Microsoft Exchange and Remote Desktop Services Specialists

SEMblog

Microsoft Exchange Server and
Blackberry Enterprise Server news, views and fixes.

Farewell Exchange 2003

Today is the day that support for Windows XP ends, but it is also the end of another product that was much loved in its day and even now is still in widespread use, and that is Exchange 2003.

 

Exchange 2003 was where I really got heavily involved with the Exchange product. I had played around a bit with Exchange 5.5 and 2000 at previous employers, but it was around the time of Exchange 2003 SP1 release that I really started to spend time with it.

 

I was thrown in to a migration from Exchange 2000 to 2003 within weeks of starting a new job, and having built my first server, interest in the product grew very quickly. It was working on Exchange 2003 problems within the community that first got me recognition from Microsoft via their MVP programme - which I have just been received for the ninth year.

 

Getting RPC over HTTPS to work was my first major achievement, and it became one of the most popular articles on my web site. Documentation wasn't great and it required manual registry changes to work correctly.

 

I remember the joy of having the 16gb database limit increased to 18gb initially, up to 75gb with a registry change that was introduced with one of the service packs.

 

By the time we got to service pack 2, Exchange 2003 was a pretty rock solid product. Reliable, with plenty of third party support. The introduction of ActiveSync over HTTP was particularly important, as just a short time later the iPhone was released which took advantage of it. Until that point, mobile sync support was limited to Windows Mobile devices or Blackberry.
There was a version of ActiveSync at RTM, but until the HTTP version came out, it only really worked for users in the USA, who had free email to text services.

 

Looking at it now, Exchange 2003 is a fairly basic email application, but for many companies it does all that they need. However it is starting to show its age. There are problems with some modern ActiveSync devices and OWA does not like the modern browsers and unless you are using Internet Explorer, the OWA experience is pretty painful. The limitation of 75gb on a database in standard edition is very limiting for all but the smallest of companies.

 

It was also the last version of Exchange that was administrated purely through a GUI. However with email platforms becoming bigger all the time, a GUI only approach quickly showed its weaknesses and the move to a modern scripting language like PowerShell was overdue.

 

 

As with many things, it was good for its time, but the more modern versions of Exchange, particularly Exchange 2010 are simply much better, more feature rich and a lot more suitable for the demands of a modern IT infrastructure. 

Exchange 2007/2010/2013 Outbound SMTP Banner Testing

Back in 2009 I posted that automated tools like those at mxtoolbox will return false negative results on the SMTP banner tests. (http://semb.ee/banner2007)

 

This is because the SMTP banner presented for inbound email is different to outbound email.

 

This is still the case with Exchange 2010 and 2013. You shouldn't try and change the Receive Connector configuration to "fix" this problem as will cause further issues with Exchange.

 

However with those tools providing false information, it raises the question of how do you easily test the banner so that you can see how a remote server will see your server?

 

Of course one way is to simply send an email to a remote server which you have control over, and check the headers. That isn't always practical and if you don't have your own server, using something Gmail or Hotmail might mean the message gets block because you haven't configured things correctly.

 

One of the blacklist operators has setup a system that will show you exactly what you are sending back, in the form of an NDR.

The details are here:

http://cbl.abuseat.org/helocheck.html

 

After sending the message, you will get an NDR back similar to this:

 

 

helocheck.abuseat.org rejected your message to the following e-mail addresses:

 

helocheck@helocheck.abuseat.org (helocheck@helocheck.abuseat.org)

 

 helocheck.abuseat.org gave this error:

*** The HELO for IP address 123.123.123.123 was 'mail.example.co.uk' (valid syntax) ***

 

 A problem occurred during the delivery of this message to this e-mail address. Try sending this message again. If the problem continues, please contact your helpdesk.

 

Diagnostic information for administrators:

 

Generating server: server.example.co.uk

 

helocheck@helocheck.abuseat.org

helocheck.abuseat.org #550 *** The HELO for IP address 123.123.123.123 was 'mail.example.co.uk' (valid syntax) *** ##

 

Original message headers: 

 

 

This service is a quick and easy way to verify the server is configured correctly. 

Blackberry 10 Simulator

If you are curious to see what the Blackberry 10 device is all about, or you need to support it, then the simulator is probably a good choice. This is available free of charge from the Blackberry web site. 

The simulator usually has a more advanced version of the OS than currently available, as it is designed to help developers get ready for the new OS. 

At the time of writing this means 10.2.1 which includes the Android emulation feature. 

System Requirements

Due to the installer Blackberry use, you need to have JAVA installed on the workstation. 

It also requires VMWARE Player or Workstation. 

Installation

The default location during the install is in My Documents. However if you decide to install it somewhere else, then you should run the installer Elevated. After installation the permissions can be out, so give Users full control to the directory where the VM is stored. 

The virtual machine installs with the network set to NAT mode by default - I prefer it to be connecting directly, so change the configuration before booting the VM.  

Use

It is a little slow to load, and do ensure that you have the latest video card drivers and a machine with Hardware virtualisation support enabled in the BIOS. However once loaded and you get your head around the "swiping" with the mouse, it is very quick. 

Once you have it loaded, don't forget to change the keyboard and language settings. I also found the time zone was wrong and the clock was six hours wrong as well, despite "automatic" time sync being enabled. 

Application Installation

You can access the Blackberry App World, you can also use third party App Stores, such as the Amazon App Store. However if required you can also sideload applications. There are various methods to do this, one of the easiest is to use a Google Chrome Extension, which is discussed here:

http://semb.ee/sideload

Exchange Connectivity

Of course as an Exchange MVP, one of the first things I wanted to try was connecting it to Exchange. This works perfectly, I was able to add it to my test Exchange 2013 server very quickly, and also to a test BES 10 server. 

Downloads

The simulator is free to download, and can be found at this link:

http://semb.ee/bbsim 

Twitter

As I have been been granted the trademark "Sembee", I have also changed my twitter handle to @Sembee . http://semb.ee/twitter

Nothing much on the twitter feed at the moment though. 

Stopping Auto Deletion in Mailbox Converted From a Resource

Recently at a client we configured some mailboxes as Resources. 
It was then decided that they would be better off as shared mailboxes, as they could be used for other tasks. Therefore the mailbox was converted to shared:

 

set-mailbox mailboxname -type:shared

 

However any emails sent to the new Shared mailbox were continuing to go in to the Deleted Items folder. This is the standard behaviour for a resource mailbox, as it is only expecting to get calendar items. 

The key is to disable the Calendar processing. You can see the current setting thus:

 

get-calendarprocessing mailboxname | select identity, AutomateProcessing

 

To disable it completely, you need to change the value of AutomateProcessing to none

 

set-calendarprocessing mailboxname -AutomateProcessing None

 

In this case, the folder still needed to accept and process calendar entries, so we changed it to AutoUpdate.

 

set-calendarprocessing mailboxname -AutomateProcessing AutoUpdate

 

The full parameters are discussed in the Technet article:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd335046(v=exchg.141).aspx

 

Kudos to Holly at the client for finding the value which I had completely forgotten about!