First, here's an update to last week's UPDATE: Sten Schmidt from Symprex wrote to tell me about Symprex Folder Permissions Manager (http://www.symprex.com/products/fpm), a competitor to MRH Technology Group's Exchange Permissions Manager. He was kind enough to offer me a trial copy, which I haven't yet had time to download or use. In a future column, I'll face off the two tools and see which one works better for my typical administrative tasks.

Now, on to the meat of this week's column, which is really sort of a metacolumn that has nothing to do with Exchange.

I love getting mail from readers, even when readers chastise me (such as the guy who wrote to tell me my work/life balance was out of whack) or point out my mistakes (too many examples to list!). However, lately I've been getting a lot of mail on one subject, and I figured this would be a good time to address it.

The Exchange & Outlook UPDATE newsletter recently changed to a system that sends an excerpt of this column in the email newsletter, with a link to click to get the full version online. You have to be a registered user of the Windows IT Pro Network Web site (but not necessarily a paying subscriber to the magazine) to access the full version. The newsletter, including this column, remains a free resource from the publishers of Windows IT Pro.

This change has generated a steady volume of reader mail. I've been passing your feedback on to my editors, not because I love hassling them but because I think the readers have some legitimate concerns about the new format:

  • If you're used to reading the UPDATE on a mobile email device, having only the first couple of paragraphs plus a link makes it much harder to read the entire thing.
  • People who read their email through kiosks or shared computers don't always have their Windows IT Pro logon credentials at hand.
  • The link makes it look like only paying subscribers can read the UPDATE.

I feel your pain; I, too, prefer newsletters and other email information sources that contain the full text of articles. And I'm saddened by getting messages that say, basically, "Long-time subscriber, love your stuff, hate the new format, unsubscribing."

It may come as some comfort to know that there's a reason for the change. The editors of Windows IT Pro produce free email newsletters with commentaries from experts because they realize the value of timely information and expert insight. But to keep producing the newsletters and keep them free, they are asking readers to answer a few demographic questions. That's why they instituted the Web registration requirement. With a few simple demographics, they can better meet readers' needs with targeted, timely information.

Windows IT Pro is essentially asking you to register for their Web site in exchange for free access to the full UPDATE content. I admit to being biased, but I think that's a fair trade. I am personally committed to continuing to make this UPDATE the best, most timely source of useful, in-depth information about Exchange Server (outside of Microsoft's own Exchange blog, anyway). In that spirit, I'd like to ask each of you for a favor.

Please take a minute or two to send an email message to update@robichaux.net, the address I use for this column's correspondence. In your message, answer any of the following questions:

  • What one thing would you like to ask Microsoft about their Exchange product line or strategy?
  • If there's one thing you'd like to see more of in the UPDATE, what is it?
  • If there's something you'd like to see less of, what is it?
  • How can I, and the UPDATE editors, make this UPDATE so valuable and worthwhile that you'll tolerate having to click a link to get the full text?

The Exchange world is continuing to grow and change rapidly, and there's a lot happening in 2007 that I want to write about, so I welcome your guidance and advice on what you'd like to see. Happy New Year!