We ended with configuring of server side to prepare the remote access to Exchange mailbox from the outside. Now we can start configuring the client side. In other words, we need to what we should do as the users to be able to receive corporate mail while we are sitting home or traveling with our laptop on the business trip. But before we will do that I will go a little backward and say that we as admins should pay our attention to the fact how we configure our environment. In that our specific case when we should provide user with access to the network the outer network perimeter is what pays our attention. What we do usually to prevent ourselves from being attacked from the outside? As with medieval battles, we close our doors, close our windows (oopps, let leave Windows running for little more we haven’t finished with configuring its client application) and left just a pair of doors left open. For us themselves, our friends and our bodyguards. The same way we do when our medieval castle turns into our corporate network. We usually leave to ports open: the one for HTTP (that’s we ourselves as we as our friends, the users, need access to information) and the one for SSL (that’s our bodyguard that keeps our connection secure by using public key encryption). But aren’t we here to communicate with Exchange server? How will we do that if we just have HTTP(S)? We need to be able of doing remote procedure calls. But we blocked them! How should be manage to be able to use them anyway. Uh, again we should carry that weight on our own shoulders. Let’s help the RPC and let HTTP to carry it on top. That’s exactly what we do there. We use RPC over HTTP. We encapsulate RPC network filesystem commands into HTTP headers. So here’s the scheme we have:
1. We send the request from the Outlook client application via SSL
2. It then comes to the corporate firewall (such as ISA firewall)
3. As ISA sees HTTP traffic on its input it passes the flow forward
4. Now we have the Front-End Exchange server on our way. Shortly, front-end server is the component that authenticates and proxifies HTTP requests

Typically running IIS RPC over HTTP proxy service is enough. So the main thing here to get is proxy.

Note: if you are still running old Windows XP SP1 clients you should keep this and mind and prepare your system and install the hotfix specified in the article to make to Outlook work reliable.

Keep in mind that to configure the profile on the client side and begin working with RPC over HTTP you should have your RPC port (that is the 135 one) opened prior that. Here are the recommendations provided by Microsoft for building the Front-End and Back-End Topology:
“Open TCP ports on the intranet firewall for the protocols you are using:

80 for HTTP

143 for IMAP

110 for POP

25 for SMTP

691 for Link State Algorithm routing protocol

Open ports for Active Directory Communication:

TCP port 389 for LDAP to Directory Service

UDP port 389 for LDAP to Directory Service

TCP port 3268 for LDAP to Global Catalog Server

TCP port 88 for Kerberos authentication

UDP port 88 for Kerberos authentication

Open the ports required for access to the DNS server:

TCP port 53

UDP port 53

Open the appropriate ports for RPC communication:

TCP port 135 – RPC endpoint mapper

TCP ports 1024+ – random RPC service ports

(Optional) To limit RPCs across the intranet firewall, edit the registry on servers in the intranet to specify RPC traffic to a specific non random port. Then, open the appropriate ports on the internal firewall:

TCP port 135 – RPC endpoint mapper

TCP port 1600 (example) – RPC service port

If you use IPSec between the front-end and back-end, open the appropriate ports. If the policy you configure only uses AH, you do not need to allow ESP, and vice versa.

UDP port 500 – IKE

IP protocol 51 – AH

IP protocol 50 – ESP

UDP port 88 and TCP port 88 – Kerberos”

Still the great thing with Outlook 2003 is that it IS able to configure the profile even without port 135 opened! Yes, it will swear on you that you have not opened port 135 but in the end you will get the profile configured. You just need your DNS working properly.

We sorted out the underlying process and can now freely begin with setting up the client side.

