Future Exchange distribution media: CDs vs. DVD? Let us know!

Exchange Server 2003 fits on a single CD. For Exchange 12, which is expected to be released in the second half of 2006, the disk space consumption for a full install of the product is much larger than previous versions, because of certain features that use a lot of disk space across multiple languages. So because of that and because we've heard complaints from customers who didn't like multiple-CD installs of other server products, we are evaluating shipping the Exchange12 bits on a single DVD instead of multiple CDs.


We're aware that DVD drives are not as common in server hardware as they are in consumer and end user systems, but we're trying to get some feedback to understand how our customers feel about the idea of having a DVD for Exchange instead of multiple CDs. Here are some specific questions that we'd appreciate your answers to:

  • In your Exchange server environment today, do you currently have a DVD drive available - such as on a machine reachable over the network from your server, or a USB DVD drive - from which you can install server software?
  • Thinking about your Exchange environment in late 2006, do you expect to have a DVD drive available from which you can install server software at that time?
  • Would you see Exchange shipping on one DVD (as opposed to multiple CDs) as a convenience or a hassle? If a hassle, do you have a "threshold point" for where a single DVD becomes more attractive than multiple CDs? I.e. is it 3 CDs? 4?
  • Do you have any other comments on DVD or CD media for server software?

Please post your thoughts on this as comments to this post!


- KC Lemson

Comments (68)
  1. Ergon Copeland says:

    Let DVD rule and make CDs disappear forever.

  2. denny says:

    IDEA: is there space on a DVD to store ISO’s of the CD’s plus the DVD installer?

    then the customer can install from DVD / mount a DVD on a LAN or burn CD’s localy if needed.

    that IMHO is the way to do it.

    also I say 1 or 2 CD’s are ok, 4+ is a pain.

    and DVD readers are cheap now…

    all new servers I spec a DVD ROM as standard gear.

  3. We currently have DVD drives available on our network as well as a few USB models as well. I wouldn’t see that change significantly between now and 2006.

    I think it would be more convenient on the DVD as I often run exchange installs from Network locations anyway.

    As DVD plays continue to proliferate, I think having at least a DVD option would be great.

  4. anon says:

    we started procuring servers with DVD drives about a year ago.

  5. SuperJason says:

    I don’t see an issue with sending out DVD’s. If you can’t afford a $20 DVD drive, you shouldn’t be buying exchange.

  6. DVD would be fine. says:

    A DVD would be fine, but CD’s are OK too. We always copy media off to a file server and I run installs from there.

  7. Tom Miller says:

    DVD should be fine. Even if the server doesn’t have a DVD a simple share takes care of that.

  8. Robert Aitchison says:

    On one hand practically no (I’m not aware of any) servers from 1st tier vendors (Dell, HPaq, IBM) come from the factory with DVD drives today.

    External USB DVDs are always an option but may be tedious in a datacenter environment, you’d need a kind of "crash cart" to hold your drive while it was hooked up to the server. This is exactly what I’ve done for blade servers.

    On larger servers you could always swap the CD drive that came with it for a DVD but on the smaller 1U & 2U rackmount server often they have low profile (notebook style) CD drives that are probably harder to get a replacement for. & replacing the optical drive on my brand new server is not something I’d prefer to deal with.

    Of course if media started being available on DVD only that would motivate the hardware manufactuers to include DVD drives with their servers.

    Finally, I suspect that most people copy their installation media to the network and install from a local folder on the server anyways, and practically all notebooks and desktops come with DVD drives so it doesn’t matter that much, except maybe in a DR scenario.

  9. Leeper says:

    We made the switch over to DVD drives as a standard on servers 2 years ago. We would welcome the switch to a single DVD over multiple CDs.

  10. Rinvelt says:

    I don’t see why you would want to go with DVDs. Are there other products that ship on DVDs yet? Do you really want to be the first?

  11. Claudio Galletti says:

    Let’s go with DVD’s !

