Although Microsoft Outlook 2007 self configures when connecting to a user's Exchange Server mailbox, there are many other Outlook features that an administrator may want to enable or disable. One way to ensure that Outlook is configured correctly on network workstations is to deploy a customized version in which settings have been configured using the Office Customization Tool (OCT). This tip shows you how to pre-configure Microsoft Outlook 2007 using the OCT.
It's important to note that not every copy of Microsoft Office 2007 includes the Office Customization Tool. From what I can tell, this tool isn't included in retail copies of Office 2007, nor is it available in copies downloaded from MSDN or TechNet. Double-check that your copy of Microsoft Office 2007 includes the Office Customization Tool by looking for a folder named \Admin.
Launching the Office Customization Tool is fairly simple. To do so, follow these steps:
- Insert the Microsoft Office 2007 installation media.
- Open a Command Prompt window and browse to the folder containing the Setup.exe file.
- Enter the SETUP/ADMIN command.
Upon opening the tool, you'll see that it's divided into four separate sections: Setup, Features, Additional Content and Outlook. Outlook customization features allow you to modify a user's default Outlook profile, specify a user's Exchange settings, enable or disable cached Exchange mode or provide access to an additional mailbox. Each area is interesting and useful, but this article focuses solely on the Outlook section.
Customizing a user profile
If you choose to customize a user's default profile, the Office Customization Tool has four options:
Use an existing profile. Normally, this option will configure Microsoft Outlook to use the profile that already exists for the target user. If the user hasn't used Outlook before, this option will force Outlook to create a new default user profile.
Modify a profile. The Modify profile option tells Setup to apply any desired modifications to the currently existing Outlook profile. Again, if no profile currently exists, then one will be created.
Setup a new profile. As the name implies, this option prompts Setup to create a new Outlook profile. Existing profiles remain available to the end user.
Apply PRF. This option lets you import an existing Microsoft Outlook profile (PRF) -- even if it's from a previous version of Outlook -- and use it as a custom profile that's deployed to target workstations. Note: You can only use profiles from previous versions of Outlook if the profile contains only information related to MAPI settings.
You can configure the Office Customization Tool to customize Exchange settings for a user. This tool doesn't provide any custom settings by default, which means that the user is prompted to enter his account information (or automatic configuration is used) the first time he opens Outlook 2007.
If you choose to configure an Exchange Server connection, you must provide three pieces of information: a username, the name of an Exchange server and whether or not you want to overwrite the Exchange settings in the user's profile (if they exist).
If you decide to enter the Exchange settings, I recommend using the %USERNAME% environment variable in place of an actual username. That way, the profile can be used for multiple users. In most cases, you won't want to overwrite existing Exchange settings.
After making these customizations, save your changes by choosing Save from the file menu. This creates a file with the extension .MSP.
Once you've created an .MSP file, place it in your Office installation point's Updates folder, and Setup will automatically use it. If you are installing the tool from a CD, you can place the customization file on a network and enter the following command:
Creating a customization file provides you with a handy way to deploy pre-configured Microsoft Outlook 2007 for users' workstations. Full documentation for the Office Customization Tool is available. The Office Customization Tool also possesses other options not covered in this article. For more information, check out Microsoft's TechNet article on how to use the Office Customization Tool (OCT) to customize Microsoft Office 2007 installations.
About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, has previously received Microsoft's MVP award for Exchange Server, Windows Server and Internet Information Server (IIS). Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once responsible for the Department of Information Management at Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, Brien has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit Brien's personal website at www.brienposey.com.
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