On April 15, Microsoft released a public beta of Exchange Server 2010, formerly code-named Exchange 14. I've had the opportunity to spend a lot of time working with the new version of Exchange since before the public beta, and I thought I'd share a few tips and tricks that might be useful to you.

First of all, don't even think of installing the beta in production. It's not supported or licensed for production use, and there's no guarantee that you'll be able to upgrade from this beta to later betas (if any) or to the release version. Nino Bilic on the Exchange team blog also has something to say about this point.

Second, keep in mind the prerequisites you'll need to download and install before you install the Exchange 2010 beta. I had hoped that Exchange 2010 would automate installation (or at least downloading) of the prerequisite updates it requires, but it doesn't. Microsoft's Scott Schnoll posted a step-by-step installation guide on his blog that you can use as a guide. There are two sets of prerequisites: Windows features that you must have installed, such as the Windows RPC over HTTP proxy server for the Client Access server role; and patches or updates to existing features, including Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 and the latest version of the Windows Remote Management (WinRM) management service.

Third: Exchange 2010 requires PowerShell 2.0, which supports remote management. When you use the Exchange Management Shell link on the Windows Start menu, you're actually getting a remote PowerShell session on the same machine. In some cases, remote PowerShell sessions don't start properly. If that happens, look in the Start menu again and you'll see an Exchange Management Shell (Local PowerShell) link. Use it instead, and you'll be in good shape.

Finally, remember that there are some features that Microsoft has shown or talked about that aren't included in the public beta build. It's not always obvious what these features are, and it's easy to mistake a missing feature for one that isn't working right. The public beta build doesn't support integration with Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2, for instance. MailTips are implemented on the server side, but on the client you need either Microsoft Office Outlook 2010—which isn't available yet, even in beta—or a newer build of OWA 2010 than the one included in the Exchange 2010 beta. If you're not using one of those two clients, you won't see MailTips displayed even if you've defined them on the server.

There's a lot more to say about the beta, and I'll be continuing to cover it in future columns. If you have questions you'd like to see answered, drop me a line at probichaux@windowsitpro.com.