  12. Devin L. Ganger says:

    If you really need that much space, DVDs are handy. I personally prefer to copy all my installation bits up to a network share and perform the installation from there; it makes it easier when the inevitable service pack comes along and I’m using an updated ExDeploy to run the installer.

  13. darno says:

    DVDs are greatly preferred to multiple CDs. If there’s space for CD ISOs, too, go that route.

    For products that still fit on a single CD though, I wouldn’t bother using DVDs.

  14. Michael Cottenden says:

    Every server we have in 2006 will have DVD drive. CDs are dead!!

  15. BK says:

    Prefer DVD over multiple CDs. Unless there’s problem installing from a network point, I don’t see any problem.

  16. Chris Kinsman says:

    DVD all the way

  17. MikeB says:

    You mean there are people that still install from media?

    DVD’s are fine. We order all of our HP servers with DVD drives. However we install almost all software from a network share.

  18. Christopher lewis says:

    Why don’t you just release a CD with the base install, and then release a CD with Language packs? Isn’t that how MS does XP & 2003?

  19. Dave says:

    Given the cost of media relative to the cost of Exchange, is there any real reason not to ship both?

  20. Daniel says:

    All servers here have dvd as a basic requirement

  21. Rob Campbell says:

    Both would be nice. I can cope with the DVD’s but I’d still like the option of having a set of CD’s in the crash kit for the DR Hot Site.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Microsoft’s KC Lemson asks over on You Had Me at EHLO whether people would want the next version of Exchange to come on multiple CDs or a single DVD. I’m all in favor of DVDs — I usually copy the…

  23. Michel says:

    DVD are fine, plenty options to install over the network or USB if in 2006 the server still only has a CD drive (I doubt it). I like the suggestion of putting the CD ISO’s on the DVD though.

  24. Pete Heilig (Gartner Inc.) says:

    In your Exchange server environment today, do you currently have a DVD drive available – such as on a machine reachable over the network from your server, or a USB DVD drive -from which you can install server software?


    Thinking about your Exchange environment in late 2006, do you expect to have a DVD drive available from which you can install server software at that time?


    Would you see Exchange shipping on one DVD (as opposed to multiple CDs) as a convenience or a hassle? If a hassle, do you have a "threshold point" for where a single DVD becomes more attractive than multiple CDs? I.e. is it 3 CDs? 4?


    Threshold point is 6 CDs.

    Please include CD ISO’s on whatever distribution media is used. thanks.

  25. Bobby says:

    I like the idea of DVD. In our lab, not many of our servers have DVD drives, but we use Daemon Tools or just a file server to store all the installs anyway. CDs are just too hard to keep track of.

  26. Alex Scoble says:

    DVD drives are very rare on servers even today. Plus if you want existing customers to upgrade WITHOUT putting them through the hassle of purchasing new hardware, then CDs are a must.

    Of course, if you have stock in Dell, then DVDs are a good idea.

    But I would say that for a company like Microsoft, reach is king. Oh and BTW, it’s not a simple matter to replace the CD drive in a 2U or 1U server.

  27. Jack Peng says:

    We usually copy the installation files to network share. So…it does not matter either way….

  28. BBernard says:

    I advocate using the DVD but also including the CD ISO’s. I have servers that have DVD ROMs and some that do not but by the time the product ships, that will likely change. My personal threshold is probably six or more CD’s but I am likely more tolerant than many others. I am used to installing other products that span many cd’s.

    With the above said, any software product should ship with support for the lowest common denominator. In other words, CD’s are more prevalent at this point but if that changes by release, then you should consider adapting, just like when Windows went from a floppy install to a CD install…


  29. Luke Edson says:

    The exchange migrations I’ve handled have been in the hundreds, (one customer had over 200 domains migrated!) & I have yet to come across a server with a DVD drive installed. Whenever there’s been an application that was on DVD media, it was a hassle, as it had to be copied over the network, exasperating network saturation. – I like the mixed media option, or the core install on one, & the language install on the additional media.

