Using 32-bit Exchange Server 2007 in a production environment

It is generally believed that the 32-bit Exchange Server 2007 can only be used for testing, evaluation and training purposes in a lab environment. But this isn't entirely true.

Exchange Server 2007 is supposed to be deployed on 64-bit hardware for use in a production environment. It is generally

believed that the 32-bit Exchange 2007 can only be used for testing, evaluation and training purposes. But this isn't entirely true.

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It is possible to deploy the 32-bit version (or "E2K7/32" for short) as a live server in a supported fashion -- it's just that many of the things you would normally be able to do with Exchange 2007 are limited or restricted.

Here's a quick rundown on what's possible and what's not with the 32-bit version of Exchange 2007:

  • E2K7/32 can be used to administer other 64-bit instances of Exchange 2007. This can be done by installing E2K7/32 on Windows Server 2003 or Windows XP Professional. (Support for running E2K7/32 on Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, which was formerly known as Longhorn Server, are scheduled to be added in Exchange 2007 Service Pack 1.)
  • E2K7/32 can be used to extend the Active Directory service schema of a production environment.
  • E2K7/32 supports Single Copy Clusters (SCC) and Cluster Continuous Replication (CCR) -- but only between other E2K7/32 machines, and not in a production environment. These two features are also only nominally available on E2K7 Enterprise Edition.
  • E2K7/32 supports Unified Messaging (UM), but again only in a non-production environment.
  • E2K7/32 does not have an Exchange Management Console interface for entering a product key, since you can't purchase 32-bit licenses for Exchange 2007.
  • E2K7/32 does not obtain automatic antispam updates from Windows Update; only a licensed 64-bit edition of E2K7 can get these updates.
  • More on Exchange 2007:

    Step-by-Step Guide: Test driving Exchange Server 2007

    Exchange Server 2007 -- 32-bit versus 64-bit hardware

    Stress test Exchange Server (32-bit and 64-bit) with Exchange Load Generator

    Testing Exchange Server 2007 on a virtual machine

    Exchange 2007 Reference Center

  • E2K7/32 can only support up to five databases per server in as many as five Exchange storage groups.
  • E2K7/32 cannot be used as anything other than the standard edition of Exchange. There is no E2K7/32 Enterprise Edition. (The one exception to this is in the case of SCC and CCR, which are nominally Enterprise Edition features.)

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of Windows Insight, a newsletter devoted to hints, tips, tricks, news and goodies for all flavors of Windows users.

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If the 32-bit version of Exchange Server 2007 doesn't have an EMC to enter a product code, and the 32-bit version only has a 30-day trial, how can you keep the 32-bit version running longer than 30 days?

If I want to run only the 32-bit version in a lab and have it continue running and not have to reinstall every 30 days, how can I enter a product key?
—Scott B.

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If you want to use the 32-bit version of Exchange 2007 in a regular way (that is, without using the 30-day limited trial versions -- e.g., the .VHD trial that Microsoft has available), your best bet is to get the MSDN Premium subscription (with some version of Visual Studio). Check out the MSDN website for more details about which edition to use.

The 32-bit edition of Exchange 2007 is not sold anywhere; it's only available on MSDN as a download.
—Serdar Yegulalp, tip author

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Can I deploy Exchange Server 2007 32-bit in a production environment as an edge server situated on a network perimeter? (I have already purchased a full 64-bit version which is sitting inside the network.)
—Mike M.

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I would be inclined to think that an edge server counts as a production server. In fact, it seems to be more a production server since it's an Internet-facing server. Everything I've read or heard supports this.

You could set up a 32-bit Exchange 2007 box as an edge server, but it wouldn't be a Microsoft-supported configuration. One important aspect of 32-bit vs. 64-bit -- that isn't talked about much, but which might buzz out here -- is that load tuning for Exchange 2007 is optimized for 64-bit environments and may actually degrade somewhat on the 32-bit implementation.
—Serdar Yegulalp, tip author

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This was first published in May 2007

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