KC Lemson

By KC Lemson [MS]

Strange things that happen to your email when you work on email software

Strange things that happen to your email when you work on email software

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Raymond's recent blog on strange things that happen when you let people choose their own name (part 3) reminded me to check if my favorite old email address, kclemson5 AT exchange.microsoft.com was still working: yep, still there.

As to the history of why I can be reached via that email address, it goes back to the months before we shipped Exchange 2000, when we were heavily dogfooding public folders. I had a public folder with my alias (kclemson) that I used to store various messages and documents that I wanted to share with others in my team.

At one point, something somehow happened in MSIT ops [1] whereby somehow all of the public folders somehow got email enabled, and there was a collision (because gee golly, there already was a kclemson AT exchange.microsoft.com, aka me) so it couldn't give the public folder that address... and somehow it ended up following a codepath that then stamped a 'kclemson5'[2] on my user object. No kclemson4, 3 or 2. Don't ask me why. Ahh, I love software. :-)

So because there's an (understandable) reticence on IT's part to ever remove an email address from a mailbox, it has persisted on my user object ever since.

Also collecting dust on my user object are some additional addresses that are a nice little traipse through memory lane of former Exchange codenames, the history of mail at Microsoft as well as hint at some of the forced complexity we put in our environment in order to ensure that dogfooding Exchange for Microsoft helps us find and fix enterprise-scale bugs before RTM:



Let's see:

  • msg.microsoft.com - I don't actually remember what this is for - any takers?
  • titanium.microsoft.com - titanium was the codename for Exchange 2003
  • windows.microsoft.com - the Windows team has their own forest for deploying early builds of windows server builds - although I don't know the reason for the kclemson2
  • platinum.corp.microsoft.com - platinum was the codename for Exchange 2000.
  • APPS-WGA: No, WGA isn't Windows Genuine Advantage. It was the acronym of the org I was in at the time (Outlook) but I can't for the life of me remember what it spelled out.
  • Xenix_users: Who doesn't love a good throwback to good ol' xenix_users? I love how this has even trickled into documentation.

And while we're enjoying the many uses of the "E-Mail Addresses" tab when looking up a user in Outlook, here's a fun bit of Exchange trivia: notice how the "smtp:" prefixes on all of those addresses are all lower case? There's a separate proxy address which has a prefix of "SMTP:" in upper case - but only one. The upper case nature of the prefix is how Exchange knows that that proxy is the default proxy address for the user (e.g. the one to use on outbound mail by default). This isn't purely a handy trick to make the item stand out more in the dialog - the code actually looks for the upper case letters.

I wasn't around when these concepts were first implemented in Exchange, but I assume it's one of those pieces of code that was written 15 years ago and well, there really wasn't a compelling reason for changing it because It Worked Fine. If it ain't broke...



[1] And this is where my memory is fuzzy on the exact details so forgive the number of "somehow"s.
[2] kclemson5 is alive![3]
[3] I used that same reference recently to a room full of blank looks.

  • Get The OOF Out Of Here Microsoft Software + Services and Cloud Computing Screencast: How to configure

  • No disassemble! Need input.

    Around here MSG = Madison Square Garden, but I don't think that would've made its way into Exchange.

  • Well one could argue about the 'ain't broke' part :).  When you work for a company that has e-mail objects that have multiple proxy addresses and the senders would like to 'maintain' the sending address instead of Exchange defaulting to the SMTP one.

    For example:

    SMTP: tjones@domain.com

    smtp: tomjones@domain.com

    We regularly have customers who have this type of setup and want to send out as tomjones@domain.com from time to time, but can't (at least through Exchange) because of how defaults work.  We generally have them submit via SMTP to a Sendmail box when they need to do this.

    I'd be nice, if one day, we could configure the 'default' behavior when it comes to addressing.

  • Steven: My comment above about it not being broke was to the aspect of using case sensitivity... I agree with you that not letting users *choose* their outbound smtp address (which can work regardless of what is specified as the 'default', e.g. outlook with 3 pop accounts has a default but the user can override it) is a good scenario and one I hope we will be able to address soon.

  • As I recall, WGA = Workgroup Applications.

  • Raymond: Yes, that was it! It was so meaningful and non-bland, what a shock that I couldn't remember it.

  • MSG = perhaps an IM address when it was integrated into Exchange 2000?

  • Great post, explained really well and I could really understand. Thank you.

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