Understanding the bug fix for OAB downloads in Exchange 2010 SP2 RU1

The fact that Microsoft is adding “British English” to the list of languages supported by Windows 8 will, no doubt, come as a blessed relief to the hordes of users who have fretted away their days wondering when the folks in Redmond will wake up to acknowledge that there is an English-speaking part of the world that isn’t dominated by the letter "z". I do have some doubts that British English will be as welcome as Microsoft imagines in the Republic of Ireland, but that’s quite another story. After all, we’ve had the chance to install Irish as a Windows language since Windows XP!

Booting up your Windows 8 PC and selecting British English might, on the other hand, help readers of the Exchange development group’s EHLO blog understand some of the text generated by the esteemed Greg Taylor in his recent “It takes a long time” post where Greg slipped in some interesting phrases as he explained the deep and dark mysteries involved in downloading the Offline Address Book (OAB). Greg is a well-known and very good speaker at conferences, where, amongst other techniques, he has been known to explain the protocol handling capabilities of the Client Access Server using the rear end of an elephant. I know this creates a staggering picture in your brain so let’s go on to the business in hand. It’s all to do with a bug fix that Microsoft included in Exchange 2010 SP2 RU1. To help you understand what Greg really means, here’s the guide to some of the more esoteric phraseology that doesn’t usually appear in Microsoft knowledge base articles.

  • The specific fix is one cunningly referred to as 2556113: I fear that the reference to “cunningly” will escape those who are not acquainted with the great “Blackadder” TV series and the awful plans hatched by the hapless Baldrick, Watch an episode and you’ll understand what Greg means. Or maybe not.
  • You need to first understand that TechNet is never wrong  … TechNet doesn’t usually lie. Well, not much: Classic insults in a fashion much beloved by British writers when they attempt to convey their support for a much-beloved institution, a status that I suspect TechNet has achieved.
  • Again, it’s hard, tricky to implement and support and just plain ugly if you’re asking: Refreshing honesty from a software developer that’s intended to lure you into a false sense of security before they tell you the real truth.
  • Something else. I picked this one, as the others seemed really hard: The real truth.
  • When an Outlook client starts up he heads off to the triangle, sometimes and otherwise known as ‘AD’: Note the careful representation of Outlook as “he” whereas all good copy editors would immediately strike this obviously sexist assault on Microsoft’s premier messaging client, which is of course, neutered. “Off up the triangle” is a cast-back to “going to the pub”, a much loved habit in the British Isles and an attempt to make the reference to Active Directory (AD) more approachable. (Note to self: is a directory ever approachable?)
  • I hope you find this useful, and may your WAN forever be a long fat pipe: Parts of the UK (and Ireland) specialize in sending strangers on their way with an obscure aphorism. For example, one heard in Ireland is “may the road rise to meet you…” The reference to a long fat pipe is probably better in an IT context…

Seriously though, you should by now understand that it’s great fun when someone departs from the often dry style beloved of technical writers around the world. It shows a sense of wit, of style, and someone that is willing to get the point across in a way that both makes sense (when you think about it) and is memorable. 

I am not looking for Microsoft to transform TechNet to use Greg’s style everywhere because I am still recovering from its most recent Metro-style makeover. However, I am applaud the communications skills of someone who has toiled mightily to reveal the inner workings of the Client Access Server, AutoDiscover, and other dim corners of the Exchange product in which few care to describe themselves as being an expert.So crack on Greg, let’s have more cunning plans, and please do see whether you can work Spotted Dick into your next epistle. It’s a challenge, I know, but I’m sure that you’re up for it.

And by the way, thanks for fixing the bug too. I'm sure the folks who are stuck at the end of the shared piece of string appreciate it too.

Follow Tony Redmond on Twitter 

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