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Customizing Outlook Installations

Archived content. No warranty is made as to technical accuracy. Content may contain URLs that were valid when originally published, but now link to sites or pages that no longer exist.

By Rick Varvel, Microsoft Consulting Services, Portland

AT A GLANCE

Key Point: An automated Microsoft Outlook installation improves the speed and accuracy of deployment to end-users.

Detail: High Task: Implementation

Article Section

What's There

Introduction

A customized install eliminates the need for users to enter extensive information.

Downloading Sample Installation Files

Instructions for opening and editing sample files.

Edit Files for Local Environment

Three files need share points and other local information added.

Customizing the Outlook Installation

Changing default options and choosing services.

Changing Settings

Making changes to registry settings.

Conclusion

Some companies following these procedures have reduced install time by 50 percent.

More Information

Additional resources.

Introduction

Creating unattended, customized Outlook installations can save system administrators and users both time and resources while reducing errors. With an attended installation, the user must respond to a series of prompts for user name, Microsoft Exchange server, path to specific files, etc. By using the tools provided in this article, system administrators can automate installation, create user profiles on the fly, and prevent users from inadvertently entering incorrect setup information.

This article—which provides procedures, attached files, and information on automating Outlook installations—is provided as a technical example and only knowledgeable personnel should follow the steps outlined. Microsoft recommends thoroughly testing customized installations prior to production use.

Downloading Sample Installation Files

Below is a self-extracting executable file with all the customizable installation files.

Click here to access outinst.exe

The 12 files downloaded are:

  • Chginbx.exe—a utility that changes the Exchange Inbox icon to the Outlook icon.

  • Fixreg95.reg—called by Win95 Regedit, this file modifies registry settings that control default Outlook settings available under Tools, Options in the menu.

  • FixregNT.reg—called by WinNT Regedit, this file modifies registry settings that control default Outlook settings available under Tools, Options in the menu.

  • Mapisvc.inf—the [Services] section of this file controls the "Available Information Services" list that appears when a user's profile is highlighted and the Add button clicked. It is used prevent users from adding services that your company does not support.

  • New_user.bat—the controlling bat file that calls the other files and installs Outlook.

  • Outlook.inf—tells Outlook which files to copy during setup.

  • Outlook.prf—determines the user profile configuration for e-mail server, mailbox, path to archive, PST files, etc.

  • Outlook.stf—controls settings for options, such as using Schedule Plus as the default calendar or deleting MS Mail files during the setup process.

  • Outlook95.dat—extracts the name of the currently logged in user from the environment (Windows 95 only) and substitutes it for the string "USERNAME" in Outlook.prf in the following four locations:

    DefaultArchiveFile=p:\username\private\exchange\archive.pst

    MailboxName=username

    PathToPersonalFolders=c:\My Documents\exchange\username.pst

    PathToPersonalAddressBook=c:\My Documents\exchange\username.pab

  • OutlookNT.dat—same as Outlook95.dat except it runs on NT workstation.

  • Windiff.exe—compares one file with another to see what changes have been made. Very useful for tracking changes to registry keys. For example, if you want to set "Display a notification message" to true, you could use Windiff to compare a before and after snapshot of the Outlook registry key to see what value actually changed.

  • Windiff.hlp—instructions for using Windiff.exe.

Edit Files for Local Environment

Since references to paths and servers refer to the author's environment, edit these files for your specific environment and installation point:

  • Outlook.stf—Use WordPad to edit this file, maintain tab spacing, and change the share point.

  • WinInstall DAT files—Remove references to the server \\Alex.

  • New_User.bat—Remove references to the server \\Alex.

The DAT files are for WinInstall, which is used to pull the username from the environment and plug it into the OUTLOOK.PRF file in place of the USERNAME string in four locations. WinInstall is a third-party product from Seagate Software. See http://index.img.seagatesoftware.com/WININSTALL/homepage/content.asp for more information on the product.

Customizing the Outlook Installation

Since companies are unlikely to want the same settings when installing Outlook, the below example on disabling options provides an illustration and steps that can be applied when changing other settings.

Warning: Changing registry settings can cause serious problems. Microsoft cannot guarantee that problems resulting from incorrectly changing settings can be solved.

Disabling Options

Customers usually want certain options disabled before deploying Outlook to users. For example, some customers may want to disable the option to mark comments with the user's name in a reply message, which is available in Tools, Options, Reading, Mark My Comments with: <value>. To do this, modify the Outlook.PRF file so the MarkMyComments section is set to "0" as follows:

; Section 3 - Default values for each service.
[Service1]
MarkMyComments=0
; Section 4 - Mapping for profile properties.  DO NOT MODIFY.
MarkMyComments=PT_BOOLEAN,0x0319
;	 -- A Boolean value indicating whether Outlook should mark comments
;	 in a reply message with the users name.

MarkMyComments is an example; any option can be modified as long as PT_BOOLEAN and hex values are accurate and the names are the same in Sections 3 and 4. Note that each of the settings accessible through the Tools, Options menu in the Outlook client is associated with values in the registry.

The majority of the settings correspond to one of the following data types (thanks to Ed Barnes, a Microsoft Support Engineer, who supplied the prefixes for Section 4 of the PRF file):

"0001e" = PT_STRING8
"000b" = PT_BOOLEAN
"0003" = PT_LONG

For example, the line "AllowCommaAsSeparator=PT_BOOLEAN,0x0350" in Outlook.PRF corresponds to "[HKEY_CURRENT_USER \Software \Microsoft \Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows Messaging Subsystem\Profiles\Microsoft Outlook\0a0d020000000000c000000000000046].

"000b0350"=hex:01,00" in the registry. The hex:01,00 setting indicates the selection is enabled. If it was disabled the settings would be hex:00,00.

