Exchange in a Windows World
A few facts about installing Exchange 2003 under older Windows versions.
- By Bill Boswell
- November 18, 2003
I was under the impression that Exchange 2000 would
run on Windows Server 2003. And I have been told that Exchange 2003 is
not shipping yet. Is this so?
Ken: Exchange 2003 was released to manufacturing in the
summer, but it has taken a while for Microsoft to get the disks into the
channel. You should be able to buy the product from major software dealers
[Read more about Exchange 2003 in a joint MCPmag/ENTmag report
that you can download by clicking
As for trying to figure out which version of Exchange can run on which
version of Windows Server and in which version of Active Directory, it's
about as confusing as trying to follow a Law
and Order whodunit after missing the first scene. Here are
some Yes and No guidelines:
Help from Bill
Got a Windows or Exchange question or need troubleshooting
help? Or maybe you want a better explanation than provided
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Yes to Exchange 2003 in a Windows Server 2003 Domain
You can install an Exchange 2003 server in a Windows Server 2003 Active
Directory domain. The schema and domain updates performed by Exchange
2003 setup are completely compatible with Windows Server 2003 Active Directory.
You do not need any special service packs or hot fixes.
Yes to Exchange 2003 in a Windows 2000 Domain
You can place an Exchange 2003 server in a Windows 2000 Active Directory
domain. The schema and domain updates performed by Exchange 2003 Setup
are completely compatible with Windows 2000 Active Directory.
Yes to Exchange 2003 in a Mixed Forest
You can install an Exchange 2003 server in any domain in a forest regardless
of the Windows Server versions in the other domains. Keep in mind that
Configuration and Schema naming context changes replicate to all domain
controllers in the forest, so every Windows 2000 domain controller in
the forest should have SP3 installed.
Yes to Exchange 2003 on Windows Server 2003
Microsoft recommends this configuration as the most stable and
secure messaging platform.
Yes to Exchange 2003 on Windows Server 2003 Standard
and Enterprise Editions
The only advantage to using the Enterprise Edition of Windows Server
2003 is to get 8-node clustering. Standard edition does not support shared
disk clusters. [Note: The preceding sentence regarding Standard edition
has been corrected from what appeared in the newsletter of 11/18/03. We
apologize for the confusion this error may have caused.—Editor]
You will not get any additional memory headroom in the Enterprise edition
because Exchange 2003 can only use 4GB of RAM. Anything more than that
is wasted. For this reason, it’s pretty much a waste of money to
run Exchange on the Datacenter Edition of Windows Server 2003.
No to Exchange 2000 on Windows 2003 Web Edition
Windows Server 2003 has a Web Edition designed for inexpensive blade servers
running web services. You cannot install Exchange 2003 on Windows Server
2003 Web Edition. Setup will refuse to let you do it.
Yes to Exchange 2003 on Windows 2000 SP3
You can install Exchange 2003 on Windows 2000 as long as you have
Windows 2000 SP3 or newer installed on Windows. Despite what you may read,
don't install Exchange 2003 on Windows 2000 SP2 with a batch of hotfixes.
Microsoft has eliminated Windows 2000 SP2 from their test matrix. Do not
install Exchange 2003 on Windows 2000 SP2 servers or in a domain that
has Windows 2000 SP2 domain controllers because Microsoft may not be able
to help you if something unexpected happens.
No to Exchange 5.5 on Windows Server 2003
As the Wizard of Oz would say, "Not no way. Not no how."
No to Exchange 2000 on Windows Server 2003
You'll hear that you can upgrade a Windows 2000 server running Exchange
2000 to Windows Server 2003 and that it "works great." You can
believe those stories if you like, but do you really want to put your
production Exchange servers into an unsupported configuration?
Hope this helps.
Contributing Editor Bill Boswell, MCSE, is the principal of Bill Boswell Consulting, Inc. He's the author of Inside Windows Server 2003 and Learning Exchange Server 2003 both from Addison Wesley. Bill is also Redmond magazine's "Windows Insider" columnist and a speaker at MCP Magazine's TechMentor Conferences.