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:
Exchange 2010 support extended
In a recent blog post, the Exchange Team announced that is was extending support for Exchange 2010 by nine months. Exchange 2010 now shares the same end-of-life date as Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010, which is October 13th, 2020.
While this extension allows for a little more breathing room, it does not extend support for Windows Server 2008 R2, which is the underlying operating system for many Exchange 2010 installations. Server 2008 R2 will still go end of life on January 14th, 2020.
The Exchange Team has provided this extension to allow companies more time to migrate to a newer email platform, such as Office 365, or, Exchange 2016.
Unfortunately, there is no direct path to Exchange 2019 from 2010. If you do plan to stay on-prem, you will need to migrate to either 2013 or 2016 (I’d recommend 2016 as 2013 is now in extended support). From there you can migrate to 2019.
For more information on migrating from Exchange 2010 to 2016, check out this recent blog article from the Exchange Team: Exchange On-Premises Best Practices for Migrations from 2010 to 2016
So, what’s new in these Cumulative Updates?
In this series of cumulative updates, Microsoft has resolved a number of security and non-security issues. You can read more about those in KBs 4514141 and 4514140. In addition, this set of cumulative updates addresses changes to daylight savings.
If you are current on your Exchange updates, then these cumulative updates will not extend the schema. If you are running Exchange 2013 CU6 or earlier, Exchange 2016 CU6 or earlier, or, Exchange 2019 CU1 or earlier, you will need to perform a schema update.
While these updates do not contain any changes to the schema, you may need to run SETUP /PrepareAD to apply security changes that were introduced in the February and June 2019 updates. If you ran /PrepareAD after installing the June updates, then you do not need to run /PrepareAD again.
If you are running multiple versions of Exchange in coexistence, run SETUP /PrepareAD from the newest version of Exchange. For example, if you have Exchange 2013 and Exchange 2019, run SETUP /PrepareAD from Exchange 2019 CU2.
Note: If you are running in a multi-domain environment, you will need to perform SETUP /PrepareDomain in each domain. You do not need to run /PrepareDomain in the domain where you performed /PrepareAD. /PrepareAD also invokes the /PrepareDomain process.
More Awesome News
Basic Auth on the Office 365 chopping block
Microsoft previously announced that it was blocking basic authentication for Exchange Web Services on October 13th, 2020. In a recent blog post, the Exchange Team announced it was extending this block to POP, IMAP, ActiveSync, and Remote PowerShell.
After October 13th, 2020, any application connecting to these services will be required to leverage modern authentication (OAuth 2.0).
For Remote PowerShell, this one is easy. I recommend using the Microsoft Exchange Online PowerShell Module. This module supports both modern-authentication and is a requirement if your admin account has multi-factor authentication enabled (which I hope it does!). I recommend checking out this article for more information on how to use this module. In addition, you may also want to look into the Azure Cloud Shell. Check out the tutorial; Using Exchange Cmdlets in Azure Cloud Shell.
For POP and IMAP, Microsoft will soon be adding OAuth support. This means your POP or IMAP application will need to support OAuth. Microsoft will also be releasing a tool to help you identify active POP and IMAP users in Office 365 and what authentication mechanism they are currently using.
The most significant impact of this announcement will be to ActiveSync. ActiveSync is used by countless native mail apps to access their Office 365 mail. I highly recommend migrating your user base to Outlook mobile (for iOS and Android). Outlook Mobile supports both modern authentication and multi-factor authentication. It is worth noting that some native mail apps, such as those included in iOS 11, have added support for modern authentication. However, pushing users to Outlook Mobile, versus upgrading their phones, is the path of least resistance. Not to mention your helpdesk or IT department will only need to support one universal mail client.
If you are interested in how to block basic authentication on-prem with Exchange 2019, check out this article; Disabling Legacy Authentication in Exchange Server 2019.
More filter options when booking rooms
Microsoft announced more room booking options coming to Exchange Online. Some of these features are already available to those configured for first-release. These new features make it easier to book rooms by:
- Identifying room conflicts for all instances of a recurring meeting
- Allowing you to search for rooms with a specific capacity or feature, such as rooms with projectors, audio/visual equipment, or, wheelchair accessibility.
- Booking multiple rooms when meetings span multiple geographies.
The administrator can configure all these room attributes via the Set-Place cmdlet.
Quicker replication of attributes
Microsoft announced changes coming to Office 365 tenants which will speed up how quickly attributes are synchronized between Exchange Online and Azure AD.
Previously when you made a change in either service, you had to wait on the back-sync process to synchronize the two underlying directories. This meant that changes made in Exchange Online might not be reflected in Azure AD for several minutes, or vice versa.
In the future, when you make a change to a user in either service, it will dual write the attributes to both so you don’t have to wait on the back-sync process to complete.
Hybrid Agent Reaches General Availability
The Hybrid Agent transitioned from public preview to general availability. The Hybrid Agent did receive an update on general release. Microsoft recommends you remove the public preview version and install the latest Hybrid Agent.
The Hybrid Agent allows an organization to perform mailbox moves and free/busy lookups with Office 365 without publishing your on-premises Exchange to the internet.
For more information on the Hybrid Agent, be sure to check out Jeff Kizner’s Ignite session. You can find notes and timers on this session in the article 15 Ignite sessions every Exchange admin should see (it’s the second session on the list). You can also find the Hybrid Agent documentation here.
Older algorithms on the chopping block
Microsoft previously announced that older algorithms used in the transfer of mail to Exchange Online were being deprecated. This included SSL 3.0, TLS 1.0, and TLS 1.1. At the time of writing, Microsoft has since disabled SSL 3.0.
While Microsoft has no deadline to disable TLS 1.0 for mail transfer, they have announced that if an exploit is found, they will quickly disable the protocol. Microsoft states that approximately 5% of all mail to Office 365 still uses TLS 1.0. Microsoft urges its customers to get to TLS 1.2.
To help identify which devices and applications are still using older TLS protocols, you can access the SMTP Auth Clients report in the Mail Flow Dashboard in the Security and Compliance Center.
To identify all other SMTP connections to Office 365, including those made via hybrid mail flow to your on-prem Exchange servers, check out the Messages Protected in Transit (by TLS) report. This is also located in the Mail Flow Dashboard in the Security and Compliance Center.
In February 2020, Unified Messaging in Exchange Online will be retired. This follows the announcement of Unified Messaging being dropped from Exchange 2019 back in October. It also marks the end of Unified Messaging in the Exchange product line.
Customers leveraging Exchange Online Unified Messaging for either Skype for Business 2015 or Lync 2013 will be automatically transitioned to Cloud Voicemail. Microsoft announced this transition would be transparent to end-users, begin in March 2019, and customers will receive transition notifications as early as February. Organizations on Lync 2010 will not be transitioned. Anyone on Lync 2010 will need to migrate to Skype for Business to use Cloud Voicemail.
Customers leveraging Exchange Online Auto-Attendant will need to manually transition attendants and phone numbers to Cloud Auto-Attendant before February 2020.
The main benefit of this change is that it folds all products–Skype for Business on-premises, Skype for Business Online, and Teams–into the same voicemail and phone system. This allows Microsoft to focus all development and support onto a single product.
Need a refresher from Ignite 2018?
With Ignite 2019 only a couple of months away it might be time to brush up on some of the topics covered at the last Ignite. If you need a refresher on all the Exchange features announced at Ignite, I highly recommend checking out the article 15 Ignite sessions every Exchange admin should see (2018 edition). In this article, there are extensive notes on what each session contained. In addition, those notes include timers if you need to jump to a specific topic.
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.