Inside Microsoft we have this custom of “dog-fooding” new software, and Exchange 2010 is now at the point where Microsoft IT feel they can run it outside of North America. So a few days ago I got a mail saying my mail box was going to be moved to a new server “using the new Exchange 2010 Online Mailbox Move feature, which means your mailbox should not experience any downtime during the migration.” It’s 3 years since I moved away from being an Exchange consultant and so I’ve not kept track of exactly how it handles storage better, but it does, so the move to 2010 is giving us 4.5 GB mailboxes instead of the current 1GB, so I shouldn’t need to empty my deleted items folder before the end of the year.

Before leaving for the office this morning I checked my calendar with Outlook Web Access and I was still on 2007. I got to work and Outlook told me to log off and log on again because of a change, and there was a mail saying my Voice mail had a new PIN a new access number for 2010. Outlook 2010 has a little status box in the corner telling me how near to full my mail box is, that was still reporting that I was down to the last of my space. Then at a few minutes past 11 I noticed that box had gone. I re-enabled it and woo-hoo I had a 4.5 GB mail box. As a user the Online Mailbox Move lived up to its billing. Something might have hidden some downtime from me, but the move didn’t appear to happen while I was driving into work and I didn’t see any down time. When things go badly with our internal IT, “Microsoft IT” gets a lot of flack: when things go this well, they look like heroes.

2010 gives me an update to the Unified communications bits, notably it transcribes voice mail – the jury is still out on how well it will do that overall, but you if you pick up mail on a mobile device you get some sense of the message without having  to dial in or download the sound file. With Exchange 2007 I’ve grown used to being able to call in and get my e-mail read to me and I’ll be interested to see  if 2010 copes better with bad mobile phone connections and still does some of the slightly comical translations of  internal abbreviations “MS” becomes Manuscript, and “Technical Sales Professionals”, TSPs in Microsoft speak were teaspoons. Someone whose initials are SJ let us know that this got translated to “Society Of Jesus”. 

This morning we also got chatting in the office about our use of the full unified communications suite. This means we have our own voice conferencing system based on Office Communications Server (so no need to spend money on 3rd party dial up conferencing services), and we can use Communicator as a soft-phone when travelling or working from home. The former means cheap calls from abroad, and the latter give me a workround or the patchy phone signal I get at home. I love UCs call routing abilities – or perhaps I should say I hate putting people through the dilemmas of “Do I call this number or that number” and “If I get voice mail, should I redial on another number”. So I give out one number: UC will simultaneously “ring” on my PC and on my mobile and I can answer from either. If I’m at my PC I can steer the call to a different number or to voice mail, and it’s easier to forward the call if need be (even forwarding it to my mobile so I can shut the PC down and walk and talk). The only caution here is setting communicator to “Do not disturb” routes all calls straight to voice mail: forget to take communicator off DND you get voice mails without the phone ringing.  I need to educate people “Yes you can have my mobile number to text me, but if I don’t answer on the landline number, there is no point ringing the mobile.” , “If you do ring the mobile and get no answer you’ll will have to ring the land-line to leave a message”.  No-one seems to have got a good way to tell who is more easily contacted by mobile for whom the “one number” is not the desk one but the mobile: everyone assumes the numbers they give out themselves are the best numbers to give out for other people.