Update: Exchange Server TechNet Library URLs


Many of you have seen our previous blog post announcing the Exchange documentation URL changes, and have provided us with your feedback on the matter. Starting off, we want to thank you for all of it; we learned quite a bit from it, and we think it’s fantastic that we have such passionate and vocal community.

First, a little bit of history. How did we get here?

As an enterprise product with a long lifecycle, product documentation for multiple Exchange versions is published on TechNet. If you look at Exchange documentation library, you will find content for Exchange Server 2013, Exchange Server 2010, Exchange Server 2007 and Exchange Server 2003.

Exchange Server TechNet Library navigation

As part of our content publishing process, we have historically used version-less URLs (URLs with no version info) that point to the most recent version of a topic. This has been our practice for both our IT Pro and Developer documentation for multiple releases of Exchange. Interestingly, we didn’t get any negative feedback, or really any feedback at all the previous time we made this switch, when we moved from Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2010.

One could speculate as to why the previous switch wasn’t painful, but this one was, but the main point is — this last switch was.

Where do we go from here?

Taking all of the feedback we received into consideration, and based upon upcoming documentation publishing milestones, we have decided on the following course of action to prevent this sort of pain from happening with future product releases (the changes are not live yet, but will be starting tomorrow):

– Bad news first: we will not be switching the documentation URLs back to where they were pre-November 2012. While this was a painful decision, we do not want to increase the pain more by doing another switch after 3 months.

– Looking forward, we will make it so that all of our documentation exposes the version information in the URL. So, for Exchange 2010, that would mean that you will see (EXCHG.141) as part of the URL, and for Exchange 2013 you’ll see (EXCHG.150). These are the URLs that will be used in the navigation elements on TechNet and in links in the content. Version-less URLs will still point to the latest version of the specific article. However, as version-specific URLs will be available (and visible when you browse our documentation) for everything, we expect that the use of version-less URLs will decrease over time. In other words, any Library topics you link to (by copying from your browser’s address bar) will have the version identifier.

We are hoping that this course of action will provide the right balance of what a set of our customers want and our ability to still optimize discoverability of content across multiple product versions.

Exchange Documentation Team

Comments (46)
  1. Michael B. says:

    Is the memory at Microsoft so short? Really?

    There were complaints going from 2007 to 2010.

    There were also complaints when you went from text-based URLs to GUID-based URLS, and when you went from GUID-based URLs to the current pseudo-random URLs. Just as now when there are complaints going from “pseudo-random” URLs to “pseudo-random URLs with version information”.

    Each time, you have promised us that “going forward” our URLs would be inviolate.

    Each time you have violated that promise. Stomped it into tiny pieces in the dirt.

    I have two books – that still sell over 50 copies a quarter each even against technologies a decade old – one against 2003 and one against 2007 – and all the URLs are invalid in those books. I have hundreds of blog postings where the URLs are invalid. I have hundreds of print magazine and online magazine articles where the URLs are invalid.

    This blog post does not represent a solution.

    It represents an admission that you don’t care. Get real. Be honest.

    It destroys your credibility to write things in this tone. Tell the truth. “We hear you, we aren’t willing to do anything but this.”

  2. What a mess says:

    It took you over 3 months to come back to us with a "we will not be switching the documentation URLs back"? This news is terrible! PLEASE switch the damn URLs BACK!!! Typing in "(EXCHG.141)" is a complete joke. You've blown it again.

  3. Bharat Suneja [MSFT] says:

    @What a mess: Typing in the version identifier is one of the ways. As stated in the post, you can also use the "Other versions" control, use the navigation links, use search engines, etc.

  4. thomas says:

    Why 150, 141? why not 2013, 2010, 2007, etc? You know, numbers that mean something to anyone remotely familiar with Exchange.

  5. Bharat Suneja [MSFT] says:

    @Thomas: The 14x and 15x reflect internal version numbers. Thanks for the feedback – it'll be a consideration as URL formats are reviewed.

  6. TeamTerry says:

    So… our links are still broken…

    Thanks Microsoft… thanks…

    *sarcasm*

  7. Not happy says:

    The links are still broken. Are we supposed to be impressed by this announcment? We now need to manually add some esoteric 141 and 150 to the end of each reference now. Only in the world of Microsoft would this be a solution. To everyone else this is a massive failure.

