two pieces of feedback occurred numerous times -  the need to support Exchange 2007 on Windows Server 2008 R2 and the need to support Exchange 2003 against Windows Server 2008 R2 Active Directory servers. 

In response to this feedback we will be making several updates to the supportability matrix.

  • As I recently blogged about, we will be adding support for Exchange 2007 on the Windows Server 2008 R2 platform.   While we had hoped to add this application/operating system combination quickly, unfortunately adding this support requires code changes to setup in Exchange 2007.  Therefore, our vehicle for adding this support will be via a third Service Pack for Exchange 2007 in the second half of calendar year 2010.
  • Exchange 2003 SP2 will now be supported against writeable Windows Server 2008 R2 Active Directory Servers.  Additionally, with the General Availability of Exchange Server 2010, and those looking to standardize on Windows Server 2008 R2 we have enhanced the supportability of forest and domain functional levels up to Windows Server 2008 R2.  This change is effective immediately on Exchange 2003 SP2.
  • Exchange 2007 is now supported on servers running .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 provided that the .NET platform was upgraded from .NET Framework 2.0.  This change is also effective immediately on Exchange 2007 SP2.

Each of these changes are being made to provide the flexibility you requested - to change your operating system architecture without changing your messaging architecture.  In addition to the existing combinations, we will be adding supportability guidance for Exchange 2010 to the matrix.    Note that all of these changes may not immediately appear on the supportability matrix, but be assured that any documentation update lag will not affect your supportability with Microsoft Support.

Finally I do want to update all on one other piece of feedback we have received - allowing the in place upgrade of the operating system under Exchange.  Technically the work required to provide this capability is consistent with the work we would need to do to support an in-place upgrade of Exchange itself.  As such the amount of work needed is outside the scope and complexity of what we can do in a post release product update.  Still we do understand the demand and desire and it is something we will continue to look at for future versions of the product.

While we hope these changes are welcome news and address questions you may have had, we also understand we have areas to improve in.  Our desire is to simplify and improve the support experience with Exchange.   If you have more feedback, please continue to provide it.

Kevin Allison
General Manager, Exchange Customer Experience

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Awesome!!  Thank you for listening to your customers.
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Hell yeah! Thank you very much for the changes regarding 2003 SP2. This will save us a lot of time going forward.
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Thank you very much.  The 2003 SP2 support with 2008 R2 was critical for us and it's incredibly welcome news to hear that you're supporting it.
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Thank YOU!  This will help a lot of customers that want to be up to date!
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Great news.  We're still going to have 150+ Ex2003 boxes in the mix with some Ex2007 for the next year or so (we're leaving them alone until the hardware is out of warranty and then we'll embrace 64bit on the new hardware and/or virtualize... maybe even take them straight to 2010 at that point) and we've been the roadblock to moving the AD functional levels up to 2008.  Now we can let our AD people do their thing.  So although it may seem you are supporting old stuff, this will let other areas of our org move to newer Microsoft products instead of waiting for the lowest common denominator to be ready.
Is it correct to say that this is just a change to the support policy and 2008 AD functional levels will work with no new patches for 2003 SP2?
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Ditto on the thanks.

Just so we're clear ... Is Exchange 2003 SP2 supported in an environment with writeable 2008-R2 DC's and a domain functional level of 2008-R2 as of today without any additional patches for the Exchange 2003 SP2 server ?
If thats the case can the Best Practices Analyzer for Exchange 2003 be updated so that it does not complain about a 2008-R2 schema ?

Thanks Again !
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Great, Kevin!

What's the best way to provide feedback? If it's via blog comments here's some feedback for Exchg2010:
- Setup can be annoying (A service timeout while starting, setup aborted and left me with a messed up configuration. Restarting setup takes forever...)
- I'd love to use UM with the SIP gateway from our ISP. It's a UDP service with authentication. I wished I could just add this info to a contact to UM-enable it. Unfortunately this seems not possible. I read online that I could setup a Linux box with Asterisk (and other software) to act as a proxy to enable this scenario... Seriously!?!
- It'd be great if we I missed/incoming calls from my mobile in Outlook.
- The description of Microsoft.Exchange.ContentFilter.Wrapper.exe is "CoreXT base ATL7 service exe test".
- Database Availability Groups are great!!!

