Among our Exchange 2010 upgrade projects, we encounter a few more clients still using Exchange 2003 than we do on Exchange 2007. We also see a lot of the 2003 clients struggle following a 2010 upgrade.

The differences between Exchange 2003 and 2010 are more severe than those between 2007 and 2010. Clients jumping from Exchange 2003 are faced with differences in administration, potential for backwards-compatibility issues, etc. For 2003 admins, it's like getting out of an SUV and getting into a racecar – some adjustment is needed!

Last week I came across this TechRepublic article. It lists 10 reference points for those moving up from 2003 to Exchange 2010:
10 Things to Consider Before Transitioning from Exchange 2003 to 2010

I wanted to highlight this for our blog audience, so future clients have some advance notice on changes they'll have to make.

In particular, I wanted to emphasize these points:

  1. Exchange Server 2010 is 100% 64-bit. 32-bit servers (such as those used by Exchange 2003) will not work.
  2. Your admins WILL need retraining. The difference in server roles between 2003 and 2010 alone merits it. Not to mention the new Exchange Management Console.
  3. In 2010, OWA is now located on the Client Access server. Setting up OWA is not required at first; setting up a Client Access server is.
  4. Plan to keep your 2003 Exchange servers active until the 2010 transition is made completely. If you remove the 2003 servers too early, users with Exchange 2003 mailboxes may not be able to get their email.
  5. And one point partially covered in the article: If you're running Windows Server 2003 or SBS 2003 and want to move to Exchange 2010, upgrade your primary servers too. 2008 versions of Windows Server and SBS are out; a clean upgrade on both sides is easier. And doing both at once just makes sense – saves you additional headache later.

This is a free warning from us ahead of time. Exchange 2010 is a big step ahead in terms of Unified Communications, new capabilities like Auto-Archive, etc. It just has a learning curve,like all rebuilt software.

Upgrading from Exchange 2003 to 2010? Plan for These Changes
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