1. The first step is as always to start Mail control panel applet to configure the MAPI profile. There are at least two ways to do that:
1. We can click Start\Control Panel\Mail
2. We can right-click the Outlook icon in the Start menu and select Properties from the context menu
2. In the opened Mail dialog click Add button to add or create new profile
3. Now create new mail account by selecting Add a new e-mail account in the E-mail Accounts wizard or change the existing one by selecting the View or change existing e-mail accounts
4. On the Server Type window select Microsoft Exchange Server and click Next
5. On the Exchange Server Settings window specify the Fully Qualified Domain Name for the front-end Exchange server (refer to the info shown in the IIS site certificate to get the right name) such as exchange.acme.com. Type your user account in the Username field
6 . In the Microsoft Exchange Server dialog box switch to the Advanced tab (I recommed leaving the settings specified on the General tab intact), check Use local copy of Mailbox and set the Download only headers checkbox. This is expecially useful when configuring settings for the roaming client that uses laptop
7. Switch to the Security tab and check the Encrypt information checkbox
8. Now we are ready to do what are here for. Switch to the Connection tab and set Connect to my Exchange mailbox using HTTP checkbox
9. Click the Exchange Proxy Settings… button and configure the URL (such as exchange.acme.com) used to connect to your RPC proxy by setting it in the Use this URL to connect to my proxy server for Exchange text box. Check the Mutually authenticate the session when connecting with SSL checkbox. In the Principal name for proxy server text box put the FQDN preceded with the msstd: string. So that with exchange.acme.com you should specify msstd:exchange.acme.com as the principal name for the proxy server
10.1. Check both checkboxes for the slow and fast connections
10.2 If you have the single Connect using HTTP first, then connect using my Local Area Network (LAN) checkbox only, now you know what Microsoft means under LAN…
11. Select Basic Authentication and click OK to close the Window
12. We finished the process and can now start the client application. Depending on whether you have that command in the Outlook icon in the notification area of the taskbar you willl be able to observe established connections to the server by choosing the status command.

Note: as Microsoft says Outlook (in contrast to Group Policy which is “defined by default as any rate slower than 500 kilobits per second (Kbps)“) “defines a fast connection as a connection that is faster than 128 kilobits per second (Kbps). Outlook defines a slow connection as a connection that is slower than or equal to 128 Kbps”

How to Create an Outlook Profile for Users to Use with RPC over HTTP
Target-based Automated Client Configuration with Ability to Update and Add the RPC over HTTP Functionality for the Domain User

The Group Policy Slow-Link Detection Formula

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We have several divisions where people mostly roam from one location to another be it a business trip or just a remote work. But as that’s all about doing their jobs they need the information they basically can access only right from the office. One of such types of information is surely their personal corporate mail. That’s how we work today. If we have no access to any collaboration services our work gets stuck. And the mail is the main thing there. So the core task for every system administrator today is how to provide the user with access to their corporate mail remotely from any place no matter where the user will decide to access it from.

How to do that?

One way is to create a Virtual Private Network (VPN). But what if by some reasons you can’t or simply don’t want to setup VPN to avoid making the things for users even more complex? What can you do here? What should you start with? The core term here is “RPC over HTTP“, where RPC is the Remote Procedure Call, a protocol that allows interprocess communications between client and server sides so that a component to be accessed remotely in such a way that we don’t even need to know any low-level information. This is the technology that allows Outlook users to connect to their Exchange mailbox from a remote place. And there’s no need to have a VPN connection. It allows accessing Exchange servers right through your default corporate LAN’s firewall using the basic ports used by browsers to access unsecure and secure contents on the internet. The ports that should be opened to allow access are the TCP port 80 used for basic unsecure connections and the SSL port 443 used for secure connections that are established using the Secure Sockets Layer protocol which is used as basis protocol for the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol which version 1.1. is defined in the RFC4346 document.

What should we do to enable all that for our users?

The process contains least two parts we should do to implement the functionality. As we are talking about client-server communications we need to prepare the configurations on both the server as the client. We will consider the Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 installed on the Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 and above to be the server side and Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 installed on the Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2 to be the client side.
Configuring Server Side
Let’s start configuring the setup from the server side. First of all we need to configure Exchange Server 2003 back-end server as an RPC proxy server. The process here starts with installing the additional component RPC over HTTP Proxy from the Windows Server Setup Disk. To do that:
1. Click Start and select Control Panel|Add or Remove Programs to start the Add or Remove Programs applet
2. In the Add or Remove Programs windows click Add/Remove Windows Components button
3. The Windows Components screen of the Windows Components Wizard will appear
4. Select Networking Sevices and click the Details button to open the Networking Sevices dialog
4. In the dialog box, check the RPC over HTTP Proxy checkbox and click OK

The RPC component will be installed on the system and the RPC virtual directory will be created on the IIS. Now we need to configure authentication and the encryption.

