Office 2007 SP2 now available

I’ve been beta testing Office 2007 SP2 since the beginning of the year, and it’s been great – the single biggest reason to use it is the myriad improvements made to Outlook, in terms of stability & performance (particularly relating to search and to startup & closedown).

Download Office 2007 SP2 here

From the summary of what’s new, check out:

Microsoft Office Outlook

  • Performance improvements that apply to the following general responsiveness areas:
    • Startup
      Removes lengthy operations from initial startup.
    • Shutdown
      Makes Outlook exit predictably despite pending activities.
    • Folder View and Switch
      Improves view rendering and folder switching.
  • Calendar improvements
    Improves underlying data structures and the general reliability of calendar updates.
  • Data file checks
    Greatly reduces the number of scenarios in which you receive the following error message when you start Outlook:

    The data file ‘file name‘ was not closed properly. This file is being checked for problems.

  • Search reliability
    Improves search reliability when you use SP2 with Windows Desktop Search 4
  • Improvements to Really Simple Syndication (RSS)
    There are now fewer duplicated items.
  • Object Model improvements
    Now contains many customer-driven fixes.

For more information about these improvements and details about other Outlook fixes, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

968774 Outlook 2007 improvements in the 2007 Microsoft Office suite Service Pack 2

Exchange 2010 beta & high availability strategies

Today, the Exchange team released details of Exchange 14, now to be known as Exchange Server 2010. [download here]. There’s plenty of new stuff in the box, but I’m just going to look at one: high availability & data replication.

[My previous missives on Exchange 2007 HA are here, here and here]

There are some interesting differences between 2007 and 2010, particularly in the way databases are handled and what that means for clustering.


Single Copy Clusters, or the traditional way of deploying Exchange onto a Windows Cluster with several nodes sharing a copy of the data held in a central SAN, have quite a few downsides … like there being that Single Copy, or the fact that the storage hardware is typically complex and expensive.

There are other pretty major changes, like storage groups going away (it’s just a database now, a move that Exchange 2007 previewed by the advice that you should only have a single DB per SG), or the fact that databases are now the unit of failover (rather than the whole server…), or the ability now to install multiple roles on servers providing high availability – so you could deploy highly available, clustered/replicated environment to a small number of users, without having lots of boxes or VMs.

Oh, Local Continuous Replication goes away too…

Well, reading the documentation explains a bit more about how Exchange 2010 will change the way that high availability can be achieved – no more the need for a MSCS cluster to be set up first should make it simpler, for one. From that site:

Changes to High Availability from Previous Versions of Exchange

Exchange 2010 includes many changes to its core architecture. Two prominent features from Exchange 2007, namely CCR and SCR, have been combined and evolved into a single framework called a database availability group (DAG). The DAG handles both on-site data replication and off-site data replication, and forms a platform that makes operating a highly available Exchange environment easier than ever before. Other new high availability concepts are introduced in Exchange 2010, such as database mobility, and incremental deployment. The concepts of a backup-less and RAID-less organization are also being introduced in Exchange 2010.

In a nutshell, the key aspects to data and service availability for the Mailbox server role and mailbox databases are:

  • Exchange 2010 uses an enhanced version of the same continuous replication technology introduced in Exchange 2007. See the section below entitled “Changes to Continuous Replication from Exchange Server 2007” for more information.

  • Storage groups no longer exist in Exchange 2010. Instead, there are simply mailbox databases and mailbox database copies, and public folder databases. The primary management interfaces for Exchange databases has moved within the Exchange Management Console from the Mailbox node under Server Configuration to the Mailbox node under Organization Configuration.

  • Some Windows Failover Clustering technology is used by Exchange 2010, but it is now completely managed under-the-hood by Exchange. Administrators do not need to install, build or configure any aspects of failover clustering when deploying highly available Mailbox servers.

  • Each Mailbox server can host as many as 100 databases. In this Beta release of Exchange 2010, each Mailbox server can host a maximum of 50 databases. The total number of databases equals the combined number of active and passive databases on a server.

  • Each mailbox database can have as many as 16 copies.

  • In addition to the transport dumpster feature, a new Hub Transport server feature named shadow redundancy has been added. Shadow redundancy provides redundancy for messages for the entire time they are in transit. The solution involves a technique similar to the transport dumpster. With shadow redundancy, the deletion of a message from the transport database is delayed until the transport server verifies that all of the next hops for that message have completed delivery. If any of the next hops fail before reporting back successful delivery, the message is resubmitted for delivery to that next hop. For more information about shadow redundancy, see Understanding Shadow Redundancy.

Outlook Thread Compressor download now available

Nearly a year ago, I wrote about Thread Compressor on here – it’s an add-in to Outlook which removes unnecessary emails, on the assumption that most people reply to mail and leave the original intact, so you could keep the last mail in each branch of a thread, and remove all the others.


Way back when I was still developing TC, I tried to get it included on the Office Downloads section of, but our legal department was (with some justification) very nervous about us offering a download which would go through the end user’s mailbox like a dose of salts, deleting stuff. So it stayed (more or less) an internal tool: I even started developing a “version 5” with a much groovier UI and some extra features.

Included in the v5 beta (which is a real pain to install nowadays – the previous v4.2.030 version has nearly the same feature set and is a lot more self contained), was a piece of logic which captured stats on TC usage and emailed them back to me.

Since many people at MS are still running that beta (it’s a long story, but the source code went south so it’ll never get out of “beta” state), I still get maybe 20-30 statistics mails a day…

Since August 2003 when the first statistics email arrived – from me, kind-of naturally – until 24th April 2007 (when I last did an analysis of the stats), TC v5 beta had scanned over 400m email messsages and had compressed over 30m, worth nearly half a terabyte of email data.

To the reader, the spoils

Well, I finally decided – in an “ask forgiveness rather than permission” move – to make the last complete and stable version available for download.


It’s not particularly elegant looking by modern standards (given that most of it was written 7 years ago in VB6) but it does work, even on Windows 7 (x86 and x64) and Office 2007. Basically, anything post-Office 2000/Windows 2000 should be OK.

A reader called Mark Ruggles emailed me the other day and said:

“It is fantastic and it works like a champ in Outlook 2007. I turned it loose on my Inbox and my archive and I deleted 103Mb of redundant data. I sent it out to some of my colleagues and my manager used it cutting his archives down by 2Gb.

This is the coolest utility I’ve found in a long time.”

So, thanks to Mark’s comment, I’ve now registered and posted install instructions and a download file up there.