  30. Amit Zinman says:

    Of course, having Exchange on DVD seems nice but SBS really needs it more. It is hard for me to believe that E12 will fill more than two CDs, seeing that Exchange 2003 barely fills half a CD now, even if you take into consideration the Edge services.

    But SBS most surely will just inflate and inflate. I think DVD should be standard for the next version of SBS in the same way that the transition was made from floppies to CDs.

    Remember the time when you had 12 floppies for installing Office? Ah the good old days…

  31. Steve Corke says:

    No problems with DVD, even though we spec our server fleet with DVD drives we never insert distributed media directly into production servers preferring to populate local software repositories via the network.

  32. alex says:

    As mentioned before, ship both, either as ISO images on the DVD or seperate.

  33. One more vote for DVD media

  34. nik says:

    We just bought a stack load of IBM x series …. they all came with dvd drives.

    By 2006 i’d bet money you wont be able to buy a server without a dvd drive.

  35. 1. Yes

    2. Yes

    3. DVD would be viewed as a convenience.

    We haven’t been buying DVD drives for our servers, but starting this year, we will be making them standard. DVD drives have been standard on our desktops for the last year, so we have sufficient drives available to copy bits up to the network.

  36. Tosh says:

    As many of the posts above state – hardly any servers come with DVD drives – I suppose if Microsoft start supplying DVD media as a matter of course, then server suppliers will start supplying DVD drives as standard! Lead the way…

  37. Victor says:

    All of our servers over the past year have come with DVD/CDR drives. I would welcome DVD media.

  38. David says:

    DVD wouldn’t be a big issue…installs are done from a network share. No machines here are purchased without DVD drives.

  39. Jason says:

    DVD all the way. Even if you guys are the first to do this (which I’m not sure is the case), the switch to DVD has to happen *sometime*.

    I would definitely make isos available, though, for the stubborn few and those who simply can’t use DVDs because of hardware restrictions like blade servers.

  40. I include DVD-ROMs as standard equipment now on servers. That aside, who in their right mind is schlepping the disk box to box in the datacenter? Put it on a file share and sit at your desk and RDC the machines. Laptops and workstations all come with DVD decks these days anyways.

    I’m all for DVD. That means i can pop the disk in, drag it to a file share and walk away from it … no babysitting it every five minutes for the next CD.

  41. Memnoch says:

    VPC 2004 ou Virtual Server can’t manage DVD ISO.

  42. Peter O'Dowd says:

    In theory DVDs sound OK. I thought so with my first MSDN subscription. I changed back to CDs very quickly.

    As an Exchange engineer I need to carry install media for Microsoft products especially for loading extra components. Most of my customers have servers with CDs, and whilst I have a laptop with a DVD drive there is no way they’ll let me connect my laptop to their internal network. CDs may be a pain but they ALWAYS work wherever you are.

    Why not give the purchaser a choice?

  43. Flaphead says:

    If it’s going to be multiple CD’s then it has to be DVD

  44. JoeyT says:

    Have access to DVD drives for net install, but none of my servers don’t have them. I may order replacement servers with DVDs in the future if there isn’t a significant cost.

    I would like to see either a choice to have it shipped on DVD or CD. Or do a ISO DVD of the installer CDs.

  45. Steve Iltis says:

    I would agree that 2 CDs would be fine.

    We do not have a DVD reader in our Exchange server. However, there are enough DVD readers in networked computers that copying the DVD to a network share would be feasible (as long as MS is OK with me putting on our internal network).

  46. Bharat Suneja says:

    – DVD of course! It’s any day better than carrying 2 (or more) CDs.

    – If server doesn’t have DVD drive, every laptop/desktop has one today – access over network.

    – It’s easy (and more convenient) to access everything on the network, rather than carry/store/save CDs.