Configuring client authentication

Basic authentication will be used to authenticate users. This type of authentication has one very annoying property: it sends creadentials in the pure form as the plain text. That’s why we will need to configure SSL and implement the encryption to be used for passing the credentials.
To configure that
1. Click Start and select Programs|Administrative Tools|Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager to start the IIS manager
2. In the manager window navigate to Web Sites and select Default Web Site
3. Expand Default Web Site, right-click the RPC virtual directory, and select Properties command from the shortcut menu
4. In the RPC Virtual Directory Properties page switch to the Directory Security tab
5. Under Anonymous Access and Authentication Control pane click Edit button.
6. The Authentication Methods dialog box will appear
7. Uncheck the Enable Anonymous Access checkbox

That’s needed because by default RPC over HTTP doesn’t allow anonymous access

8. Under Authenticated access section, select the check box Basic authentication (password is sent in clear text)
9. You can also allow the NTLM Windows authentication and leave the Integrated Windows authentication checkbox checked

Microsoft has a note on this type of authentication:
It is recommended that you use Basic authentication over NTLM because of two reasons. First, RPC over HTTP currently supports only NTLM – it doesn’t support Kerberos. Second, if there is an HTTP Proxy or a firewall between the RPC over HTTP client and the RPC Proxy, which inserts via the pragma in the HTTP header, NTLM authentication will not work

10. End with the warning message and ensure that you have correct SSL certificate installed on your server

Now we need to enabled SSL to be used for the RPC Virtual Directory. To do that

1. On the same Directory Security tab mentioned above click Edit button under Secure communications
2. Check both the Require secure channel (SSL) and the Require 128-bit encryption check boxes
3. Click OK to save settings and close the window

See How to Configure the RPC Virtual Directory in IIS article for the detailed info

The next step is to configure the RPC proxy server on Exchange Server 2003 to use specified port range for RPC over HTTP. To do that:
1. Open registry editor by typing regedit in the Run dialog box
2. In the Regsitry Editor navigate to the path

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Rpc\RPCProxy

Create the ValidPorts string REG_SZ parameter and set it to the value the is built in the following manner

NETBIOSNAME:6001-6002;FQDNDNSNAME:6001-6002;NETBIOSNAME:6004;FQDNDNSNAME:6004;

to open the port range 6001-6002 and one single port 6004

Now we need to configure our Exchange 2003 back-end servers (the GC, Global Catalog servers) and set the NT Directory Services (NTDS) port on them. So we again should to specify registry parameter to do that. This time we need to open the

HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\NTDS\Parameters

create a REG_MULTI_SZ ‘NSPI interface protocol sequences’ parameter and set it to value NCACN_HTTP:6004

We ended with the specific preliminary tasks on the server and can start with configuring client application (that is the Outlook 2003) profile to work with RPC over HTTPS. But that’s the story to be covered in the next part when we will talk about client side configuration.

Further info:
RPC over HTTP Interactions on the RPC Proxy Server
How RPC Works
Automatic Configuration of The Client Side
RPC over HTTP Authentication and Security

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Now that we’ll go further with this. How to push these settings enterprise-wide.

As we added line break to the document, we can continue to fill the signature and put (a last!) the name of the company we work in. The procedure is absolutely the same except that for now we are typing company name and hence we are passing the that out mysterious company ACME Corporation name to the input of the method:

objSelection.TypeText “ACME Corporation”

After that we are running Range() to end with the typed text selection block.

Now when we created the content of the signature we are stepping in to create the signature in Outlook. First off we need to create the object that will represent the parent of the object representing the signature. That means we should create objEmailOptions object:

Set objEmailOptions = objWord.EmailOptions

Alright, the parent is created, lets create the child, the objSignatureObject object:

Set objSignatureObject = objEmailOptions.EmailSignature

Now when we created the objSignatureObject signature object that’s the time to include our signature to the list of signatures. What’s the list? It’s the collection. Want to know how it looks like?