  8. Andrew T. R. says:

    Larry Moe and Curly are running the show at Microsoft. Notice how every single comment is negative on this blog. As if over 120 negative comments in the first blog weren't enough. Count this one as another negative vote. This is not an acceptable solution.

  9. Davis says:

    So, basically, it took three months to get the official response of "tough, deal with it"? That's some serious organisational paralysis.

  10. Maybe it's just me, but I can live with the current situation. I work with many versions of Exchange and usually use Google to navigate to a Help topic. I don't mind to choose 2010 or 2007 from the version menu to navigate to the right topic.

    And also I rather have the documentation team working on the huge amount of lacking Exchange 2013 documentation than to put effort in cosmetic changes.

  11. Mark says:

    Let me get this straight: you string us along for 3 months and in the end, all we get is a few lame paragraphs with 'sorry, this is how it is?' No explanation?

    Has anyone been listening?

  12. Frank says:

    Unbelievable, it took you 3 months just to say 'we won't change things back'. Great way to listen to your customers….

  13. soder says:

    Wonderfully arrogant "solution", bravo.

  14. John says:

    "Interestingly, we didn’t get any negative feedback, or really any feedback at all the previous time we made this switch, when we moved from Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2010. One could speculate as to why the previous switch wasn’t painful, but this one was, but the main point is — this last switch was."

    The above proves you've lost your connection with reality completely. If you even don't know why we were against it. Let me repeat: because you changed the url's at a moment when nobody of your existing customers could use Exchange 2013 due to the lack of coexistence support. Even now it still isn't! Wonderful way to launch a new product version.

  15. That's why we all love Microsoft says:

    1st: They are breaking it.

    2nd: They are listening to us. And yes, there were unforseeable problems like Thanksgiving, stakeholders, XMas and so forth.

    3rd: They ignored the input.

    4th: They waited long enough.

    5th: They are telling us "now it's too late to revert".

    My 2p: Nobody is using 2013. Big companies maybe never will (can't see any reason to jump onto another piece of beta software lacking even rudimental documentation). Having 2013 "documentation" as the "standard" is nonsense.

    On the plus side: I expected them to simply ignore us instead of telling us "No!".

  16. Brandon Thomas says:

    Obviously nobody at Microsoft has been listening to us.

  17. Not a cry baby says:

    You guys, those who are commenting on this post, whine way too much over something so small.  We are reading all your comments and laughing about you in the office.  Thanks for the laughs.  Keep up the great work MSFT Exchange team.

  18. Not Bothered says:

    MSFT please do not let all these upset people deter you, it is not hard to go to an article you want and then take 1 second to click the version drop down menu. Its not that big of a deal. Keep Calm Exchange On!

  19. Ryan B says:

    @Not a cry baby

    "I have two books – that still sell over 50 copies a quarter each even against technologies a decade old – one against 2003 and one against 2007 – and all the URLs are invalid in those books. I have hundreds of blog postings where the URLs are invalid. I have hundreds of print magazine and online magazine articles where the URLs are invalid."

    You are laughing over that? Sounds like Michael B. presented a real-life, great case-scenario of how this news is affecting his life and the lives of the tens of thousands (???) of readers that have purchased his material. How is that funny to you? Sounds like a LOT of not-funny to me.

  20. Mel says:

    Microsoft lied to us. They promised a fix and now they are doing nothing. This stinks.nthanks for nothing Microsoft.

  21. ABCFED says:

    Not happy with this resolution. This is not a solution. URL links still do not work correctly, display content is not found for existing links that previously worked, the drop down version selection box does not always work,, and adding the 14or 15 suffix to the end of the URL does not always work either. Print publication references no,longer work and searching google/bing does not display the correct results

    You could not have screwed things up more. Since November it has truly been a cluster %#^! Trying to find info.

    The only one this solution benefits is Microsoft who now is refusing to spend any more effort cleaning up the mess. This has a negative impact on everyone else.

  22. Michael Sams says:

    Great job.

    1. You break things that were working great.

    2. You then tactfully delay responding to the mounting criticism by passing the buck to "stakeholders" and "holiday delays".

    3. You come up with kludgy manual methods to now find data.

    4. After 4 months of delay tactics, you finally announce that you won't fix anything.

    5. More complaints. More ignore.

    Brilliant! So, who's getting the bonus at Microsoft for executing this stunning plan?

