It’s well known now that Windows Vista is suffering from backwards-compatibility issues (and to be fair, not necessarily Microsoft’s fault but that of sluggish third-party vendors.) I’ve written about this on mailing lists and other sites and once here.
What’s received a lot less publicity – owing to being less for the general public – is the 64-bit nature of Microsoft Exchange Server 2007.
I’ve started my new role as CIO for an exciting startup company (and, by the way, I chose the ASUS Lamborghini VX2 laptop.) Although there will be a lot of strategy required soon, the immediate task is to get an online presence.
I bought a 64-bit HP server with dual Xeon processors and 4Gb RAM. It’s running Windows Server 2003 standard – 64-bit edition – and Exchange 2007. The Exchange install was a breeze; Microsoft have made an excellent job of reducing its complexity and giving it a very focused administrative interface. I had it running quickly, along with OWA.
After a day of running this, I felt confident enough to move along and install BlackBerry Enterprise Server 4.1.3. Now, everyone who knows me know I am a rabid BlackBerry enthusiast. I’ve been involved in IBBUG (before they just seemed to die out …), I’ve sent well over 10,000 thumb-typed messages and I’ve advocated BlackBerry among the tech and journo communities. However, I really have to vent my rage on RIM for mucking up my server here ……..
Oh, the BES install was flawless – with one minor problem; BES 4.1.3 complained that MAPI was not available. A quick Google gave a download link from Microsoft for the benefit of Exchange 2007 users, as this component no longer ships with the product. That satisfied BES and the install completed.
However ……. my dummy web site no longer worked. Nor did OWA. (And sure, it’s not best practice to run mail and web and BlackBerry all on the one machine, but hey, we’re a startup – and it cost over $36K for this kit as it was!)
At first I wondered if the BES’ new MDS services were at fault, possibly having set itself in place as the machine’s web server. Yet IIS was indeed still running – but the application pools had failed to start for “unspecified easons”. A trawl through the application log revealed a .NET framework mismatch – and oddly enough I then noticed IIS listed .NET framework 1.1 as being available but .NET framework 2.0 had disappeared.
Repairing the .NET framework 2.0 got me further – the dummy web site returned and OWA’s login page showed – but it was still not perfect; clicking login just gave an error page. IIS no longer listed any problems with the application pools – but it did list the .NET framework 2.0 as being in 32-bit mode. That got me thinking, given Exchange 2007 is a 64-bit system.
To cut to the chase – the BES wouldn’t run without .NET framework v1.1 installed; it gave C++ run-time errors when removed. Yet, with it, IIS was slashed down to operating in 32-bit mode – and this was no good for OWA.
The end result? .NET 1.1 is gone, .NET 2.0 was repaired again, and IIS returned to 64-bit mode. So, I have OWA back but no BES. I considered trying out the two BES 4.1.3 hotfixes out but it was getting late. My thinking now is to leave as is, and set up POP for the benefit of the BlackBerry handhelds at this time. After all, we’re a startup: we have a sum total of two handhelds at the moment (the spiffing 8800 model.) I’ll return to the BES with a dedicated machine once our usage is heavier.
So, Vista is not the only modern Microsoft environment with compatibility problems. I can do one better and bring the two together: previously Exchange shipped with management tools for use on desktop operating systems. The Exchange 2007 DVD did not. The explanation I got was because it’s a 64-bit system and most client PCs are 32-bit, although that was fairly lame. In fact, I found a link on Microsoft’s web site where the 32-bit management tools for Exchange 2007 can be downloaded so they definitely exist but just didn’t get included on the DVD.
It’s all moot though: one of the first steps in the installation prompts for Microsoft’s new PowerShell to be installed. 32- and 64-bit versions exist but here’s the rub: they’re only for Windows XP or Windows Server 2003. There’s no Vista release. Trying to install the 32-bit XP version just fails. So, ultimately, Vista and Exchange 2007 have such compatibility problems that they don’t even cohabit.