1. Open Outlook
2. Open Tools|Options and switch to the Mail Format tab on the Options dialog box
3. In the Signatures section click Signatures button to open the Create Signature dialog box
4. Here we are. The collection is just the list of items listed in the Signature list in this dialog

To create the collection we need to create object

Set objSignatureEntries = objSignatureObject.EmailSignatureEntries

We are ready to fill in the list now. To do that we need to add new item to the collection by using the Add method. To name it somehow we’ll just pass Standard Signature as the parameter:

objSignatureEntries.Add “Standard Signature”, objSelection

Let’s check what we created. Open the Create Signature dialog box as stated in the list above (see step 3) and check the Standard Signature is in the list of available signatures (or the only existing one if you haven’t created the single one yet).

“Wait, wait, wait, wait!” I hear you are saying that. “You told us about the name of the signature, but how did we create it?” You are right. We used reference to the created objSelection object to fill in the signature with the text. That’s what we used Word for.

OK. Signature is created, we can go. Unfortunately, not yet. You are asking, why? Look at the Signature section on the Mail Format tab in the Options dialog box. Observe two drop-down lists there. We haven’t assigned the signature yet. We need to make sure that when the user will either create or reply to the message the created signature will be used there. To do that we need to use two corresponding properties.

1. NewMessageSignature property is used to attach new signature to all newly created messages
2. ReplyMessageSignature property will be used in case user will reply to the incoming message

Lets go. As always, we are creating two objects:

objSignatureObject.NewMessageSignature = “Standard Signature”

objSignatureObject.ReplyMessageSignature = “Standard Signature”

Now look at the mentioned drop-down lists. The “Standard Signature” item is there and successfully selected. Try to create new mail or reply to the message. You will get the created signature attached at the bottom of your message.

By the way, if we would have another signature in the list of signatures we could set another one as the default either for new message or for the replied one depending on what you want it to be by typing its name within the quotes.

Voila! We ended with signature creation. That wasn’t too complicated tasks but still… Look at what we did? Can we leave this alone? Can we consider it to be the right solution? Of course, not. First of all we are talking about corporate environment with computers joined to domain. If we will stop with this solution it would require us either create a set of unique signature scripts, or create a huge IF branching that would put different names for signatures to make them unique for all user computers.

I’ll continue describing what we can do. For now you can find the ways right in the list of the articles I put at the bottom of this my note. See you later.

MSDN Magazine Scripting Outlook Signature article
How about automation? Automatic E-mail Signatures Creation
How to find and use Office object model documentation
Programming the Outlook object model
Microsoft Word Object Model
The TypeText Method
Microsoft Word Selection Object Members
What’s new in Outlook 2007 Object Model

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Sending messages without a signature is not what one would call etiquette correct. Surely when we are mailing to each other in a limited set of participants where everyone knows another person quite well, having a signature can be an excess. But once we are talking about business communications having a proper signature becomes a must.
That’s when we get why we need Word to be a default editor for composing Outlook messages.
How do we setup a signature
For personal needs we do the following
In this example Office Outlook 2003 and Office Word 2003 are covered
1. Launch Outlook and choose Tools|Options to open the Options dialog box
2. In the Options dialog box switch to the Mail Format tab
3. In the Message format select HTML from the Compose in this message format drop-down list
4. Check the Use Microsoft Office Word 2003 to edit e-mail messages
5. Under Signature select account to be which you want the signature be assigned to
6. Click Signatures button and click New button to create the signature.
7. Enter a name to set how you wish signature to be listed in the list of signatures. This is needed to differentiate between signature is you have several signature. I recommend naming convention to be FirstName LastName [Type][Lang] where the stands for the signature type and is used to differentiate between corporate and personal signature. Lang designates the language of the signature what is useful if you work with multilingual customers. So name it to be named as John Doe [Corp][EN], John Doe [Corp][DE], etc
8. If it’s your brand new signature and you have no previously created signatures there, select Start with a blank signature and click Next
9. While in the Signature text box click Advanced Edit to launch Microsoft Office Word
10. When Word will start, type your signature, format it accordingly to confirm personal preferences or corporate rules
11. Save changes to the edited document

