It was a big month for Exchange updates. Not only did we get Cumulative Update 15 for Exchange 2013, but we also got Cumulative Update 4 for Exchange 2016.
As always, test these updates in a lab first! I recommend checking out this 7-part guide on configuring Exchange in your lab. It doesn’t take much to get one going.
The updates are as follows:
A quick word on Exchange 2007
It’s time to update. Exchange 2007 will go end of life on April 11th, 2017. That’s a little over 4 months. If you are counting the days from this blog post that is exactly 100 days before Microsoft drops all support for Exchange 2007. On April 12th you will receive no more patches and no more telephone support.
If the lack of security updates from Microsoft isn’t convincing enough, check this article for a list of cool things Exchange 2013 can do. (P.S. Like the fact Exchange 2013 uses fewer IOPS per mailbox than 2007…say what?)
Windows Server 2016 was breaking Exchange 2016
Cumulative Update 3 for Exchange 2016 officially added support for deployment on Windows Server 2016. Unfortunately, it was quickly realized that a bug existed that would crash the IIS Application Pools after a reboot of a freshly installed DAG member. The Server Team’s official response can be found here.
It is worth noting that Exchange 2016 CU4 will not install on Windows Server 2016 unless this update is present.
So what’s new in these Cumulative Updates?
Exchange 2016 sees some redesign of the Outlook on the Web email composition screen. This brings the on-premises client inline with Exchange Online and Outlook.com. Most notably the formatting controls have moved to the bottom and the body of the message is framed. I have included before and after screenshots below. CU3 on the left and CU4 to the right.
In the last quarterly update, only Exchange 2016 CU3 on Windows Server 2016 had support for .NET Framework 4.6.2. With this round of updates Exchange 2013 and 2016 now fully support .NET 4.6.2 on any supported operating system. It is recommended that customers upgrade to .NET 4.6.2 after applying the December updates as 4.6.2 will be mandated in the March 2017 updates.
The Exchange Team has also changed the prerequisites when installing Exchange 2013 or 2016 on Windows Server 2012 and later. In previous updates checking the box Automatically install Windows Server roles and features would install the Desktop Experience. In the December updates checking this box now only installs the Media Foundation Component. The benefit is fewer components on our Exchange servers. Desktop Experience added quite a lot, including Windows Media Player, Sound Recorder, Snipping Tool and the Windows Store, just to name a few. For a full list of everything the Desktop Experience added check this article. Applying these quarterly updates will not remove the Desktop Experience if currently installed. Big kudos to the Exchange Team for getting this trimmed down.
All supported versions received updates to daylight savings.
The Exchange Team also identified an issue with Public Folder posts not correctly indexing since the last quarterly updates.
Schema Updates Needed
Exchange 2016 Cumulative Update 4 does not include schema updates. If upgrading from Cumulative Update 3 then there are no schema changes. If migrating from CU2 or earlier you will need to perform a schema update.
Exchange 2013 Cumulative Update 15 does not include schema updates. If upgrading from Cumulative Update 7-14 then there are no schema changes. However, if migrating from CU6 or earlier update you will need to perform a schema update.
You can apply these beforehand by running SETUP /PrepareSchema from the command line. The graphical setup will also perform this step if it detects the schema has not been extended.
Running this command beforehand is critical in environments where the Exchange admin does not have rights to extend Active Directory. To extend the schema you must be both a Schema Admin and an Enterprise Admin.
You will also want to run SETUP /PrepareAD to get the latest RBAC definitions for both Exchange 2013 and 2016.
For more information on how to extend and verify the schema check our guide here.
For a quick reference on schema and build versions check here.
Required for hybrid
Microsoft requires that anyone in a hybrid environment be on the latest or prior cumulative update.
So what do you think is coming next? What would you like to see? Drop a comment below or join the conversation on Twitter @SuperTekBoy.