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Quicker, Easier Exchange Installs, Complete with Service Packs and Rollups!

Update 02-25-2010: The method defined below is NOT supported for UPGRADING servers, such as new service packs and rollups. This method is ONLY for NEW installations.

Note: The Service Packs and Update Rollups mentioned here are no longer current, but the process is still the same. Simply substitute the latest SP and UR packages when using this process.

One of the very slick features built into the setup routines of Exchange Server 2007 is the ability to install Exchange with service packs and rollups already applied. Microsoft has previously provided this feature in operating system installations via it’s slipstreaming process, but the Exchange 2007 method is even easier.

The Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1 download is a full install, so you can install Exchange directly from that download, instead of having to install Exchange first, then the service pack. This alone will save you some time. But we can shorten this up further by incorporating the latest Rollup package into the install as well.

When you look at the file structure of an Exchange 2007 RTM DVD, you see something like:

\Forefront
\Scripts
\Setup
\UM
\Updates
autorun.inf
EXCHANGESERVER.msi
relnotes.htm
Setup.com
Setup.EXE

But when you download the SP1 file and expand it, you’ll notice that the \UM and \Forefront folders don’t exist. That’s because those components are not part of the SP1 download. The SP1 Unified Messaging language packs are available as a separate download. Due to their size, I can certainly understand why Microsoft provides them as separate downloads. You can also download an updated version of Forefront including the latest service pack via a separate download. The rest of the file is a full, complete set of Exchange installation
files.

The clue here is the \Updates folder. The latest rollup, which, as of this time is Service Pack 1 Rollup 2, can be installed at the same time by placing the rollup .msp file in the \Updates folder of your installation point. By doing that, the setup routine will automatically apply the rollup as it installs Exchange.

If you’re doing unattended installations, you can also specify the directory containing updates using the /UpdatesDir switch. For more information on unattended installs, see How to Install Exchange 2007 in Unattended Mode

If you do a lot of Exchange installs, you might want to put together a full DVD by downloading the SP1 file, the rollup file, Forefront, and the UM language packs and tossing them onto a DVD or thumbdrive, recreating the original folder structure. An interesting note in that the Exchange autoplay program checks for the existence of the Forefront folder to determine if the install option should be displayed on the menu.

I also include the 32bit SP1 download so I can install the management tools on workstations, as well as the 32 and 64 bit versions of the prerequisites, .Net Framework 2.0 Service Pack 1 (32 bit)(64 bit), Management Console 3.0 (32 bit), and PowerShell. This gives me a full set of everything needed to install Exchange server, right on a thumbdrive, without having to resort to lengthy downloads.

As we can see, we don’t need to sit and watch the blue bars go by as we wait for files to download. We can speed up the time it takes to deploy Exchange.

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