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@Simon - the replies on an Exchange team blog entry should be relevant to the post, specifically in this case to the Exchange supportability matrix.

If you aren't sure where you should post your feedback on the product, then I would suggest visiting the Exchange forums to discuss your concerns/challenges.
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While I agree, Exchange 2003 servers should be able to work against Server 2008 R2 DC's, I fail to see the point of recoding E2007 to work on 2008 R2 servers.  E2007 and W2008R1 have been working together for 2 years now, many many bugs worked out, why would I even want to put E2007 on R2, especially a year from now, with E2010 available.  

Maybe it's just me, but I think I would want the MS engineers to be focused on the E2010/S2008R2 bugs, then retro fitting E2007 to work with IIS 7.5.
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Is the .Net 3.5 SP1 compatibility just a support statement?

Or are there actually reported cases of issues with it being installed on unsupported Exchange configurations?
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This is just the answer we've been waiting for. I am not doubting credentials but is there any official documentation around this eg Technet KBs?
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@ Sam Tudorov - yes, no patches required. Good question on the BPA, I'll ask.

@ Ronald S Woan - yes it is a statement, as we have done testing for it now and it just works.

@ Geoff_UK - yup, we are updating the Supportability Matrix, should be live within few days. We wanted to get the word out as fast as possible though as we know our customers asked for this.

- Nino
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Just to echo some comments. Will Exchange 2003 work with writable R2 domain controllers at R2 level with no patching etc. Is it merely a soft support option or is anything needed. Obviously people would be worried about moving from 2003 R2 AD service to 2003 R2 AD service with no effect on Exchange 2003. Some clarity would be really appreciated

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"Why would the developers spend time working on getting E2007 with 2008 R2?" was asked.  Just because those are the two currently released products from each family is why.  It's not just that those two products need to be made to work together, but there are a lot of 3rd party products that hook into Exchange, and it takes time to get them supporting new versions.  Anyone use backup software on Exchange?  Or fax software that integrates with Exchange? Or Blackberry Enterprise Server? Archiving/compliance software?

E-mail is a key application to any company today and to have not supported the E2007 and 2008 R2 combination from the initial release of 2008 R2 was a mistake that they have thankfully corrected.  Now if the delivery date could just be pushed up to 2010 Q1....
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Funny, I could have sworn Exchange 2010 was the currently released product from the Exchange family and not 2007.
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Even with this proposed support, I still have to build a new 2008 R2 environment (separate from my working environment), and then "rebuild" my 2003 R2 environment right?

I can't just upgrade the underlying OS on my Exchange 2003 R2 servers right?

What extras are necessary on the 2008 R2 server to make this work?  Are they installed automatically?  Seems like a pain.
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UnKnowingly we migrated from exchange 2003 to Exchange 2007 on top of a server running Server 2008 R2.  We did get a permissions error when trying to install but found a workaround to get it installed.  Now after migrating all our users and not having any problems.  We find out that our Exchange 2007 sp2 is unsupported on server 2008 r2.  Short of moving to another 2007 exchange server or 2010 exchange server.  what If we risk it and stay as is on this platform until Exchange 2007 sp3 arrives could we even upgrade to sp3 on our current unsupported platform and then be ok?
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"While we had hoped to add this application/operating system combination quickly, unfortunately adding this support requires code changes to setup in Exchange 2007."

that's it? Setup code? That would go along with what I've seen installing Exchange 2007 on R2 now. No difference whatsoever, except that you cannot install SP2 on Exchange. big deal.
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I have a customer with a similar situation to the one "extradeck" describes.  The Mailbox Role installed failed the first time, but they were already fighting permission issues and thought they were related...got around it by installing with the compatability mode people have mentioned.  Anyways, discovered later that it was unsupported...so far in conversations with Microsoft they claim they won't support it (at all).  It is running perfectly, no issues whatsoever...will hope that "best effort" support would be considered, and that SP3 will make this scenario a supported one.
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I have installed a W2K8R2 Domain Controller into our domain and moved the functional level to 2008 R2.

On a separate server, I have Exchange 2003 SP2 running on Windows 2003 SP2.

E-mail is working without any problems, but I cannot add new mailboxes to my Exchange server using the Active Directory Usersr and Computers plugin on the Exchange server.

I have tried creating the user on my 2008 R2 domain controller and then using the AD Users and Computetrs on the Exchange server to create the mailbox.  This does not work either.

