I've always been fascinated by meta-information (i.e., information about information), and plenty of Web-oriented companies serve it up. For example, Google's Zeitgeist page ( http://www.google.com/press/zeitgeist.html ) shows the popularity of various search terms over time, and at least one search engine has a feature that lets you see a sample of current searches in real time. Microsoft maintains an interesting meta-information page for Exchange Server: http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/downloads/mostpopular.asp lists the most popular downloads from Microsoft's Exchange Web site. The top 10 downloads reveal some interesting trends in the Exchange market and might point out some resources you've missed. Let's take a look at the list as it stands at the moment I write this.
In the #10 slot is the "What's New In Exchange 2003" white paper. This is a fairly short, reasonably technical summary of new features in Exchange Server 2003. The paper will be of interest primarily to people who are evaluating whether to deploy Exchange 2003.
At #9, we find the book "Planning an Exchange 2003 Messaging System." This meaty technical document describes the planning considerations associated with building an Exchange 2003 system. The book is valuable reading for anyone planning to deploy Exchange 2003.
If you don't like downloading documents one by one, the #8 download is for you. Weighing in at about 58MB, this download file is an archive of several useful white papers, including "Working with Exchange 2000 Server Store Permissions," "Monitoring Exchange 2000 Server with MOM," and "Mailbox Recovery for Microsoft Exchange 2000." Although many of these documents apply to Exchange 2003, all of them apply first to Exchange 2000 Server.
The Exchange 2003 Deployment Tools package comes in at #7. These tools are a key feature of Exchange 2003 because they help you scan your Exchange 2000 or Exchange Server 5.5 environment and identify what you need to do to migrate to Exchange 2003. The tools are available on the Exchange 2003 CD-ROM, but their presence on this list tells me that a sizable number of Exchange 5.5 sites are testing the waters to see how their environments will fare before laying down the money to buy Exchange 2003.
The #6 item--Exchange 2000 Service Pack 3 (SP3)--surprised me a bit. So long (6 months) after the service pack's release, I assumed that everyone using Exchange 2000 would already have installed SP3, but apparently I was wrong.
The ExMerge utility, which you can use to move mailboxes from one server or organization to another, weighs in at #5. The current version works with Exchange 2003 and earlier and includes bug fixes as well as welcome performance improvements. The downloads page is the easiest way to get the utility's most up-to-date version.
Proving that administrators are a curious lot, the #4 position belongs to the "Exchange Server 2003 Administration Guide." This comprehensive how-to guide covers common Exchange 2003 administrative tasks and is well worth reading whether or not you already run Exchange 2003.
At position #3 is the Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) management pack for Exchange 2003. In a somewhat unusual move, Microsoft is releasing free MOM packs for various products instead of nickel-and-diming MOM customers by making them buy individual add-ons for each product. MOM is becoming increasingly popular because of its flexibility and power, so it makes sense that MOM users would want to add Exchange management to their tool chests.
In the #2 position, we find the 22MB+ archive of all the Exchange 2003 tools currently available from the Web site, including the Exchange 2003 versions of the Jetstress, Microsoft Exchange Load Simulator (LoadSim), and Exchange Stress and Performance (ESP) tools.
What's #1? Unsurprisingly, it's the excellent "Exchange 2003 Deployment Guide." This guide includes more than 200 pages of clear, specific information about how to prepare your Exchange 2000 or Exchange 5.5 organization to migrate to Exchange 2003. Because that topic seems to be on everyone's mind lately, this document's top position is logical. I'm interested to see how this list will change over time, particularly as Microsoft releases new tools and updates for Exchange 2003. In the meantime, take a look at the list and see whether any of the items are of use to you now--after all, sometimes following the crowd can work to your benefit!