    – Don’t think MS has any issues copying media on to network shares. With a volume/select/enterprise license, you can download all the stuff without having to burn/buy CDs.

    – If the server does not have a DVD Reader, you can use a Virtual-DVD utility like Virtuanl Clone Drive.

  47. bink says:

    DVD for sure!

  48. Brian Hoyt says:

    1. Have a DVD over Network.

    2. Will have DVD in server by ship date.

    3. Convience

  49. Pat Richard says:

    I say let the DVDs roll, although an idea that comes to mind is the method used for the retail version of SBS 2003: BOTH!

    If you buy the RETAIL version of SBS2003, the box includes the CDs AND a DVD. Might not be a bad idea for the next version, with DVDs only after that point.

    Just a thought.

  50. David says:

    DVDs only

  51. Martin Blackstone says:

    Not everyone has a DVD drive and we all know from experiance that people install Exchange in all kinds of wierd ways.

    I would say OK to DVD as long as it would be possible to copy the media over the network to the Exch server HD just in case they dont have a DVD drive.

  52. Adam Gates says:

    Why bother with either CD or DVD?

    Have media available for download from secure site on the Internet.

    This is obviously the next step.

    If someone wants a CD or DVD they can pay an extra $10-$15 for it.

    Everyone seems to just copy it to a network location anyway.

  53. brad says:

    I think DVD is a great idea, but maybe this time you can save some space by compressing (CAB) the OWA language files. I can’t believe how long it takes to copy all those files that many of us will never use. I think most international customers wouldn’t have a problem uncompressing the languages that they use.

  54. Gary Cooper says:

    I believe that DVD drives will eventually become the standard for servers as CD’s did a few years ago. In many of our customer’s, they copy the CD media today to a network drive location, in which case the media itself is not important. I vote for E12 to be delivered on a DVD and not on CD’s.

    Thank you KC for asking the community!

  55. Dennis Depp says:

    Either is OK as long as I can install across the network. I do not expect to have a DVD in all my servers in 2006, but I probably will have a dvd drive in all the new machines.

  56. MEK says:

    Virtually every server we have ordered in the last 12 months supports DVD, so moving to DVD images would be no issue.

  57. Ben N says:

    DVD format with ISO’s to make individual CDs in case i need them.

    I also usually run exchange setup from a network location or copied locally to run from there.

  58. I like the DVD with ISOs for cds available idea.

  59. Brad Anderson says:

    DVD format would work best. We usually end up placing the media files on a file server so we don’t hunt around all do for the CD’s.

  60. eufreka says:


  61. Garry Trinder says:

    We have approx 140 servers, none of which have a DVD drive.

    Nice to know though that we should consider DVD drives for any new serveres we purchase…

  62. Eric Wallace says:

    I agree with Denny (2nd post), and many others…

    DVDs. No CDs at all, please–but if there’s room, put the ISOs on the DVD for people who need to make their own CD-R sets for that strange server without a DVD drive and can’t figure out how to install from a shared network drive. ;)


  63. Rodney Buike says:


    Just imagine, 2003 R2 (2CDs) Exchange 12 (2CD’s) Office 2003 Suite (5CD’s) The time for DVD is now :)

  64. Arian van der Pijl says:

    Err .. I like games on a DVD because I really do not like disc juggling installing software.

    This is also true for corporate software!

    Also I like the idea that maybe you can add more extra’s on it like:

    Tools, training video’, manuals etc. the whole Microsoft Exchange Download site .. ;-)

    Maybe you can integrate WindowsPE, make the disc bootable for Exchange recovery.

  65. Anonymous says:

    A while back, we asked you what you thought about having Exchange 12 ship on DVD. We also did some market…

  66. Anonymous says:

    It’s that time of year again… the third annual blogoversary of the exchange product team blog! And…

  67. Anonymous says:

    What an exciting week it has been for our team! As part of the "Service Desk" Technology Adoption Program

Comments are closed.

Skip to main content