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Understanding Recipients

 

Applies to: Exchange Server 2007 SP3, Exchange Server 2007 SP2, Exchange Server 2007 SP1, Exchange Server 2007

Topic Last Modified: 2008-03-07

The people and resources that send and receive messages are the core of any messaging and collaboration system. In an Exchange Server organization, these people and resources are referred to as recipients. A recipient is any mail-enabled object in the Active Directory directory service to which Exchange can deliver or route messages. This topic discusses the recipient types that are supported in Microsoft Exchange Server 2007.

Previous versions of Exchange used several recipient types, but it was not easy to determine the exact type of a specific recipient. For example, a mail-enabled user and a mailbox user appeared identical in Active Directory Users and Computers. To determine the specific recipient type, you sometimes had to open and inspect the property pages of a user. It was even more difficult to differentiate between mailboxes used for scheduling resources and user mailboxes because there was no visual indication of the difference.

Exchange 2007 resolves this problem by defining several explicit recipient types. Each recipient type is represented by a unique icon in the Exchange Management Console and a unique name in the RecipientTypeDetails property in the Exchange Management Shell. The use of explicit recipient types has the following benefits:

  • At a glance, you can differentiate between various recipient types.
  • You can search, sort, and filter by each recipient type.
  • It is easier to perform bulk management operations for each recipient type.
  • The Exchange Management Console uses the recipient types to render different property pages. For example, the resource capacity is displayed for a conference room mailbox, but is not present for a user mailbox.

Table 1 lists the available recipient types in Exchange 2007. All these recipient types are discussed in more detail later in this topic.

Table 1   Exchange 2007 recipient types

Recipient type Description

User mailbox

A mailbox that is assigned to an individual user in your Exchange organization. It typically contains messages, calendar items, contacts, tasks, documents, and other important business data.

Linked mailbox

A mailbox that is assigned to an individual user in a separate, trusted forest.

Shared mailbox

A mailbox that is not primarily associated with a single user and is generally configured to allow logon access for multiple users.

Legacy mailbox

A mailbox that resides on a server running Exchange Server 2003 or Exchange 2000 Server.

Room mailbox

A resource mailbox that is assigned to a meeting location, such as a conference room, auditorium, or training room. Room mailboxes can be included as resources in meeting requests, providing a simple and efficient way of organizing meetings for your users.

Equipment mailbox

A resource mailbox that is assigned to a non-location specific resource, such as a portable computer projector, microphone, or a company car. Equipment mailboxes can be included as resources in meeting requests, providing a simple and efficient way for users to use resources.

Mail contact

A mail-enabled Active Directory contact that contains information about people or organizations that exist outside an Exchange organization. Each mail contact has an external e-mail address. All messages sent to the mail contact are routed to this external e-mail address.

Mail forest contact

A mail contact that represents a recipient object from another forest. Mail forest contacts are typically created by Microsoft Identity Integration Server (MIIS) synchronization.

importantImportant:
Mail forest contacts are read-only recipient objects that are updated only through MIIS or similar custom synchronization. You cannot remove or modify a mail forest contact by using the Exchange Management Console or the Exchange Management Shell.

Mail user

A mail-enabled Active Directory user that represents a user outside the Exchange organization. Each mail user has an external e-mail address to which all messages sent to the mail user are routed.

A mail user is similar to a mail contact, except that a mail user has Active Directory logon credentials and can access resources.

Mail-enabled universal distribution group

A mail-enabled Active Directory distribution group object that can be used only to distribute messages to a group of recipients.

Mail-enabled universal security group

A mail-enabled Active Directory security group object that can be used to grant access permissions to resources in Active Directory, and can also be used to distribute messages.

Mail-enabled non-universal group

A mail-enabled Active Directory global or local group object. Mail-enabled non-universal groups are de-emphasized in Exchange 2007 and can exist only if they were migrated from previous versions of Exchange. You cannot use Exchange 2007 to create new non-universal distribution groups.

Dynamic distribution group

A distribution group that uses recipient filters and conditions to derive its membership at the time messages are sent.

Mail-enabled public folder

An Exchange public folder that is configured to receive messages.

