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Exchange Online December 2011 Service Update




Over the next several months Microsoft will deploy the December 2011
Exchange Online Service Update. As a part of this update, we will also
make high availability architecture enhancements in all datacenters that
host Office 365 tenant domains. These updates will be staggered
globally, beginning in December 2011, and we expect full deployment to
complete within six months. Approximately one week before the service
update is deployed to your region we will post more information in
the Planned Maintenance section in your Service Health Dashboard portal.
Please check this resource for awareness of
when your update is scheduled to begin.

The changes contained in this update are summarized below.

  • High Availability Architecture Enhancements:
    We are extending our high availability architecture across additional
    sites to provide greater resilience in the event of network failures.
    Administrators and end users may notice changes to server names in URLs
    and in protocol settings. The connection for client applications and
    devices, including those configured to connect directly to server
    addresses, will automatically redirect when the mailbox is migrated to
    the latest software. A very small percentage of mobile devices are not
    100% compliant and may have to be reconfigured to connect to a changed
    pod address. Please refer users to the Mobile Phone Setup Wizard for connection procedures.
  • Sender Photos in Outlook Web App:
    You can now match faces to names in your organization with photos
    displayed next to sender information in emails. Display of photos is
    enabled by default, but you can modify the settings of your Outlook Web
    App mailbox policy to disable this feature.
  • Outlook Web App in Internet Explorer 9 App Mode:
    Outlook Web App can now be pinned to the task bar using Internet
    Explorer 9 App Mode. This gives you the ability to launch Outlook Web
    App with one click and run it with fewer distractions, separated from
    other browsing sessions. It also keeps you informed of incoming email
    and IM when minimized or hidden and offers quick access to common
    Outlook Web App commands from the taskbar.
  • Group Naming Policy:
    You can now standardize and manage the names of distribution groups,
    also known as public groups, created by users in your organization. You
    can require a specific prefix and suffix be added to the name for a
    distribution group when it's created, and you can block specific words
    from being used. This helps you minimize the use of inappropriate words
    in group names.
  • Retention Policy and Tag Management:
    We have made it easier than ever to manage retention settings for the
    user mailboxes in your organization. You can now use the mail control
    settings in Exchange Control Panel to create and manage retention tags
    and policies.
  • Multi-Mailbox Search Enhancements:
    You can now launch a separate window to preview message hits and
    statistics for each query. Search performance has also been improved
    with reduced impact of retried query failures, as well as enhancements
    to scalability and availability.
  • Migration Enhancements: Two new enhancements to migration features will bring greater efficiency to e-mail migrations.
    • Enhanced Management Capabilities:
      The new Exchange Online migration dashboard helps to improve
      administrative efficiency during a cutover Exchange migration, a staged
      Exchange migration, or an IMAP migration. Tenant administrators can
      schedule multiple migration batches, obtain migration status information
      for migration batches, view per user details, and see skipped items.
      Improved reporting and diagnostics tools provide an improved
      troubleshooting experience.
    • Number of Concurrent Migrations: Administrators can now use Exchange Management Shell to increase the value for a migration batch to as high as 50.
  • Exchange Hybrid Configuration Wizard:
    This wizard will help streamline the hybrid deployment process by
    simplifying configuration of features and services such as calendar and
    free/busy information sharing, mailbox moves, secure mail flow and
    Exchange Online Archiving. This feature is not included as part of the
    December 2011 Exchange Online Service Update, but will be available in
    December 2011 as part of the Exchange Server 2010 SP2 release.




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