Managing Outlook 2007 through Group Policies (Part 3)

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

Automatic Profile Configuration

Exchange Server 2007 with Outlook 2007 drastically increases the user experience when creating a profile through the Autodiscover feature. When a company has the proper certificates and web-services in place, a new user just needs to click on the Outlook 2007 icon and her/his data (Name and e-mail) will be filled out automatically. All the user needs to do is click on Next and Finish to start using Outlook. The entire process is shown in Figure 1 and Figure 2 below.


Figure 1


Figure 2

What if we can improve the user experience a little bit more? If instead of clicking on the Outlook icon, Next and Finish we can change the process to just a click on Outlook and start using it right way, it would be cool, right? So, when using Group Policies these steps should be followed:

  1. Expand Microsoft Office Outlook 2007

  2. Expand Tools | Account Settings

  3. Click on Exchange

  4. Double click on Automatically configure profile based on Active Directory Primary SMTP Address item

  5. The possible values are Not Configured, Enabled and Disabled. Let’s click on Enabled as shown in Figure 3


Figure 3

Now, in a workstation where the user has received the Group Policy, we can log on as a new user and make sure that the user has a mailbox enabled on Exchange Server. Then, double click on the Outlook 2007 icon, and that’s basically it. The user will now be able to access his/her mailbox without any special requirement.

By default, Outlook validates if the Windows Desktop Search 3.0 (or later) is installed. If it is not prompted, it will be automatically displayed. If your organization does not intend to install it at this point (or at least you want to avoid giving the end-user this decision during the first running of Outlook) we can use Group Policies. The following steps can be done to avoid that initial prompt:

  1. Expand Microsoft Office Outlook 2007

  2. Expand Tools | Options

  3. Expand Preferences

  4. Click on Search Options

  5. Double-Click on Prevent installation prompts when Windows Desktop Search component is not present item and click on Enabled

Outlook Auto Archive settings

After having installed Outlook for the first time, the end-user will receive an automatic message about AutoArchive. The AutoArchive settings are configured, by default, to run every 14 days and to inform the user when it runs. To configure the default AutoArchive settings, click on Tools, Options, Other tab, and click on the AutoArchive button. Figure 04 shows what will appear next.

Note:

The end-user is able to right click on any folder, click on Properties and a tab called AutoArchive will be displayed. A different Autoarchive configuration can then be done at folder level.


Figure 4

In order to manage those aspects related to the previous AutoArchive settings (such as Archive or delete old items settings Show archive folder in folder list setting and so forth) we can use the AutoArchive Settings item, which can be found in the following Group Policy path: Expand Tools / Options, expand Other item, click on AutoArchive and double click on the AutoArchive Settings item as shown in Figure 5.  We can use the same spot to disable AutoArchive by clicking on Disable.


Figure 5

If you are using another Archiving solution, you should disable AutoArchive to avoid any conflicts and missing information which could affect your current solution. To disable the end-user from using AutoArchive manually, we can double click on Disable File|Archive and the users will not be able to archive items from the File menu, as shown in Figure 6.


Figure 6

If we disable the AutoArchive feature, the option will disappear from Other tab that can be found on Outlook options, as shown in Figure 7.


Figure 7

Managing user’s abilities to manage permissions on Outlook folders…

By default in Outlook 2007, any user can right-click on any folder of its Mailbox and define permissions for users on the Global Address List. We can however change this default behavior using Group Policies, the option can be found by following this next path:

  1. Expand Microsoft Office Outlook 2007

  2. Expand Tools | Account Settings

  3. Click on Exchange

  4. Double click on Do not allow users to change permissions on folders item

  5. The possible options are Not Configured, Enabled or Disabled.

  6. Click on Enabled which will disable the end-user to change permissions

After applying group policy on the client computer, the end-user can click on the Properties of any folder and go on the Permissions tab. Here, they will receive an error message and the Permissions tab will appear like before but without a chance to change any value, as show in Figure 8.


Figure 8

Note:
This group policy does not change the current permissions.

Outlook balloons and Desktop Alert configuration

This is not common, but, I have seen some companies that want to define some default behavior for Outlook balloons and also the Desktop Alert configuration.

Outlook balloons will indicate certain messages to the end-user when a connection is lost with the Exchange Server or if the client is having RPC delays when communicating with the exchange server. This may indicate connection issues. Some companies have remote offices and poor bandwidth between those locations and Exchange Servers. These kind of balloons may create some unnecessary help desk calls from remote users. By using group policy we can manage the balloons to increase the time when that information will be displayed. The following are the two options that we have to manage in order to set up an Outlook balloon for a client:

  • Time before notifying of pending RPC via balloon

  • Time before notifying of pending RPC via notifications tray icon

The path for this configuration is Microsoft Outlook 2007 followed by the Outlook System Tray Icon.

Note:
Changes should be well documented and also remembered when you are troubleshooting an Outlook performance issue in machines that are affected by this Group Policy.

The second component of this section is the desktop Alert, which is the component that shows up every time a new message arrives on a user’s mailbox.  We can manage many aspects of the desktop alert, such as the duration of Desktop Alert in several scenarios (before fade, on mouse over, fade out), opacity (if we want it enabled or disabled). In order to change these settings, the following steps can be used. In this example we are going to disable the Desktop Alert in the current group policy, as follows:

  1. Expand Microsoft Office Outlook 2007

  2. Expand Tools | Options …

  3. Expand Preferences

  4. Expand E-mail Options

  5. Expand Advanced E-mail options

  6. Click on Desktop Alert

  7. Double click on Do not display New Mail alert for users and tick the Disable radio button

Using the previous setting, any new message which arrives in the user mailbox affected by the Group Policy will not be displayed through Desktop Alert feature.

Conclusion

In this final article of our series about Group Policy and Outlook 2007 we have seen how to configure automatic profile configuration for Outlook, Auto Archive settings, how to disable permissions on Outlook and Desktop Alert settings.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

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