  23. No says:

    Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

  24. stewart.simpson@atos.net says:

    I really wish you would reconsider. This does not appear to be a solution or resolution for anyone other than the Exchange team, which now apparently doesn't have to fix the mess they made in the first place. The long delay in announcing that nothing will change was also not cool. As Exchange administrators, we deserve better than this decision, really.

    Is this decision now set in stone and nothing will change it?

  25. Huh??? says:

    I don't know which drunken vagrant you employed to come up with this half-baked ill-thought out nonsense, but can you please fire them and revert the URLs back, and maybe employ someone competent in your quality control department? Too many f*** ups from Exchange group of late and it's getting really tiresome.

  26. R Taylor says:

    I notice that short URL links do not work anymore at all. What is the plan (if any) to bring back those URL links? Can we at least get a landing page with a redirection to the new content?

  27. Bharat Suneja [MSFT] says:

    @R Taylor: Can you provide examples of which short URLs? Are they the ones in the short URLs post (aka.ms/exchangeurls)?

  28. Really? says:

    The big news was to announce that nothing will change? Screw you Microsoft. How dare you spit on the very teachers, authors, students, and trainers that promote your very product. I have over 400 evernote htp links that are directly tied to Exchange material. All are invalid now because someone screwed the pooch at Microsoft. To whomever the genius that came up with this asinine plan —– quit. Go somewhere else and cause problems for other people. Please. Do us all a favor. Exchange would be much better off without you as a team member destroying everything. Screw you.

  29. Peter says:

    I can live with the version as part of the URL, but using the internal version number?, come on!

    How about using the product name. No one outside of MS calls Exchange 2010, "Exchange 14.1".

  30. Andrew says:

    I'm confused. So, we need to put "(EXCHG.141)" in the URL is we are referring to Exchange 2010, even though we may not be running SP1? So, if our version of Exchange server shows as "14.2" or "14.3" in the EMC, we need to remember to type the URL in as if we were referencing Exchange 2010 with SP1?

    Terrible, terrible idea. The URLs should be based on well-known version numbers, not code-references. What happens when Exchange 2013 gets a SP update? Do we need to change all the URL links to then point to "(EXCHG.151)"?

    You could not have picked a more confusing method to display critical information. Please have it at least make some sense.

  31. Greg Manners says:

    This makes no sense. What happens if:

    1. I am looking for a reference regarding Exchange 2010 RTM. Do I still need to put "141" or will "140" also work?

    2. I am looking for an Exchange 2010 SP2-specific feature. Do I still use "141"? What about the new SP3? Do I put in "143" or do I still use "141"?

    3. There are various Rollup/CU releases? For example, Exchange 2010 SP2, Rollup4v3. Do I put "141" in the url, or do I put "142.43"?

    4. The first SP for Exchange 2013 comes out. Do we then change the url to go to "151"?

    Etc.

    This is so incredibly crazy. Geeks, not common sense designed this numbering scheme. Can't we just refer to things the way normal people would. Please make the url for Exchange 2010 = "EXCHG.2010" and Exchange 2013 = "EXCHG.2013"

  32. Bharat Suneja [MSFT] says:

    @Greg Manners:

    • – Exchange 2010 content is published in a single branch – 141. Generally, service pack content is not published separately, although there may be specific topics in the content that address new services packs – for example, topics like What’s New in Exchange
      2010 SP2.

    • – Exchange 2010 content is published in EXCHG.150

    • – Going forward, this should become less relevant because you won’t be seeing versionless URLs. I posted the suggestion to add (EXCHG.141) or (EXCHG.150) to help customers discover content during the switchover (when some customers reported that the
      Other Versions control was not available on each page, or when they encountered a "Page not found" error for a topic). It’s much easier to use the
      Other Versions control on each page.

    Thanks for the suggestion to use major Exchange versions (2010, 2013) in the URL instead of 141, 150 – passing it on the team for consideration.

  33. Bharat Suneja [MSFT] says:

    @Andrew, @Peter: Thanks for the feedback on version identifier – please see my response to Greg above.

