BIG News from TechˇEd: 10 Year Support Term
Microsoft announced a new long-term support policy at TechˇEd.
Andy Lees, their Veep of server and tools business, said they will
now guarantee a minimum of 10 years of support for all business
and developer products. That's big news, and very welcome to boot.
Redmond currently shuts down most basic support levels after eight
years, to everyone's chagrin. Lees stated the new policy provides
more reliability for corporate customers. "From the time of shipment,
you can guarantee a much more predictable level of support," he said.
The news was part of a blizzard of product announcements and
technology demos that included the release of Redmond's new
"Common Engineering Roadmap" and a preview of the refresh for
Windows Server 2003 that is due out next year. More at the
Exchange 2003 Gets Basic Spam Filter
Exchange has an impressive 31 % share of the corporate messaging
software market, and by year-end 2004 it is estimated the corporate
Exchange installed base will total 114.2 million mailboxes. Exchange
V5.5 currently accounts for 40 % of the corporate installed base.
MS Outlook accounts for 74 % of the worldwide corporate e-mail client
installed base. At TechˇEd it became clear that Redmond will allow
all Exchange 2003 customers to download and install the Intelligent
Message Filtering (IMF), an add-on that blocks spam. They expanded
this from only customers enrolled in the expensive Software Assurance
The change is part of the release of E2K3 Service Pack 1, the first
major bunch of updates. A spokesperson said: "given the customer
needs we're seeing around spam, we decided IMF needed to be available
to all customers". Ummm, well if that were entirely true they would
have bent over backward and also worked out something for E2K and
Version 5.5. As I see it this is just as much a carrot to entice
people to upgrade faster to E2K3. But the IMF really is very basic.
Some "first look" observations are:
There are still questions about its usability regarding POP users,
mailboxes accessed by multiple people, public folder support,
discussion list whitelisting, and centralized quarantining.
- Not granular (it's an all or nothing approach)
- Difficult to get a good handle on message scores for tuning, can't tune on an individual or group basis
- No custom rules, just global whitelist/blacklist
- User only get whitelist/blacklist if they use OWA or Outlook 2003
- Appears to require all Exchange Servers be 2003, no E2K boxes will work
It assigns a Spam Confidence Level (SCL) based on Microsoft's
SmartScreen technology (an SCL is basically like iHateSpam's
spam threshold score).
There are two levels of filtering -- at the entry point, and then
at the client level. At the entry point, you can have an email
archived, deleted, rejected, etc. based on meeting the SCL.
It works with Outlook 2003/OWA 2003, integrating with the Junk
Mail folder, Block Senders and Allowed Senders. However, you
do not need Outlook 2003, but then you do not get whitelist
and blacklists. The IMF is basically a tab in a dialog box, with
just a couple of settings. No word yet as to how they are going
to keep it updated; it will probably provide decent spam
filtering, but a spam filter like IHS SE layered on top of
it will result in extremely high detection and way more
We are working on a good amount of additional functionality to
IHS SE such as antivirus (using multiple engines), content
filtering and content auditing. Spam detection is only becoming
a starting point for mail hygiene/security -- now the goal is
to completely secure and protect enterprises from email-borne
threats and nuisances. And in our case, we'll do it effectively
and inexpensively. Look out Trend, Sybari, Symantec... [grin]
You could use IMF on a gateway server to reject a percentage of
messages and then let a third party spam tool like iHateSpam Server
IHS do the fine work, but then you'd need to buy a license of E2K3
for that Gateway and that is expensive. Hmmm. Here are the release
notes of Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 1:
Microsoft's New Caller ID Against Spam
Redmond is working on technology to verify the sender of a message,
and in that way enable you to block "spoofed" junk messages. They
plan to release the technology next year in the new Exchange Edge
Services. The latter is a security-focused add-on for Exchange
that you will hear more about soon, but here is a preview on the
First Demo Of "Client Inspection And Isolation" Tool
The first major change in W2K3 will have a cool new piece of
software thrown in. It inspects PCs trying to connect to your
corporate domain (including VPN's) to make sure that the PC that
tries to connect is correctly configured for basic security.
They described it as: "You get to frisk the client, make sure
it's clean...before you let it into your network." If that
machine is found lacking a security feature, like the AV software
is not updated, you can tell the server to remotely update it
before allowing the PC to connect to your domain. Sounds promising
but I would not want that thing to turn of the new WinXP firewall
automatically because that could break a whole bunch of existing
OK, So How Is Redmond Going To Make Life Easier?
It's called "Common Engineering Roadmap". At TechˇEd they rolled
out their long-term initiative fully named the Windows Server System
Common Engineering Roadmap. It's geared to make certain chunks of
code of ALL Microsoft servers internally consistent and/or
standardized with each other to simplify things.
The Common Engineering Roadmap (CER) is also their way to implement
their Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI), that I told you about earlier.
DSI is Redmond's version of self-managing and self-healing systems.
The CER criteria are going into effect Jan 1, 2005. To make this a
bit more real here is an example. One of the criteria is to include
using MOM 2005 to remotely manage and monitor all Windows servers.
(If you can afford MOM, that is)
Redmond told attendees that the criteria are a form of integration
that we often complain is lacking. They also announced general
availability of Windows Storage Server 2003 Feature Pack that will
integrate with E2K3 and store Exchange database and log files on
NAS devices to consolidate storage.
Oh, and don't forget the SQL Best Practices Analyzer Tool, run it
and you may be surprised what you can do to improve your SQL
installations. Get it now and play. The results might shock you.
Another Freebee From Seattle
In the same vein as the item above, MS released a new tool
announced at TechˇEd called the Server Performance Advisor 1.0.
It is for Windows 2003 server only, not W2K.
Service Performance Advisor is a server performance diagnostic tool
developed to diagnose root causes of performance problems in the W2K3
operating system, particularly performance problems for IIS 6.0 and
the Active DirectoryŽ directory service. Server Performance Advisor
measures the performance and use of resources by your computer to
report on the parts that are stressed under workload. Other server
roles include system overview (hot files, hot TCP clients, top CPU
consumed), print spooler, context switch data and preliminary File
Server trace data.