Thoughts on Exchange 2013 Preview Install on Windows 2012 RC

I know, I know, I know–the RTM bits for WS2012 are available now.  But I already had a RC environment spun up and available to me. Disclaimer: This isn’t going to be a big technical blog outlining the steps to take when doing an install. There is a bit of technical detail and reference at the end, in the TechStuff section. Think of it more of a running diary of my experience getting this in. Having said that, lets go!

First thoughts:

Downloaded/extracted/mounted the install code into my VM. Found setup.exe and ran it.  Just wanted to see what would happen.  First few screens were the normal stuff: Licensing, Error reporting etc. One thing I noticed that made me go “Oh, that’s kind of nice” was when it prompted to look for Exchange updates before diving into the install.  Not an earth-shattering turn of events, but a nice touch.

The first important task (IMHO): PreRequisite Check.  Noticed that the only role options were for the CAS and Mailbox role. No Hub Transport, no UM. I hadn’t looked at any of the technical documentation yet, so this raised an eyebrow. It took me all of about 2 minutes to learn about the new architecture (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj150540(v=exchg.150).aspx#BKMK_Arch).

Since I hadn’t done any AD preparation, I got prompted for the Exchange Organization name, followed by a choice on turning Anti-Malware on/off. Setup said it needed internet access to update Anti-Malware, and since I don’t have that on these VMs, I chose no.  I’ll get some access and turn it on later.

Prompted for CAS external name settings.  I’ll configure those later.

Customer Experience Improvement Program. No.

Finally, actually did an actual prerequisite check. It had the option to let setup install any required Windows Features.  Finally. Not sure why this wasn’t included in Exchange 2010 setup. I said yes. If you’d rather have all these enabled prior to running setup, I’ve put the PowerShell cmdlets  to install all the features in the TechStuff section.

Still had some prereq problems, but it had to do with patches/updates that aren’t Windows Features, things like the Office 2010 Filter Pack SP1.  The download urls were provided, so it was pretty painless to deal with these and forge ahead.

One pain point here though. After downloading and installing everything that it had indicated, when I reran the PreReq Check, I got an error stating that Exchange Server 2013 Preview isn’t compatible with Microsoft Visual C++ 11 Beta Redistributable. I had to now uninstall it and rerun the PreReq check. Not hard, just annoying.

***UPDATE: The setup GUI did not install the “Windows Identity Foundation 3.5” Windows feature. This is required for the Exchange Control Panel (ECP) to work properly.  Even though it said it was going to install all required Windows Features, apparently it didn’t.  Watch out for this!

Once past that, it went to the actual install itself.  My only complaint is that the setup progress screen is bereft of much information. I’d like to see more information than “Step 4 of 15” and a percentage.  I’d like to know what each step was doing, at least in a big-picture kind of way.

Unfortunately, at step 8 out of 15, my laptop crashed, taking the VMs with it.  When I recovered and fired up the Exchange 2013 VM and reran setup it had detected that a previous instance of setup didn’t finish and prompted me to attempt to complete. I thought “let’s see how well this works”. In two words: It didn’t. I let it sit for about an hour, and it never made any progress one way or the other.  I cancelled out of the setup and tried to remove the installation manually.

First, I went to the Programs and Features control panel and uninstalled Exchange 2013 preview. That worked. So far so good.  I reran setup, but this time I got errors about Global Updates and permissions. A little digging made me realize that it wasn’t a clean uninstall.  I had to manually delete the “C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server” directory and the “Microsoft System Objects” container in ADUC.

I took this opportunity to have a look at the command-line parameters for the Exchange 2013 setup.  A brief look at the inline help didn’t reveal anything overly exciting, so I had a check of the Prepare Topology help (setup.exe /help:PrepareTopology).

I ran the following:

Setup.exe /PrepareSchema /IAcceptExchangeServerLicensingTerms

Setup.exe /PrepareAD /OrganizationName: “NZMCT Org” /IAcceptExchangeServerLicensingTerms

Setup.exe /PrepareDomain /IAcceptExchangeServerLicensingTerms

Anyone else see the switch that I don’t like?  Especially since this isn’t a PowerShell cmdlet so there’s no AutoComplete. Arrrggghhhhhhh.

Once my topology was prepared I reran the setup GUI, and all went more or less according to plan.   I think had I not had a laptop crash, this would have been a straightforward install process.  Others have told me they had no problems.  I’ll take their word for it. 🙂

So What Now?

Now that I’ve got an environment I’m go to start having a play.  There’s the obvious differences in architecture and management (Say goodbye to the Exchange Management Console. PowerShell and ECP are your friends), but I’m sure there’s all kinds of good stuff in there, and I’m looking forward to figuring it all out.

TechStuff

import-module servermanager
 add-windowsfeature telnet-client,RSAT-ADDS,net-framework-45-core,windows-identity-foundation,Web-Static-Content,Web-Default-Doc,Web-Http-Errors,web-asp-net,web-asp-net45,Web-Net-Ext,Web-ISAPI-Ext,web-isapi-filter,Web-Http-Logging,Web-Log-Libraries,Web-Http-Tracing,Web-Windows-Auth,Web-Filtering,Web-Stat-Compression,Web-Dyn-Compression,Web-Mgmt-Console,Web-Scripting-Tools,Web-Client-Auth,server-media-foundation,MSMQ-Server,MSMQ-Directory
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