Exchange Server SE set to debut just before 2019 version breathes its last

Administrators, start your engines

Microsoft has finally broken its silence on the fate of on-premises Exchange, and administrators will need to move quickly to keep their servers supported.

Exchange Server 2016 and 2019 are due to drop out of support on October 14, 2025. In a post yesterday, Microsoft confirmed there would be no last-minute reprieve for either. Instead, a shiny new subscription edition, Exchange Server SE, will debut "early in the third quarter of calendar year 2025."

Just before Exchange 2019 and 2016 are scheduled to breathe their last.

Microsoft plans one last Cumulative Update (CU) for Exchange Server 2019 later in 2024; the first CU for Exchange SE will turn up at the end of 2025. The company has stressed that, on release, Exchange SE will be code equivalent ("the same exact code") as Exchange Server 2019 CU15, with the exception of a change in wording in the license agreement and version number.

The licensing model will be the same as Sharepoint Server Subscription edition, which requires subscription licenses or licenses with active Software Assurance for server and user licenses.

While administrators will welcome news after a lengthy silence from Microsoft, the pace at which they must upgrade is rapid. In September 2020, Microsoft said the next version of the server would appear in the second half of 2021. However, in 2022, after some high-profile security incidents, the company elected to delay the upgrade.

Two years later, Microsoft is preparing the starting pistol for administrators. If a customer is running Exchange Server 2016, Microsoft recommends moving to 2019 prior to SE if the customer wants to remain on-premises. According to Microsoft, going from Exchange Server 2019 to SE will be "identical to installing a CU."

However, Scott Schnoll, Microsoft Product Marketing Manager for Exchange Online and Exchange Server, told users: "A legacy upgrade from Exchange 2016 to Exchange Server SE is possible and supported."

"We recommend moving to Exchange 2019 now, but the choice is yours."

Schnoll also directed customers wondering about costs to talk to their Microsoft account team for more information. At the time of writing, Microsoft's product terms cover Exchange Server 2019 but not SE. The terms are due for an update, according to Schnoll.

One customer, while pleased to see updates and new features, was not so delighted by the subscription model, saying: "The timing lines up, well, pretty poorly. 2019 goes out of support in Q3 of 2025 and yet this is going to be released, aspirationally, in early Q3. Let's hope it isn't as buggy as the recent March SU was."

Mary Jo Foley of Directions on Microsoft noted that the plan "doesn't give organizations much time to move to the coming Exchange Server SE release in Q3 2025."

As Foley said: "Ready, set, upgrade." ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like