Exchange 2007's Compatibility with Exchange 2003 (and 2000)
The greater the number of combinations of Microsoft Exchange and Windows
server, the greater the scope for incompatibilities. Thus each succeeding
release of Exchange server produces more scope for confusion.
This page seeks to clarify these two points:
1) Which Windows operating systems support Exchange 2007 server.
2) Which other versions of Exchange server can co-exist with Exchange 2007.
In a Nutshell To make your Exchange 2007 server compatible with your existing
Exchange Organization, avoid anything with '2000' in its name.
For instance, raise an
Exchange 2000 organization to Exchange 2003 native. The
nearer to the ideal of Exchange 2007 server on Windows Server 2008 in an
Exchange 2007 Organization, the
fewer compatibility problems you will encounter.
A Practical Tip
Get the EXBPA (Exchange Best Practice
Analyser) and seek out the 'Exchange 2007 Readiness Check'. Don't wait
until you have installed Exchange 2007, run the Readiness check from XP, or
Vista and point the wizard to the server where you are thinking of
installing Exchange 2007. EXBPA
will help you identify and correct any Exchange compatibility problems.
Think Like a Military General
On this current page I want to draw your attention to the top level bullet
points. Here you are planning like an army general. On other
pages I cover putting your Exchange Organization plan into action by
advising on Exchange 2007 server
installation and configuration.
64-bit Hardware The first practical point is that Exchange 2007 server must be
installed on a 64-bit operating system. Talking of hardware, make
sure that your proposed server features in the Windows Server Catalog (Hardware Compatibility List).
Windows Server 2003 SP2 (or later)
The second point is that Exchange 2007 server can run on two types of
operating system, Windows Server 2003 with SP2, or Windows Server 2008 if
you have Exchange 2007 SP1 (or later).
Exchange 2007 server cannot be installed on Windows Server 2000 even if
it has SP3.
Install Exchange 2007 on a Windows server that is a member of the domain. Bad
things happen if you install Exchange 2007 on a domain controller. One
exception is the Edge Transport Role,
install the Edge on stand-alone server outside of
your Active Directory domain.
It is possible to install the Exchange Management tools on XP or Vista.
Clean Install of Exchange 2007 Server You will need a fresh, clean install of Exchange 2007 server.
Attempts to upgrade from Exchange 2003 are doomed to failure. The
'swing' technique works well to move mailboxes from an Exchange 2003 server
to the newly installed Exchange 2007 server. You can then re-build the
original Exchange 2003 as Exchange 2007.
There is good news with 'Editions', there are no compatibility problems
between Exchange and Windows Server. As far as I can see, when it comes
to Windows Server operating system and Exchange editions, any combination of Enterprise or
Standard editions works. For example, Windows Server 2008 enterprise
with Exchange 2007 server standard edition. When it comes to deciding
editions, don't just think short-term, 'The standard edition will save us
money', but also take the long view, 'Do we need clustering?' If so we
are going to need the enterprise edition.
No virtualization As of June 2008, there is still no option to install Exchange 2007
on a virtual server. I repeat myself, because every time I read, 'No virtualization for Exchange 2007', I have to rub my eyes and wonder
if I have made a mistake. But, no, Microsoft do not yet support
virtualization for Exchange 2007, so don't even think about trying a
work-around for a production server. Then I remember, the underlying
reason is that Microsoft don't yet support any 64-bit guest operating
systems for their Virtual PCs.
The SolarWinds Exchange Monitor
Here is a
free tool to monitor your Exchange Server. Download and
install the utility, then inspect your mail queues, monitor the Exchange
server's memory, confirm there is enough disk space and check the CPU
This is the real deal - there is no catch. SolarWinds provides this
fully-functioning freebie, as part of their commitment to supporting
the network management community.
The key to installing an Exchange 2007 server amongst older Exchange versions is to
raise the Exchange Organization level. You must raise the Exchange
2003 Organization to
native mode. Now you can achieve coexistence of these three server
versions: Exchange 2007, 2003 and 2000. Note Exchange 5.5 servers are
not allowed in an Exchange 2003 native organization, this is when Exchange
2007 and Exchange 5.5. cannot coexist.
Decommission Legacy Features
As ever, coexistence is never easy. You cannot take advantage of all
the new features of Exchange 2007 without sacrificing some of the legacy
features on the Exchange 2003 servers. For example: you must decommission the
Replication Service and the Exchange Active Directory connectors.
Exchange 2000 Lurking
If you must deploy Windows Server 2008 directory servers in a site that
contain Exchange 2000, you must first hard code Directory Service Access (DSAccess).
To achieve Exchange compatibility you must configure each Exchange 2000 server in the site to point to
directory servers running Windows Server 2003 or Windows 2000 Server.
At one time Microsoft were obsessed with backwards compatibility, for
instance, Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000 and NT 4.0 could all operate in
the same domain. So what's the problem with Exchange compatibility? The answer
lies in the schema, and the heart of the problem is that Exchange 2000 is
incompatible with the Active Directory schema of Windows Server 2003 and
The problem first surfaced with Exchange 2000 mixing with Exchange 2003
and the 'work around' was to install Exchange 2000 on a Windows 2000 member server, in a Windows
Server 2003 domain.
The second problem is that while Exchange 5.5 servers can operate in Windows
domains, Windows Server 2003 domains are not compatible with Exchange 5.5.. Some
Microsoft bashers say that this lack of backwards compatibility is laziness,
others say that ditching backwards compatibility allows progress. What
ever the reasons and the history, Exchange Server 2007 cannot co-exist with
Exchange 5.5, and there are severe limitations if you must persevere with
that 8 year old technology that is Exchange 2000.
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Where possible I like to keep everything in sync, thus gain maximum Exchange
2007 compatibility. Here are my recommendations.
Exchange Organization = Exchange 2007: Operating system = Windows Server 2008
with Exchange 2007 Server. On the client side, Outlook 2007.
Exchange Organization = Exchange 2003 native: Operating system(s) = Windows Server 2008
or 2003 with a mixture of Exchange 2007 and 2003 Server. On the client
side, Outlook 2007 or 2003.
You probably can get many other combinations to work. But the
further you get from the ideal, the more new features you have to sacrifice.
In the end someone should ask the question, 'Is it worth bodging this
transition?' And: 'Would we be better to wait until we have the
resources to do the job properly?'
Most people spell it compatibility, but for those who prefer
compatAbility, here is a page
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Here is a
free tool to monitor your Exchange Server.
Download the utility, then inspect your mail queues, monitor Exchange server's
memory, confirm there is enough disk space and check the CPU utilization.