  34. Julio says:

    Why i was just speaking to a customer the other day and I said, "Hey there Joe. Let's go implement us some Exchange 141 today!" Joe, of course replied back with, "I think you mean Exchange 150, because 141 is the older version." I said, "Joe, you wacky guy. You're right. Let's set up Exchange Server 150!"

    Or maybe Joe looked at me and said, "What is Exchange 141? Never heard of it."

    Glad most of the URLs are fixed now. It is a very stupid numbering scheme, but at least things are starting to work again. PLEASE do not EVER change the URLs or do ANYTHING like this ever again. Thank you.

  35. MMM says:

    Finally things are starting to work again and no "content not found" errors today! This url change was about as successful as the latest Surface Pro launch or the version 3 RU4 that kept getting re-relased (Successful in this case meaning dismal failure of process). Took four months too long to fix, but at least it's working now. Kudos to whomever was assigned the job of fixing this massive screwup, much appreciated your efforts. Bharat, you're awesome!

  36. Bharat Suneja [MSFT] says:

    @MMM: Thanks for the feedback! Glad to know it's working, no page not found errors et al.

  37. Tommy says:

    I do not like the 141 and 150 designations. They are meaningless. Change to something humans can understand. We are all currently running Exchange 2010 version 14.2, so the numbering scheme you have come up with is wrong already. Soon it will be 14.3, but we still need to locate documentation using 14.1? Come on. That's lame.

    I do not have a clue what was in the mind of the person who authorized this change, but agree with the other posters, fire that guy/gal.

  38. J Benner says:

    In your rush to promote Exchange 2013, you totally @#$%@#ed up Exchange 2007 and 2010 references. It is a shame it has taken this long (what is it now, 4 months later?) to fix the F-up.

    I couldn't give a rats ass about Exchange 2013. You should never have done this.

  39. R. T. M. (Why do you need to know my name?) says:

    Sucky McSuck Suck. That is what finding Ex2k10 references has been lately. Today, surprisingly, I find that the links that have been broken for the past year now seem to mostly work. I don't know what to say to the team, but wow, what a drag this has been. Thanks for the update.

  40. Bharat Suneja [MSFT] says:

    @J Benner: Sorry you're having trouble finding content. If there are specific topics you can't find or get a "page not found" error for, please let us know!

    Note, there has been no change to Exchange 2007 URLs.

  41. Bharat Suneja [MSFT] says:

    @Tommy: EXCHG.141 is the content version – where 14 maps to Exchange 2010. However, there are no separate versions of documentation for SP1, SP2 or SP3. As posted earlier, there are specific topics like "What's New in Exchange 2010 SP1/SP2/SP3" in Exchange 2010 documentation.

    You shouldn't need to remember these version numbers. Adding version string to the URLs was suggested as a temporary workaround due to some transient issues.

    If you reach an Exchange 2013 topic, you can use the Other Versions drop-down to reach the Exchange 2010 version. If an Exchange 2013 version of the topic doesn't exist, it should automatically redirect you to the Exchange 2010 version. You can also use the navigation bar or search control.

  42. Steve says:

    This thread just cracks me up. This is a mess though, MS picked the wrong way todo this. Between all the blog urls and saved links, this is truly a disservice.

  43. Bruce Ellefritz says:

    I learned long ago when doing searches in Bing or in TechNet search to always start the keywords with Exchange 2010.  The vast majority of the time I find what I want on the first pass.  References to which RU pack the information is relevant for would be an additional help if that topic had been modified in the RU pack.

  44. Bharat Suneja [MSFT] says:

    @Bruce Ellefritz: Generally content is not RU-specific. You can check the date when a topic is last modified.

    If a change in functionality is added in an RU or a functionality relies on specific RU (which doesn't happen often), it should be mentioned in the topic.

  45. Bharat Suneja [MSFT] says:

    @Steve:  URLs for this blog have not changed – the URLs for blog posts that worked with our previous domain (msexchangeteam.com) continue to work after the move to TechNet. In fact, this blog is still accessible using that domain.

  46. Bob Hyatt says:

    @Bharat Suneja [MSFT]  What Steve is talking about is if you hit an older blog post, it most often now goes to the wrong place or a place that no longer makes sense for the topic it was originally written for.  Go to a 2010 era blog post.  See how many links inside the blog post now go to 2013 era links.  See how many links no longer work.

Comments are closed.