Microsoft awards its Most Valuable Professional (MVP) designation to people who are active in the support community for various products. Most Microsoft products, from the huge ones such as Exchange Server and Microsoft Office to the smaller ones such as Microsoft Money, have groups of MVPs. In the MVP world, Exchange MVPs are known as one of the more opinionated groups, so I thought I'd ask some Exchange MVPs a simple question: What changes would you like to see in the next release of Exchange?
As I expected, the responses I received covered a broad spectrum of ideas, from the simple and straightforward to the "no way is that ever gonna happen." For your entertainment, here's a sample of the answers I got to my question:
- "Please dump the Exchange 2007 message tracking GUI. Please make message tracking like it was in Exchange 2003. Every time I have to use the GUI, I want to poke my eyes out." When asked to elaborate, this particular MVP said, "Being able to right-click an account and select something like 'Show messages sent/received by this account for the last X hours/days' would make my day." I received a related suggestion, which is for the message tracking information to show the machine name or IP address of the sending client. I think these suggestions are great; the GUI-based message tracking functionality included in Exchange 2007 is a disappointment, and improvements in this area are sorely needed.
- Several Exchange MVPs requested improvements for public folders, including the ability to restore public folder databases through Recovery Storage Groups (RSGs) and the ability to set quotas on subtrees in addition to individual folders. I continue to be surprised by how many organizations are actively using public folders and want Microsoft to continue investing in this area. However, I'd guess that these changes aren't likely to come in the next Exchange version.
- I received a few OWA-related feature requests—and they were big ones. One MVP asked for a GUI to make it easier to customize OWA; another said, "Make it a priority for the OWA rich client to be a browser-agnostic AJAX experience supporting Firefox, Opera, and Safari as well as Microsoft Internet Explorer; offer a reach client as a fallback for those who don't like or can't use AJAX." Given that the Microsoft Office Communications Server team has done a great job of supporting Firefox, Safari, and IE as peers, with full functionality in all three browsers, I think this feature has a strong chance of making the next Exchange release.
- Several MVPs asked for better auditing and logging capabilities throughout Exchange. I mentioned in my last column a desire to see richer auditing data when, for example, user A accesses data in user B's mailbox ("Improvements We'd Like to See for Exchange Server"). Several MVPs pointed out the fact that the SMTP logs aren't accessible within Exchange Management Console, and that the way the connections are logged makes it hard to track what's happening when there are simultaneous connections.
Will we get any of these features? I consulted my Magic 8-Ball, which said, "Reply hazy, try again." For those of you who aren't 8-Ball–attuned, that translates as: We'll have to wait and see!