Monthly Archives: February 2006

SMS 4 first look

After talking about SMS 2003 for such a long time, it’s going to be a bit strange talking about SMS 4, but I’ve noticed that the SMS homepage allows you to have a look at the SMS 4 beta and download it.  So in addition to downloading SMS 2003 R2, you can also register and download the SMS 4 beta.  You do need to have the following software installed before downloading SMS 4 though – so be aware of this list:

ire the following software:

SMS site systems also require the following software:
Site systems require Internet Information Services (IIS) 6.0 or later if they will perform any of the following site systems roles:
Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS)-enabled distribution point (requires BITS server and Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning [WebDAV] extensions)
Management point (requires BITS server and WebDAV extensions)
State migration point (requires BITS server and WebDAV extensions)
Reporting point (requires Active Server pages)
Server locator point
All SMS distribution point systems using BITS bandwidth throttling require BITS 2.0 or later.
System health validator points require that the Network Policy Server service is enabled.
The SMS site database server requires Microsoft SQL Server 2005 or SQL Server 2000 SP3a or later.
All site systems require Internet Explorer 5.0 or later.
All site servers must be a member of a Windows 2000 or Windows 2003 Active Directory domain.
SMS primary site servers, secondary site servers, and any computers running the SMS Administrator console require Microsoft Management Console (MMC) 3.0, which is available at Microsoft Management Console 3.0 Pre-Release (RC1 Refresh).
All computers running the SMS Administrator console require the .NET Framework 2.0

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Exchange 12 preview webcasts

Harold (he of the cheesy grin) has noticed that we’re delivering a set of Exchange 12 webcasts in March. 

1. An Overview of Exchange “12” (Level 200) – Tuesday, March 14, 2006
2. Giving the Administrator More Control in Exchange “12” (Level 200) – Wednesday, March 15, 2006
3. Client Access and Web Services in Exchange “12” (Level 200) – Thursday, March 16, 2006
4. Message Security and Active Protection in Exchange “12” (Level 200) – Friday, March 17, 2006

But if you’re an auditory type of learner, or are charging around trying to do your day job and don’ty have time to sit down and watch anything.  Why don’t you try out a podcast?  The scrpit centre has released some audio only podcasts for you to listen to on your way to work

RTC Experts – Come and talk to us…

I’m over in Washington state again for a meeting of our evangelist managers, so I thought I’d extend my trip by a day and catch up with my virtual team of evangelists and talk to a couple of people in the product team.  I’ve just had a meeting with Kevin who specialises in RTC and runs our community initiatives.  We were talking about blogging, LCS, community and the RTC groups worldwide that we both knew.

Well I know that there aren’t too many people blogging about LCS, or RTC technologies in general.  Tom, Graham  and Kintan all work for Microsoft, and I notice the occasional post on Technorati about LCS 2005

So who am I missing?  There must be many really keen RTC users out there who want to form a community (Arthur is moving towards creating the RTC user group in the UK at the moment).  So make yourselves known.  Either add a comment, or ping me an email, let me know about the great work that you’re doing in the Real Time Communicatrions world, and we’ll try to get you talking to each other in a Virtual community (or really talking to each other using the next generation of RTC, using voice and all of that other cool stuff thats out there….. 

Unified messaging solutions

Blake has been collating lots of things on Exchange 12 recently and has created a series of resource pages if you’re interestd in tracking the technology

Exchange Server Resources

Live Communications Server 2005 resources

Live meeting resources

and the interesting one – Text to Speech software… so cool…

Thanks Blake – something else for my del.icio.us tags then.

Microsoft Office – what it’s really going to be called

I’ve seen a couple of press releases about Office 12.  Its got several opinions about what we’re calling it.  Here’s a couple of examples:

 2007 Microsoft Office suite contains several product names: Microsoft Office Word 2007, and Microsoft Office Excel 2007.  We’re calling it “the 2007 release”  It’s going to take me a while not to call it Office 12 now, I’ve got used to the beta name, and I’m sure I’ll get the “2007” bit in the wrong order… However, wherever I put the 2007 in the sentence, I’m really pleased that we’ll be inlcuding Office Sharepoint Designer 2007 and Office Groove 2007 (at last!)

If you’re interested in following the buzz on Office 12 (Oops. 2007 Office Suite) subscribe to Darrens blog.  He’s the program manger for Office in the UK

Office Groove 2007 – sounds like a new funky dance eh?  It’s a funky product too and well worth playing with…

SMS R2 Beta

So we’ve announced the release of the SMS R2 beta with a 30% discount if you buy the licence before April 1st this year. Check out the press announcement from the web.  There are 2 major features for this release, the Inventory tool and the scan tool.  Here’s a description of what they do:

Inventory Tool for Custom Updates– The inventory tool was designed to offer third-party vendors and customers with line-of-business (LOB) applications the same patch-management and update capabilities of SMS 2003, from one centralized console. Microsoft will offer the tool for authoring a software update catalog to ISVs at no charge, so they can provide updates for their applications to their customers in a format that can be directly imported into SMS for evaluation and distribution.
Scan Tool for Vulnerability Assessment – This tool helps enable IT administrators to scan their entire internal network to find the most common configuration settings that could increases vulnerability or setting that does not comply with internal security and configuration policies of an organization. Some typical settings that is scanned include for example: evaluation of password strength and frequency of change; whether firewalls are disabled or not; or whether guest accounts are enabled.  Settings out of compliance with the corporate policy are reported to the SMS administration, and the system administrator can then remediate the system in question using the regular tools and processes.

We’ve also announced SP2 for SMS (79mb) along with an Account Review tool which allows you to assess the security risk in your SMS environments and returns a report alerting you to any non compliant accounts in your organisation.  Both of these are well worth downloading and implementing in your organisation…

Switching to Exchange native mode

Jan mailed me:  she had her finger on the button, about to make the switch from mixed mode to native mode, and wanted a sanity check before actually hitting the option button.  AD was also running in mixed mode.  So what to switch first?  Exchange or AD?  They had already decomissioned the 5.5 boxes so there was no problem with not being able to comunicate with them if things go wrong once the switch was made to native. Her concern was that they may not be aware of any potential problems  once they made the change, with regard to the fact that AD is still running in mixed mode. So should she go AD native first? or isn’t it relevant?

Well there is a nice checklist here to help you decide whether you’re ready to make the switch to Exchange native mode in the first place.  And if you’re running Windows 2003 server throughout on your Domain Controllers, then you can raise the domain functional level to Winbdows Server 2003, and then switch to native mode.  (see Rodneys article here for more information).  So I’d do AD first, then Exchange…

ALso check out this list of guides to get you over any common mistakes that may occur… If you’ve checked everythihg out well, then you’ll have no problems with it…