Random Musings on SBS - patches, SPs and the like

So even now I'm not sure what else to post up here - SBS 2003 is established pretty well in the market, and the newsgroups seem to be answering a lot of people's questions. So I'll kind of ramble on here and see if anything else I say picks up any interest.

First, if you are an SBS 2003 customer, you should really pick up and install our latest patch for the POP3 connector (https://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=7b1ff109-092e-4418-aa37-a53af7b8f6fc&DisplayLang=en). To answer the question I've gotten a few times - yes, you can interpret “unexpected outbound messages” as a potential relay issue, but the opportunity is very small. FYI - this patch is now also listed on our SBS downloads webpage, which I also highly recommend as it's the complete list of recommended patches for SBS: https://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/sbs/downloads/default.mspx

Next question I get a lot - is it OK to install Exchange SP1 on SBS? Absolutely. You can and should install any server component SP on SBS. We fully test all of these SPs on SBS before they are released. The same goes for ISA 2000 SP2.

We do know of an issue with Exchange 2003 SP1 where after you install, the OWA page no longer defaults the domain name for you, forcing users to login as DOMAIN\user instead of just user. We're working on correcting this and as soon as I know when something will be available to correct that behavior, I'll let you know.

Speaking of Exchange SP1, I have seen a couple of newsgroup posts about store.exe suddently taking up more memory after SP1 is applied. I haven't seen any details on that behavior, so if anyone has any details I'd love to hear more about it.

And while we're talking about SPs, everybody wants to know about SBS SP1. Bob kind of jumped the gun on us when he annouced SBS SP1 and ISA 2004 (https://www.storagepipeline.com/howto/20300856). So everybody wants to know: When can I get ISA 2004, and when can I get SP1, and should I wait to install Exchange SP1 until SBS SP1, and blah blah blah (I'm a bit tired and cranky...)

So as Bob mentioned in the article, we're waiting for Windows Server 2003 SP1 before we can ship SBS SP1. When will that be? All I can tell you there is what's already known, so I won't bother to repeat it. :-) But hopefully that will help set some expectations.

As to whether you should wait to install the other SPs until SBS SP1 releases, I would not recommend so. Each of our server component SPs will contain critical and important fixes that you should apply to your server to keep it running smoothly and address issues found since those products released. Since SBS SP1 will be at the tail end of that process, you're really only hurting your customers by not installing those SPs as they come out. One of our main goals around SP1 is to address new customers by updating our CDs to have the updated SPs pre-installed, so you don't have to install all of them, but if you've already installed SBS 2003, you may as well go ahead and install them.

Which brings us to ISA 2004. Because of the integration we do with ISA, we need to wait to finish our SBS SP before we can provide ISA 2004 to our existing customers. So, you'll have to wait to pick up ISA 2004. I wouldn't recommend trying to get it seperately before then. 1.) None of the SBS wizards or tools will work correctly with ISA 2004 as they totally changed their object model between 2000 and 2004. 2.) You don't have a license to ISA 2004 until SP1 releases, so you'll end up having to purchase it seperately. What sense does that make? ISA 2000 is a fine firewall product, it should last fine until we can get SP1 out the door.

So I think I've covered about everything that's going on in the near future. Here are a few more random thinkings:

There is a service under development that can notify people when updates for particular products are posted to the Microsoft Download Center. Right now it's in a very very early state, but I'm trying it out for Exchange and SBS, and it notified me the next day of Exchange SP1 and the POP3 connector hotfix, so it's pretty cool. I don't know if/when it may/will be available for a broader sign-up (and to this day I don't know how Susan seems to find out about these faster than humanly possible), but if it does happen I'll let people know so you can try it out.

One of the fun aspects of my job is that I get to release SBS QFEs. I'm constantly amazed at the details required to ship things around the world. Our early SBS QFEs were delayed in releasing for some of our localized languages, but I've got it worked out now where we can pretty much release all 18 simultaneously, including the translated text on the download center. (Personally, I think this is really cool, it's all an XML file that gets translated with a language code, so when I import it the site automatically matches the language text with the correct language of the download.) This more than anything points out to me the value of XML, but then again maybe I'm just easily impressed.

BTW, I'll give a shout out to anyone who can list all 18 languages that SBS 2003 ships in (and that doesn't work for MSFT).

OK, I think I'm done. G'night all.

Oh, I forgot one other SP mention - XP SP2. Yes, we are working on an update for SBS 2003 that will update the group policy that disables ICF on clients in an SBS domain so that it can be configured. We're also trying to figure out a default config that makes the most sense. This update will be available by the time XP SP2 ships. Thanks.