Get ready for the Office, SharePoint, and Exchange 2013 SP1 service packs

Edge Transport is back in Exchange 2013 SP1, but you probably don't want to go back to using it

Early 2014 will see Service Pack 1 updates for Office 2013, SharePoint 2013, and Exchange 2013 (but apparently not Lync), bringing the on-premises versions of these servers and applications up to par with the then-current Office 365 versions. It appears that issuing periodic service packs is how Microsoft will keep the on-premises versions of its offerings at parity with the cloud-delivered Office 365 versions, whose changes come more incrementally but more often -- and automatically.

Of course, it's not a sure thing that all the features found in Office 365 versions will be made available to the on-premises servers and applications; Microsoft is not guaranteeing such parity as it tries to move customers to subscription-based cloud delivery.

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The SP1 versions will allow Exchange 2013 and SharePoint 2013 to be installed on Windows Server 2012 R2. There will be fixes, improvements, and some schema updates, as expected.

In Exchange 2013 SP1 (aka Exchange 2013 Cumulative Update 4 -- how confusing!), there'll also be two returning features removed from the original Exchange 2013.

One is support for S/MIME in Outlook Web App.

The other is the inclusion of the Edge Transport server role, omitted in the original Exchange 2013 release. When Exchange 2013 was released, Microsoft told admins to use Exchange 2010 SP3 for their Edge Transport deployments, causing some admins to turn to other protection approaches instead. (Edge Transport is a perimeter-based role for protecting your Exchange environment from spam and malware, and it's where perimeter transport rules are applied.)

Paul Robichaux, an Exchange MVP and master, doesn't believe Edge Transport's comeback is due to popular demand: "I presume this is being reintroduced to pacify a few large, noisy customers, because I haven't seen any signs of customers demanding it. I would not expect to see significant feature improvements or investments in this role, either in SP1 or going forward," he wrote in his blog.

In other words, if you moved away from Edge Trasnsport, you made a smart move. Keep moving in that direction.

This story, "Get ready for the Office, SharePoint, and Exchange 2013 SP1 service packs," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in Windows at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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