Supported Active Directory environments for Microsoft Exchange

This posting is ~4 years years old. You should keep this in mind. IT is a short living business. This information might be outdated.

It is time for some words of wisdom, in regard to Exchange and the supported Active Directory environments. It is the same as with the supported. NET Framework releases: Latest release does not automatically mean “supported”.

To be honest: I nearly nuked a customer environment with ~ 300 users yesterday by preparing the domain for the first Windows Server 2019 Domain Controller.

First things first: Everything is fine! I did not prepared to forest schema for Windows Server 2019.

The support for Windows Server 2008 R2 comes to an end and some customers are still running it. Like my customer yesterday. Some application servers are still on 2008 R2… and the Domain Controllers. The customer is also running Exchange 2013 on Windows Server 2012 R2.

The customer has decided to go to Windows Server 2019 wherever possible. This includes file servers, application servers, and the Domain Controllers. On of the first steps was the deployment of Active Directory-Based Activation. The AD schema needs to be prepared for this and I decided to prepare the schema for Windows Server 2019. I already copied the adprep folder from the Server 2019 ISO and openened a PowerShell. And then I paused. Something felt odd. I wanted to take a look at the Exchange Server supportability matrix.

Exchange 2013 does NOT supported Windows Server 2019 Domain Controllers! Uhh… that was unexpected.

Lessons learned

Always check the Exchange Server supportability matrix. Always! Regardless if it’s because of .NET Framework, Active Directory, Outlook Clients etc. Just check it every time you plan to change something in your environment.

Especially in regard to Microsoft Exchange “newer” does not automatically mean “supported”. Most times the opposite is true.

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Patrick Terlisten
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3 thoughts on “Supported Active Directory environments for Microsoft Exchange

  1. prab

    I am running Exchange 2013 CU21 on Windows Server 2012 R2 Domain Controllers.I am in the process of upgrading to Windows Server 2019. I just introduced Windows Server 2019 as a domain controller keeping the domain and forest functional level at Windows Server 2012 R2. So far I see no issue with Exchange 2013. End goal is to replace all DCs with Windows Server 2019 and migrate Exchange 2013 to Exchange 2019.



  2. Ampli

    Helo, many thanks for this article and @prab for this comment.

    We have similar setup, Exchange 2013 with 2012R2 domain controllers and we planed upgrade to 2019 DC. But it seems unsupported. According to this ( ) we could have some 2019 DC, if we had at least one 2016/2012 writable DC in domain. But iťs still unsupported :(

    So we probably add some 2016 DC before we can migrate do Exchange 2019.

  3. Garry Burns

    With regard to the Supportability Matrix, I would read that as Server 2019 Domain Controllers are NOT supported but not necessarily that the Schema/Configuration has to be 2012 R2/2016.

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