Microsoft Exchange Recipient

The Microsoft Exchange recipient is a special recipient object that provides a unified and well-known message sender that differentiates system-generated messages from other messages. It replaces the “System Administrator” sender that was used for system-generated messages in earlier versions of Microsoft Exchange Server.

Mailboxes are the most common recipient type used by information workers in an Exchange organization. Each mailbox is associated with an Active Directory user account. The user can use the mailbox to send and receive messages, and to store messages, appointments, tasks, notes, and documents. It is the primary messaging and collaboration tool for the users in your Exchange organization.

Each mailbox consists of an Active Directory user and the mailbox data that is stored in the Exchange mailbox database (Figure 1). All configuration data for the mailbox is stored in the Exchange attributes of the Active Directory user object. The mailbox database contains the actual data that is in the mailbox associated with the user account.

importantImportant:
When you create a mailbox for a new or existing user, the Exchange attributes that are required for a mailbox are added to the user object in Active Directory. The associated mailbox data is not created until the mailbox either receives a message or the user logs on to it.
Parts that make up a mailbox
warningWarning:
If you remove a mailbox, the mailbox data that is stored in the Exchange mailbox database is marked for deletion and the associated user account is also deleted from Active Directory. To retain the user account and delete only the mailbox data, you must disable the mailbox.

Exchange 2007 supports the following mailbox types:

  • User mailbox   User mailboxes are assigned to individual users in your Exchange organization. User mailboxes provide your users with a rich collaboration platform. They can send and receive messages, manage their contacts, schedule meetings, and maintain a task list. Users can also have voice mail messages delivered to their mailboxes. User mailboxes are the most commonly used mailbox type, and it is typically the mailbox type that is assigned to users in your organization.
  • Linked mailbox   Linked mailboxes are mailboxes that are accessed by users in a separate, trusted forest. Linked mailboxes may be necessary for organizations that choose to deploy Exchange in a resource forest. The resource forest scenario allows an organization to centralize Exchange in a single forest, while allowing access to the Exchange organization with user accounts in one or more trusted forests. For more information about deploying Exchange in a resource forest topology, see the following topics:
    As stated in the "Mailbox Components" section earlier in this topic, every mailbox must have a user account associated with it. However, the user account that will access the linked mailbox does not exist in the forest where Exchange is deployed. Therefore, a disabled user account that exists in the same forest as Exchange is associated with each linked mailbox. Figure 2 shows the relationship between the linked user account that will be used to access the linked mailbox and the disabled user account in the Exchange resource forest that is associated with the linked mailbox.
    Complex Exchange Organization with Resource Forest
  • Shared mailbox   Shared mailboxes are mailboxes that are not primarily associated with individual users and are generally configured to allow logon access for multiple users.
    Although it is possible to grant additional users the logon rights to any mailbox type, shared mailboxes are dedicated for this functionality. The Active Directory user that is associated with a shared mailbox must be a disabled account. After a shared mailbox is created by using the command line in the Exchange Management Shell, you must grant permissions to all users that require access to the shared mailbox.
    importantImportant:
    You can only use the Exchange Management Shell to manage shared mailboxes. Managing includes tasks such as creating, removing, enabling, disabling, and so on. After a shared mailbox has been created, you can use the Exchange Management Console to do some tasks such as viewing, modifying or moving the shared mailboxes. We recommend that you use resource mailboxes or Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server portals for collaboration instead of shared mailboxes. To learn more about converting a shared mailbox to a resource mailbox, see How to Convert a Mailbox.
  • Legacy mailbox   Legacy mailboxes are mailboxes that reside on servers running Exchange 2003 or Exchange 2000. You can manage legacy mailboxes by using the Exchange Management Console or the Exchange Management Shell. However, not all Exchange 2007 features will apply to these mailboxes.
    For more information about using Exchange 2007 with Exchange 2003 or Exchange 2000, see Coexisting with Exchange Server 2003 and Exchange 2000 Server.
  • Room and equipment mailbox   Resource mailboxes are special mailboxes that are designed to be used for scheduling resources. Like all mailbox types, a resource mailbox has an associated Active Directory user account, but it must be a disabled account.
    There are two types of resource mailboxes available in Exchange 2007:
    • Room mailboxes   These are resource mailboxes that are assigned to meeting locations, such as conference rooms, auditoriums, and training rooms.
    • Equipment mailboxes   These are resource mailboxes that are assigned to non-location specific resources, such as portable computer projectors, microphones, or company cars.
    You can include both types of resource mailboxes as resources in meeting requests, providing a simple and efficient way to utilize resources for your users. You can configure resource mailboxes to automatically process incoming meeting requests based on the resource booking policies that are defined by the resource owners. For example, you can configure a conference room to automatically accept incoming meeting requests except recurring meetings, which can be subject to approval by the resource owner. To learn more about using resource mailboxes, see Managing Resource Scheduling.

