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The Really Useless And Misleading Microsoft Utility Award

Goes to, the Exchange 2007 PowerShell command Export-Mailbox and killing of ExMerge. They don’t document it, don’t let you use it the way you think, and give you another reason to waste a day on a Microsoft mistake.

Not since the choice of naming two very different e-mail clients “Outlook” have I seen such a horribly confusing and reprehensible display if de-innovation from a company that often preaches but doesn’t deliver.

Let me give a little background – one of the most important things an Exchange Server admin might do is archive messages for users that may have left a company. Since its always made sense to use PST database technology to store these archives, Microsoft made a small utility called Exmerge for this. Exmerge would run on the Exchange 5.5 to 2003 server and export users mailboxes to PST files.

Now, move forward to Exchange Server 2007 – Microsoft stops supporting Exmerge and introduces the command-line PowerShell with the product. The PowerShell works with various cmdlets that allow you to do things and gather information. Some of these cmdlets are quite useful too – the get-MailBoxStatistics Is one example of a useful tool. Microsoft, however, also introduces Export-Mailbox here too – while killing support for Exmerge. Sure, you can still run it on an Exchange 2003 server, but chances are, if you run Exchange 2007, you probably don’t have extra servers with 2003 on the side (unless you’re rich or nostalgic).

As far as the actual intended use for Export-Mailbox, I’m sure there’s a migration tool there. Though, the intention was clearly to replace Exmerge – but somewhere along the way of stopping support for one utility, Microsoft ran into issues and gave up on one of the most important purposes for Export-Mailbox. So, as an admin, you were screwed if you wanted to export user data from your server. If you wanted to do it the “hard” way though, taking the user’s computer – you could use Outlook to export to a PST file.

So, let’s look at this – you want to run Export-Mailbox on an Exchange 2007 server (that is by the way, 64bit) to export using the -PSTfolderpath parameter. In the initial release of Exchange, this parameter didn’t exist. Ok, so you download the 800+ megabyte service pack 1 for Exchange Server because the Microsoft documentation “clearly” describes that this functionality is now there. Whoa! You try it and you get some generic message saying you can’t do that on a 64bit server…

So what Microsoft’s extremely poor documentation doesn’t say is that you have to run the Exchange Management tools on a 32bit machine. Ah.. I see. But, the 32bit machine is going to need Office 2003 or later and you still have to download the management tools 700+ megabyte. After setting up a machine, the Office Version and the management tools you need (3 hours if your fast) you realize the parameter isn’t there! Oh yes, don’t forget the 800+ megabyte Service Pack that has to be downloaded and installed. Its even better, because the Service Pack you used on your 64bit version of Exchange can’t be used, cue another 800 meg download!

So, to replace a utility that was, all told, maybe 2mb installed (ExMerge), Microsoft now forces you to have 1 extra computer, 1 copy of Windows 32bit, a copy of office 2003, and download more than 2.2gb from their website – not to mention wasting a whole day in the process. Shame on you Microsoft!