Anyone know how to get this to work?
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As of today (12/20), the Supportability Matrix you linked to does *not* have Exchange 2003 SP2 x'ed for 2008 R2. The x's (top down) for Exchange 2003 SP2 stop at 2008 SP2.
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Still not updated on the Matrix!....
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I agree - The matrix was updated after the article was released but it hasn't been updated to officially confirm what has been outlined in the article. How come?
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Whats the deal on the matrix?

Does Exchange 2003 SP2 support Server 2008R2 Global Catalogs or what?
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jbotsford - As the blog article states, Exchange 2003 SP2 is supported against Windows 2008 R2 writeable Active Directory servers.

The Supportability Matrix is scheduled for refresh this week.

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Thanks for the response Ross. I read what the blog stated several times. However, the matrix was supposed to be refreshed within a few days of December 2nd. It is now January 12th.
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Maybe it's just me but I'm not confortable making the move until the official documents are updated - This has made me put it off until those few crosses are added to the matrix. I'd hate to run into problems leading to a support call be placed and not have something in black and white for the Microsoft site saying it's a supported config.
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We are also looking at the W2008 AD route with Exchange 2003 SP2.  Had a response from the TAM stating that this is supported and also the matrix has been updated to reflect this now.


An official green light we need I think.
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Could someone please answer extradeck's question?  I was in the process of installing Exchange 2007 on 2008 R2 and received the mentioned error when installing the Mailbox role.  I was about to install it in compatibility mode which I have seen mentioned in other places that it works.  I want to make sure that this will be OK until SP3 is released, but don't want to wait until the second half of this year.   I also would prefer to not have to uninstall Exchange 2007, uninstall Server 2008 R2, reinstall Server 2008, and reinstall Exchange 2007.
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JS - Exchange 2007 RTM, SP1, and SP2 are UNSUPPORTED on Windows Server 2008 R2.  Running in compatibility mode is not supported.  Please wait for Exchange 2007 SP3 before deploying on Windows Server 2008 R2.

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Thank you for responding so quickly.  It appears however that the solution offered means that I will either have to wait until the second half of this year to install Exchange 2007, or not be able to use the 2008 R2 that we purchased.  Instead I will have to uninstall Exchange and server 2008 R2 and downgrade to 2008 R1, and reinstall.  Is that the only solution you are aware of?  The install of 2007, before error-ing out already updated the AD schema.  Is there any dangers you know of in removing 2007 and 2008 R2 from this server?  Should I delete the server object from AD?  Or just reset it before doing the re-install as 2008 R1?    
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One last thing, the Exchange 2007 installation added the new "Exchange Administrative Group" and the new server to the Exchange Management Console on our existing Exchange 2003 org.  Do you have any documentation on removing Exchange 2007 from an Exchange 2003 organization so that I can do the uninstall and reinstall?  

It is a shame that when the Exchange 2007 install checks the prerequisites and even downloads the new prereqs before installing, it doesn't notice that 2008 R2 is installed and instead allows the install to continue.

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I am thinking that the best thing to do is to treat this as a disaster recovery situation and to not try to remove the 2007 server from the Exchange organization.  Instead I think I should just format the hard drive of the server, reinstall server 2008 R1 with the same server name, and reinstall Exchange 2007 in disaster recovery mode.  Do you agree that this is the best course of action?  I appreciate your help on this matter.
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Dear Sirs and Madame,

What is your opinion about this method of direct Win2000/Exch2000 to Win2008R2/Exch2010 changeover for a very small 12-person, one office location company?

1., Export the mailbox data from Exchange 2000 organization on your Windows 2000 Server.

2., Use the 64-bit edition of Outlook 2010 and the "Exchange 2010 Management Tools" on a Windows7 workstation to import mailbox data back to Exchange 2010 organization onto the Win2008R2 Server.

3., Send old Win2000 Server dual Pentium-IIIS system to long term storage and eventual recycling.

The Exchange 2010 on Windows 2008R2 would co-exist with a mail/web security purpose Linux system inside a XEN virtualization hardware (AMD Phenom-II quad-core machine with a total of 8GB RAM).

Thanks in advance, Sincerely: Tamas Feher, 2F 2000, Hungary.
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Other things to think about - extracting your GAL related information, smtp addresses etc, so that you can add that data back after you deploy E2010.

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