To help provide a rich collaboration platform for mailbox users, Exchange 2007 includes the following new and improved mailbox features:

  • Unified Messaging   Exchange 2007 introduces Unified Messaging (UM) for mailbox users. UM combines voice messaging, fax, and e-mail messaging into a single messaging infrastructure. UM puts all e-mail, voice, and fax messages into Exchange 2007 mailboxes that can be accessed from a variety of devices. After Exchange 2007 UM servers have been deployed on the network, users can access their messages from a telephone by using Microsoft Outlook Voice Access, from a mobile device, or from the computer of a user who is running Microsoft Windows XP. To learn more about UM in Exchange 2007, see New Unified Messaging Functionality.
  • New and improved client functionality   Exchange 2007 provides new and improved ways for users to access their mailboxes. To learn more about new and improved client features, see New Client Functionality.
  • Information worker functionality   Exchange 2007 includes several feature and functionality improvements in the information worker area. These include improvements and enhancements to calendaring, resource management, the Out of Office feature, and messaging records management (MRM). To learn more about the new information worker features, see New Information Worker Functionality.

Mailboxes are created in mailbox databases on Exchange servers that have the Mailbox server role installed. To help provide a reliable and effective platform for your mailbox users, detailed planning for the deployment of Mailbox servers and databases is essential. To learn more about planning for Mailbox servers and databases, see the following topics:

Distribution groups are mail-enabled Active Directory group objects that are primarily used for distributing messages to multiple recipients. Any recipient type can be a member of a distribution group.

importantImportant:
It is important to note the terminology differences between Active Directory and Exchange 2007. In Active Directory, a distribution group refers to any group that does not have a security context, whether it is mail-enabled or not. In contrast, in Exchange 2007, all mail-enabled groups are referred to as distribution groups, whether they have a security context or not.

Exchange 2007 supports the following types of distribution groups:

  • Mail-enabled universal distribution groups   These are Active Directory distribution group objects that are mail-enabled. They can be used only to distribute messages to a group of recipients.
  • Mail-enabled universal security groups   These are Active Directory security group objects that are mail-enabled. They can be used to grant access permissions to resources in Active Directory and can also be used to distribute messages.
  • Mail-enabled non-universal groups   These are Active Directory global or local group objects that are mail-enabled. In Exchange 2007, you can create or mail-enable only universal distribution groups. You may have mail-enabled groups that were migrated from previous versions of Exchange that are not universal groups. These groups can still be managed by using the Exchange Management Console or the Exchange Management Shell.
    noteNote:
    To convert a domain-local or a global group to a universal group, you can use the Set-Group cmdlet in the Exchange Management Shell. For more information, see Set-Group.

Dynamic distribution groups (known as query-based distribution groups in Exchange 2003) are distribution groups whose membership is based on specific recipient filters rather than a defined set of recipients.

Unlike regular distribution groups, the membership list for dynamic distribution groups is calculated each time a message is sent to them, based on the filters and conditions that you specify. When an e-mail message is sent to a dynamic distribution group, it is delivered to all recipients in the organization that match the criteria defined for that dynamic distribution group.

importantImportant:
A dynamic distribution group includes any recipient in Active Directory that has attributes that match the group's filter at the time a message is sent. If a recipient's properties are modified to match the group's filter, that recipient could inadvertently become a group member and start receiving messages that are sent to the dynamic distribution group. Well-defined, consistent account provisioning processes can reduce the chances of this issue occurring.

