Exchange SP2 public beta – the CTP

Even though Harold blogged about this last week, and the Exchange team have covered all you need to get onto this beta of Exchange SP2, Here’s the link to the download and also have a look at the release notes

Key bits that I’ve pulled out of the release notes (as I get lots of questions on these)

Increase in Database Size for Standard Edition
For the Exchange Server 2003 Standard Edition, the hard-coded licensing database size limit has been increased from 16 GB to 75 GB. The administrator will be able to set a protective database size limit (prevent unintentional database size growth). The default value will be 18 GB in SP2 for Standard Edition and the default of 18 GB can be overwritten by editing the “Database Size Limit in GB” registry key.
The database size calculation will be that of the logical database size — empty space is not counted. Limit checks will be performed regularly and controlled by the store process, not by Jet. Intervals for checking will be defined in the local registry and defaults can be overwritten by editing the registry. If there are no registry settings, the default time of 24 hours is used.
There will be an early warning threshold so that warnings will arrive at set intervals. Additionally, there will be better feedback to administrators when the database size limit is reached. Administrators will be able to manually mount databases in Exchange System Manager (ESM).

Improvements in Offline Address Book Performance (and see the Exchange blog for a great post on this and on the OAB v4 itself)
The offline address book (OAB 4.0) has been improved for performance.
Note   You must have Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 Service Pack 2 (SP2) installed to realize this enhanced performance.
In cached mode, with the improvements, there will be fewer situations that could result in a company-wide, full OAB download.
Specific features of OAB 4.0 include the following:
Significantly reduce the size of the OAB.
Differential OAB update files use a generic, binary compression technology (BinPatch).
You now can have customizable properties and indexes.
OAB indexing will be based on the locale setting (language and country) of the client. This enables users on the same server (with different local settings) to correctly view the OAB, sorted based on their locale setting and not the servers.

Mobility Enhancements
There are some important mobility enhancements for both the mobile device user, and the mobility administrator.
Important   To use the mobility features, you need a mobile device with Windows Mobile™ 5.0 installed. For most of the other features to work, the Messaging and Security Feature Pack for Windows Mobile 5.0 must be installed also.
Direct push is a new Exchange technology that maintains an open connection between the mobile device and the server. When new items arrive, they are automatically “pushed down” to the device.
Remote wipe is a new feature that enables administrators to erase sensitive data from a lost or stolen mobile device. The administrator receives an acknowledgement that the device has been wiped after the task has been completed.
Global address list (GAL) lookup enables users to receive contact information for users in the global address list from a mobile device. This feature helps users search for a person quickly, based on name, company, and so on.
Policy provisioning allows administrators to make supported policies, such as device passwords, more secure by enforcing them in one of two modes:
Allowing only devices that have policies to synchronize (Windows Mobile 5.0 and Microsoft Feature Pack)
Allowing all devices, including older devices, to synchronize
Support for certificate-based authentication
Use of S/MIME to sign and encrypt mail

Watch out for the caveat though:

Exchange Server 2003 SP2 CTP is unsupported pre-release software distributed for feedback and testing purposes only, and is not supported by Customer Services and Support (CSS). 

Apart from that – enjoy playing 🙂