Exchange 2013 Cumulative Update 3 released

I thought it might be fun to write an annotated version of the Exchange team blog post announcing the availability of CU3 for Exchange Server 2013. So here goes…

The Exchange team is announcing today the availability of our most recent quarterly servicing update to Exchange Server 2013.  Cumulative Update 3  for Exchange Server 2013 and updated UM Language Packs are now available on the Microsoft Download Center.  Cumulative Update 3 includes fixes for customer reported issues, minor product enhancements and previously released security bulletins.   A complete list of customer reported issues resolved in Exchange Server 2013 Cumulative Update 3 can be found in Knowledge Base Article KB2892464.

Translation: “We’re getting the hang of this cumulative update model. Notice that we gave you a list of bug fixes in this release, just like y’all asked for last time, although we’re not saying that this is a comprehensive list of every bug fixed in the CU.

We would like to call attention to an important fix in Exchange Server 2013 Cumulative Update 3 which impacts customers who rely upon Backup and Recovery mechanisms to protect Exchange data.  Cumulative Update 3 includes a fix for an issue which may randomly prevent a backup dataset taken from Exchange Server 2013 from restoring correctly.  Customers who rely on Backup and Recovery in their day-to-day operations are encouraged to deploy Cumulative Update 3 and initiate backups of their data to ensure that data contained in backups may be restored correctly.  More information on this fix is available in KB2888315.

Translation: “Backups are sooooo 2005. Why are you even doing them instead of using Exchange native data protection? DAGs and JBOD, baby. Just make sure you have at least 3 database copies. But if you are, well, take another backup right quick to make sure you can restore later.” [ Note that I am manfully resisting the urge to ask how this issue slipped through testing. –PR]

In addition to the customer reported fixes in Cumulative Update 3, the following new enhancements and improvements to existing functionality have also been added for Exchange Server 2013 customers:

  • Usability improvements when adding members to new and existing groups in the Exchange Administration Console
  • Online RMS available for use by non-cloud based Exchange eployments
  • Improved admin audit log experience
  • Windows 8.1/IE11 no longer require the use of OWA Light

Translation: “Who doesn’t like new features?  We promised to deliver new features on-premises, and we did, so yay us! However, notice how we avoided saying ‘on-premises’, instead using the clumsy ‘non-cloud based’ term instead.

More information on these topics can be found in our What’s New in Exchange Server 2013, Release Notes and product documentation available on TechNet. Cumulative Update 3 includes Exchange related updates to Active Directory schema and configuration.  For information on extending schema and configuring the active directory please review the appropriate TechNet documentation.   Also, to prevent installation issues you should ensure that the Windows PowerShell Script Execution Policy is set to “Unrestricted” on the server being upgraded or installed.  To verify the policy settings, run the Get-ExecutionPolicy cmdlet from PowerShell on the machine being upgraded.  If the policies are NOT set to Unrestricted you should use the resolution steps in KB981474 to adjust the settings.

Translation: “Because we love you and want you to be happy, we’ve included a schema update to keep your Active Directory looking shiny and fresh. Remember, we can push schema updates in CUs now. Sorry if this means your organizational change control process means you have to delay installing the CU for months while you wait for the change to be assessed and approved.

Our next update for Exchange Server 2013, Cumulative Update 4, will be released as Exchange Server 2013 Service Pack 1.  Customers who are accustomed to deploying Cumulative Updates should consider Service Pack 1 to be equivalent to Cumulative Update 4 and deploy as normal.

Translation: “CU4 will be so awesome that it’s really a service pack, if you like service packs, but if you don’t, then it’s not. Because every CU can include both features and fixes now, we have lots of flexibility to choose when to deploy features. Part of the reason we changed the servicing model was to get people away from the ‘wait for SP1’ attitude, so if SP1 is really just CU4, that helps show there’s no reason to wait.

Reminder:  Customers in hybrid deployments where Exchange is deployed in-house and in the cloud, or who are using Exchange Online Archiving with their in-house Exchange deployment are required to maintain currency on Cumulative Update releases.

Translation: “Surprise! Since you can’t control what release your Office 365 tenant is running, if you’re in hybrid mode (or want to be), you now must commit to remaining on the current CU. If that’s a problem because of schema changes, well, good luck with that. I suppose if enough people complain we might start pre-announcing which CUs will contain schema changes so you can plan ahead.

Overall, I’m looking forward to seeing CU3 be widely deployed. It seems to be a stable and solid release based on my experience with it. The new features will be welcome, and I am heartened to see the team continuing to hit their release cadence.

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