Services

MAPISVC.INF contains a "[Services]" section that controls what appears in the Exchange services "Add Services to Profile" dialog. Edit this file to prevent users from adding certain services. In the example below, semicolons placed in front of Microsoft Mail, Internet Mail, and MSN hide those services from users.

  • MSEMS=Microsoft Exchange Server

  • CONTAB=Outlook Address Book

  • MSPST MS=Personal Folders

  • MSPST AB=Personal Address Book

  • ;MSFS=Microsoft Mail

  • ;IMAIL=Internet Mail

  • ;MSN=The Microsoft Network Online Service

Copy MAPISVC.INF to users' hard drives after Newprof runs because Newprof adds the lines back in by default. (For details on Newprof.exe, see the "More Information" section below.)

Changing Settings

Adding or modifying registry settings can have unforeseen effects. Whenever possible use administrative tools such as Control Panel or System Policy Editor to add or modify a Registry value entry. Always make a backup of the registry before making changes and modify settings by adding additional keys to Outlook.PRF rather than editing the registry directly.

Open the Outlook.PRF file to view the author's instructions and custom hexadecimal values. To find the value for a new setting, just save the registry key under:

 HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows Messaging 
 Subsystem\Profiles\0a0d020000000000c000000000000046

Then go into Outlook and make the desired change and save the subkey again. Use Windiff from the Microsoft Windows NT Resource Kit to compare before and after snapshot of the registry key. (See the "More Information" section below for details on this utility.) You should see the following values:

000b 0319   01 00
  • 000b indicates that it is a PT_BOOLEAN value in the PRF file.

  • 0319 is the hex value following the PT_BOOLEAN value in the PRF file.

  • 01 00 indicates that the value is checked (enabled), which is how the value is set in the Outlook Tools, Options section. A value of 00 00 would be unchecked.

Registry Settings

Two exceptions to the rule of only adding keys to the PRF files rather than to the registry itself are settings for CloseOriginalMessage and AllowCommaAsSeparator, which should be applied in a REG file at the end of setup. Because the registry locations are slightly different, you need separate REG files for Windows 95 and Windows NT (FIXREG95.REG or FIXREGNT.REG).

Use NTREGMON or REGMON to avoid having to compare before and after registry key settings. Some of the settings can change individual hex values (or flip bits) in the "Frame" section of the \Office Explorer key, where they can be difficult to track down because some hexadecimal strings are more than a page in length.

Note: Some values are not written to the registry until Outlook is closed.

The majority of any Outlook client customization will occur in one of four keys, which allows system administrators to focus on them when monitoring registry for changes that can improve performance. Outlook writes primarily to these keys:

  • [HKEY_CURRENT_USER \Software \Microsoft \Office \8.0\Common\General]

  • [HKEY_CURRENT_USER \Software \Microsoft \Office \8.0\Outlook\Options\General]

  • [HKEY_CURRENT_USER \Software \Microsoft \Office \8.0\Outlook\Options\Spelling]

  • [HKEY_CURRENT_USER \Software \Microsoft \Office \8.0\Outlook\Office Explorer]

Default Settings

To perform an unattended installation of the Outlook client, modify the default settings contained in Outlook.stf, which is the standard setup file used by setup.exe to customize global type user settings versus personal client customization. For example, edit Outlook.stf so Schedule Plus is the default calendar instead of the Outlook calendar.

Use either NIW 2.0 (Network Installation Wizard) or WordPad to edit the Outlook.stf file, but not both. If you use WordPad first and then use the NIW, all custom changes will be lost.

NIW can be difficult to use so follow these steps for best results:

  1. Create a share called Outlook.

  2. Setup /a (administrative install) to the share point.

  3. Run NIW pointed at the Outlook.stf file on the Outlook share.

If NIW causes other problems, try typing in the values rather than using the browse button to set paths. In some cases you may have to find the value you want to enable or disable, then toggle the YES/NO value manually. For example, if you do not want users to be prompted to use Schedule Plus if a CAL or SCD file is found, set the YES value to NO in the STF files. (See the "More Information" section below for details on NIW.)

Conclusion

The tools and information described in this article come from a variety of sources and have been brought together to ease the challenge of automating Outlooks installations. A customizing Outlook client installation makes it easier to:

  • Reduce installation time

  • Roll out consistent implementations

  • Modify features not supported by default

  • Personalize user profiles

In some cases, customers have experienced a 50 percent reduction in time needed to install the Outlook client and fewer end-user calls to Helpdesk as a result of automating the client installation.

More Information

For related information on Outlook setup, search on the following Microsoft Knowledge Base articles in TechNet:

  • 166778—OL97: Contents of the Profile.doc Readme File

  • 171628—OL97: Stand-Alone Outlook 97 Setup Options

  • 166300—OL97: Outlook Services File Information

  • 165374—OL97: Setup in Batch/Quiet Mode for Outlook

  • 145905—XCLN: NEWPROF.EXE Command Line Options

  • 161487—OFF97: Contents of Relnotes.doc for the NIW

These articles are also available on the Microsoft Web site. Just connect to this site http://www.microsoft.comhttp://support.microsoft.com/ to access the Knowledge Base and search on the above Q#s.

We at Microsoft Corporation hope that the information in this work is valuable to you. Your use of the information contained in this work, however, is at your sole risk. All information in this work is provided "as -is", without any warranty, whether express or implied, of its accuracy, completeness, fitness for a particular purpose, title or non-infringement, and none of the information mentioned in the work are supported or guaranteed by Microsoft Corporation. Microsoft Corporation shall not be liable for any damages you may sustain by using this information, whether direct, indirect, special, incidental or consequential, even if it has been advised of the possibility of such damages.

Microsoft TechNet

November 1997
Volume 5, Issue 10

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