Last week, I wrote about the newly released Microsoft Exchange Server Best Practices Analyzer tool, aka ExBPA. Judging from the discussions I've seen, Microsoft has a solid hit on their hands. ExBPA is already being used and discussed by administrators of all types of sites. At the same time it released ExBPA, the Microsoft Exchange team turned out several other new tools, as well as updates to existing tools. The entire toolset is known as Web Release 1.1. (Microsoft used to release occasional, individual updates or new tools through Microsoft Product Support Services--PSS--or in conjunction with a white paper or case study. Now, we get coordinated releases of several tools at once, on a fairly predictable schedule. I prefer getting the tools in batches, and I really like the expanded variety of tools in Web Release 1.1.) “New tools?” you say eagerly. Yes, it’s true. Visit the "Downloads for Exchange Server 2003" Web site (http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/downloads/2003.asp); in addition to ExBPA, you'll find the following tools:

- Jetstress 2004, a new version of the Jetstress tool, which you can use to test the performance of your storage subsystem under simulated Exchange loads. If you’ve ever wondered how many I/O operations per second your disk system is really capable of, Jetstress will tell you.

- MSSearch Administration, a tool that gives you a command-line interface for viewing and changing the full-text indexing status of Exchange mailbox stores in your organization. If you’ve ever wanted to write a script to start or stop indexing, to repopulate an index, or even to find out which servers have full-text indexing enabled, this is the tool for you.

- SMTPDiag, a simple but useful command-line tool for checking SMTP mail flow. SMTPDiag uses the same APIs that Exchange uses, so the tool can help isolate problems involving event sink registrations or misconfigurations of Exchange SMTP extensions.

In addition to these new tools, you'll find updates or enhancements:

- The AutoAccept Agent lets users create their own custom response messages for resources.

- The Exchange Stress and Performance (ESP) and Load Simulator (LoadSim) tools have bug fixes, and LoadSim now has a documented and supported command-line interface.

- The Badmail Deletion and Archiving Tool (which I somehow missed in the previous Web Release) has new documentation, as do several other tools, including ExProfRe and the venerable Inter-Organization Replication tool.

Web Release 1.1 gives you additional raw materials to work with, particularly if you’re trying to automate your routine administrative tasks by writing scripts. Drop me a line and let me know whether you’ve used these tools and what you think of them.