As we enter 2014, I’m sure that you are all looking back on 2013 and wondering how the year went by so quickly. For many, it was time to begin the process of finally bringing Exchange 2013 into production after Microsoft released the necessary updates for Exchange 2007, Exchange 2010, and a set of cumulative updates, the latest of which (Exchange 2013 CU3) seems to be pretty stable and dependable.
But software expires. Well, the actual bits and bytes don't degrade and fall apart, but its support expires, which then creates heartburn for system administrators. Very soon in 2014 the support status of a number of products will change with lots of changes coming in three short months when the change happens for the following products on April 8:
- Outlook 2003 extended support expires
- Exchange Server 2003 extended support expires
- Exchange 2010 SP2 transitions into extended support
Outlook 2003 is still much loved within the Exchange community. It was the first version to support cached Exchange mode and the improvements made in more recent releases never quite convinced many people to upgrade. Microsoft was forced to upgrade Exchange 2010 to support Outlook 2003 but the client cannot be used with either Exchange 2013 or Exchange Online. Like IE8 running on Windows XP, some of the technical changes in both the latest versions of Exchange mean that Outlook 2003 simply cannot cope with the current servers. Its time is past and upgrades just have to happen.
The same is true for Exchange 2003, which cannot exist inside an organization that runs Exchange 2013. And there’s no way to transfer mailboxes from Exchange 2003 servers to Exchange 2013. All of which means that you have to choose what to do to replace these by now antiquated systems. I think some customers will conclude that the effort involved in going first to Exchange 2010 and then to Exchange 2013 requires too much work (and too expensive) and that it is simpler to make a one-off transition to Office 365. Of course, moving to a cloud service is not easy nor inexpensive, but it’s probably the best long-term option for companies who simply want an email service.
Thinking caps have to be donned if you still run software that will soon go out of support, unless of course you are happy to run unsupported - which some people do! All in all, there’s lots of work to be done in 2014. And there’s the prospect of an interesting Exchange conference to look forward to, starting on March 31 in Austin, TX. All in all, a lot to anticipate. Happy New Year!
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