To help you create recipient filters for dynamic distribution groups, Exchange 2007 provides precanned filters. A precanned filter is a commonly used Exchange 2007 filter that you can use to meet a variety of recipient-filtering criteria. You can use these filters to specify the recipient types that you want to include in a dynamic distribution group. In addition, you can also specify a list of conditions that the recipients must meet. You can create precanned conditions based on the following properties:

  • Custom attributes 1–15
  • State or province
  • Company
  • Department

You can also specify conditions based on recipient properties other than those previously listed. To do this, you must use the Exchange Management Shell to create a custom query for the dynamic distribution group. Keep in mind that the filter and condition settings for dynamic distribution groups that have custom recipient filters can be managed only by using the Exchange Management Shell. For an example of how to create a dynamic distribution group by using a custom query, see How to Create a New Dynamic Distribution Group.

noteNote:
In the Exchange Management Console, you use the Distribution Group node under Recipient Configuration to manage dynamic distribution groups. There is not a separate node for dynamic distribution groups.

Mail contacts typically contain information about people or organizations that exist outside your Exchange organization. Mail contacts can appear in the global address list (GAL) and other address lists, and can be added as members to distribution groups. Each contact has an external e-mail address, and all e-mail messages that are sent to a contact are automatically forwarded to that address.

Exchange 2007 supports the following types of mail contacts:

  • Mail contacts   These are mail-enabled Active Directory directory service contacts that contain information about people or organizations that exist outside your Exchange organization.
  • Mail forest contacts   These represent recipient objects from another forest. These contacts are typically created by MIIS synchronization. Mail forest contacts are read-only recipient objects that can be updated or removed only by means of synchronization. You cannot use Exchange management interfaces to modify or remove a mail forest contact.

Contacts are ideal for representing people external to your Exchange organization who do not need access to any internal resources.

Mail users are similar to mail contacts. Both have external e-mail addresses, both contain information about people outside your Exchange organization, and both can be displayed in the GAL and other address lists. However, unlike a mail contact, mail users have Active Directory logon credentials and can access resources to which they are granted permission.

If a person external to your organization requires access to resources on your network, you should create a mail user instead of a mail contact. For example, you may want to create mail users for short-term consultants who require access to your server infrastructure, but who will use their own external e-mail addresses.

Another scenario is to create mail users in your organization for whom you do not want to maintain an Exchange mailbox. For example, after an acquisition, the acquired company may maintain their separate messaging infrastructure, but may also need access to resources on your network. For those users, you may want to create mail users instead of mailbox users.

noteNote:
In the Exchange Management Console, you use the Mail Contact node under Recipient Configuration to manage mail users. There is not a separate node for mail users.

Public folders are intended to serve as a repository for information that is shared among many users. Mail-enabling a public folder provides an extra level of functionality to users. In addition to being able to post messages to the folder, users can send e-mail messages to, and sometimes receive e-mail messages from, the public folder. Each mail-enabled folder has an object in Active Directory that stores its e-mail address, address book name, and other mail-related attributes.

You can manage public folders by using either the Exchange Management Shell or the Public Folder Management Console. To access the Public Folder Management Console, click the Toolbox node in the Exchange Management Console. For more information about managing mail-enabled public folders, see How to View or Configure the Settings of Mail-Enabled Public Folders.

noteNote:
To use the Public Folder Management Console to manage public folders, you must have Exchange Server Service Pack 1 (SP1) installed.

The Microsoft Exchange recipient is a special recipient object that provides a unified and well-known message sender that differentiates system-generated messages from other messages. It replaces the “System Administrator” sender that was used for system-generated messages in earlier versions of Microsoft Exchange Server.

The Microsoft Exchange recipient isn't a typical recipient object, such as a mailbox, mail user, or mail contact. It isn't managed by using the typical recipient tools. However, you can use the Set-OrganizationConfig cmdlet in the Exchange Management Shell to configure the Microsoft Exchange recipient. For more information about managing the Microsoft Exchange Recipient, see Managing the Microsoft Exchange Recipient.

noteNote:
When system-generated messages are sent to an external sender, the Microsoft Exchange recipient is not used as the sender of the message. Instead, the e-mail address that is specified by the ExternalPostmasterAddress parameter in the Set-TransportServer cmdlet is used. For more information about the external postmaster address, see Managing the External Postmaster Address.
To ensure that you are reading the most up-to-date information and to find additional Exchange Server 2007 documentation, visit the Exchange Server TechCenter.
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