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On 16 Jul 2013

Tech Notes

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If your working in an environment where your users are in the same domain as your Microsoft Exchange environment, then Auto Discovery should take care of the configuration of your Outlook email clients.  If you need to use Outlook Anywhere so that your Outlook clients can connect as if they were on a foreign or untrusted network, it can be a bit of a pain to configure.  This would be fine if Autodiscover could take the strain. but if your local users are not in the same domain as Exchange, then this may not work.

What is Autodiscover?

Autodiscover allows the automatic configuration of an Outlook profile, so that a user can get up and running with Outlook on a new computer by just click Next, Next, Next through the config pages as they appear pre-configured.  Autodiscover is normally provided through a web address (e.g. http://domain.com/autodiscover/autodiscover.xml), so that Outlook can supply some info about the user, and appropriate config details can be returned.

Outlook will query Active Directory to find out where Autodiscover is being serviced from.  If this fails, either because AD is unreachable or because AD doesn’t have the info (if Exchange isn’t installed in that domain), it will try a few guesses depending on the information available.  If Outlook can reach the domain and ascertain the user’s email, then it can guess the domain of the URL, for example.

For more detail see http://www.msexchange.org/articles-tutorials/exchange-server-2010/management-administration/exchange-autodiscover.html

Manual Autodiscover

Whilst Autodiscover is normally served by a webserver and provides a dynamic response based on the request, it is possible to provide a static XML file which can provide enough information to get Outlook up and running.  See below for the XML for the equivalent Outlook config show below it.

<!-- Manual AutoDiscover file for Outlook Anywhere
 
     See http://vblog.strutt.org.uk/2013/07/outlook-anywhere-auto-configuration -->
 
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<Autodiscover xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/autodiscover/responseschema/2006">
 <Response xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/autodiscover/outlook/responseschema/2006a">
  <Account>
    <AccountType>email</AccountType>
    <Action>settings</Action>
    <Protocol>
      <Type>EXPR</Type> 						<!-- Type = Outlook Anywhere -->
      <Server>cas.domain.com</Server>					<!-- FQDN of Outlook Client Access Server / Exchange server -->
	  <SSL>on</SSL>							<!-- Use SSL to connect? -->
	  <CertPrincipalName>msstd:oa.domain.com</CertPrinicpalName>	<!-- Proxy certificate -->
	  <AuthRequired>on</AuthRequired>
    </Protocol>
  </Account>
 </Response>
</Autodiscover>
Outlook-OA-Config

Outlook Anywhere configuration pages for user@domain.com, see equivalent Autodiscover.xml above

Redirect Outlook to Autodiscover.xml file

In order for Outlook to know where to look for the static Autodiscover.xml file, the registry needs to be updated to provide a value for the domain that the XML file is providing config for.  The XMl file can be place on a web-server of fileserver, anywhere so long as it can be accessed by clients that will need it.

The registry value that provides the path to the XML file has the name of the domain that it services.  So for user@domain.com, the registry value needs to be named domain.com.

  • So for Outlook 2007, for example, create a REG_SZ value under
    • HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Outlook\AutoDiscover\domain.com = “\\FileServer\Config$\Outlook\Autodiscover.xml
  • So for Outlook 2010, for example, create a REG_SZ value under
    • HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Outlook\AutoDiscover\domain.com = “\\FileServer\Config$\Outlook\Autodiscover.xml

The above examples obviously assume you’ve put your Autodiscover.xml file in the path specified.

You could push these out to client machines through an AD Group Policy (User Configuration\Preferences\Windows Settings\Registry), or some other means of your choosing.


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