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The High Availability and manageability improvements (some described in the blog announcing the preview version) that are being transferred from the cloud to Exchange 2016 are just one example of how Microsoft is using Office 365 to build more reliable and robust software.The provision of auto-expanding archive mailboxes (now available with Exchange Online) is another.As it turns out, auto-expanding archives and a number of other anticipated features have been removed from the software made available today to allow Microsoft to do more testing.Of course, installing a new version (or an update) of Exchange is not something that anyone with an ounce of sense rushes to do, even in a greenfield environment, so the time clock starts now for the planning exercises that should lead to a wave of deployments as people who want to stay on-premises and run older versions seek to get to a version that will be supported for the next decade.After what seems to have been a much calmer Technology Adoption Program (beta tests), Exchange 2016 passed all the required quality benchmarks to reach Release-to-Manufacturing (RTM) status on September 29.It's October, it's three years since the last version of Exchange Server was released, so it must be time for a new version.And so it is as Exchange 2016 makes its debut and becomes generally available to all who would like to install the new software.If Microsoft was asked why quality is higher, they might reply that it’s all due to better engineering practices.
You can argue that those RTM versions set a low bar because of some well-documented problems that were really only sorted out when the first service pack arrived.
It’s true that quality was a struggle in the early days of Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2013, but the signs are that the same is not true for Exchange 2016.
The first is that much of Exchange 2016 has been thoroughly exercised in the white heat of Exchange Online.
In saying this, it is important to realize that the core components such as the Information Store, Database Availability Group operations such as failovers, and Power Shell support which are important to receive the benefit of being used inside Exchange Online.
Of course, RTM is an archaic term dating back to the time when software was ceremoniously handed over by development to the folks who created copies of the distribution kit on floppy disks, then CDs, and latterly DVDs for delivery to customers.
Today, it’s more like “Release to the Internet” as most people will download a copy of Exchange 2016 from Microsoft to begin the task of testing the new software in operational conditions. [See a list of the Exchange Server generations below] I believe that Exchange 2016 is a high-quality release and is in better shape at this point than either Exchange 2010 or were.