There is a nice demo on how to create, apply formatting to bring some elegance to it, and manage profiles by switching between signatures if you have say your corporate and personal signatures.
Inserting signature in a message
Signature Management with Outlook Profiles in Domain environment
Sign off simply in Microsoft Office Word

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I work in a company that provides various kinds of services. We have a pretty distributed corporate network throughout the country. Many people use our mailing server to collaborate with each other. Some work in local offices, some go out for a business trip. Add here the never-ending flow of incoming clientèle and you’ll probably see yourself as it’s you are talking from this blog. Nothing that unusual. We know it’s our normal quite serene working day in IT department. No matter where we are actually working in. Routine. Returning back to what I have in my corp. As we also have external offices this adds the additional complexion. We definitely needed some way to separate client accounts at least to differentiate between customers and workers. The standard way to answer the task is to use outlook profiles. That’s what we did.
We started with quite a brute way of making this. We wrote down the guide on the corporate intranet site describing the steps the new user should take himself to setup outlook profiles. Again nothing that comes extremely unusual, just the standard multi-step follow-up to guide user through the manual configuration. Except that the diversity of users forced us to enhance the guide to handle several basic configurations of used version of Outlook and the operating system it runs on.
Here I will go a little bit aside to talk about intentions and decisions. (Sometimes they differ, huh?) First I wasn’t thinking about showing you that ‘guide’ we created. I just didn’t want to attack you with additional strings of ASCII bytes to narrow the excess and cancel the empty non-informative noise. But then I come thinking of why not to show you our errors and describe the underlying story a bit more detailed to get it more descriptive and explanatory. This would bring some humor and joy and allow some of you to not repeat my errors. Sometimes it gets the positive result if someone learns from the errors of your own. So I decided to include that our user manual and put some extra info to show how we found the the way to resolve the problem settled down the internal and external collaboration to run in a fully automated way. Here it is in all its glance though in a slightly abridged form (I cut down the specific info).

How to set up Outlook profiles to work with your mail in the XYZ corporation network

Operating System: Windows 98
Outlook client: Microsoft Outlook 2000

1. Click Start
2. Select Settings\Control Panel to open the Control Panel window
3. Locate the Mail or Mail and Fax icon and double-click on it to launch the applet
4. In the Mail dialog box opened Add button to start the Inbox Setup Wizard
5. In the wizard page opened select the Use the following information services radio button and check the Microsoft Exchange Server check box in the scrolling field below
6. Click next to move to next wizard dialog box
7. Click into Microsoft Exchange server field and type the following in it
mail.xyz.com
8. Switch to second field on the wizard dialog box and type your last name
9. Click next to move to next wizard dialog box
10. Click No when prompted to ask “Do you travel with this computer?” question
11. Click Finish to close the wizard
12. Select the created profile and click Properties button
13. On the XYZ Corporation Properties mailbox dialog box select the Microsoft Exchange Server and click Properties button
14. In the Microsoft Exchange Server dialog box opened check you’ve entered correct settings for the mail server address and the name of your mailbox we put previously in steps 7 and 8. Revise if the mail server address was typed correctly and listed as
mail.xyz.com
as you wouldn’t be able to work with mail if the address was incorrectly set
15. Click OK to close the window
16. Now double click the Outlook icon on your desktop to start mailing program.
17. In the Enter password dialog box type
18. Your login name into the User Name field
19. XYZ in the in the Domain Name field
20. Your password into the Password field
Note: if you don’t know your your login and password check with your supplementary Account setup form list or contact system administrator by phone to get them BEFORE proceeding with next step
21. When entered click OK to proceed with settings and log in to mailbox

Note: if you need to create multiprofile setup, refer to How to create multiprofile mail setup document on the http://intranet/techinfo/mail/outlook/ompmbseetup.doc

Operating System: Windows 2000, Windows XP
Outlook client: Microsoft Outlook 2002, Microsoft Office Outlook 2003

1. Click Start
2. Control Panel to open the Control Panel window
3. Locate the Mail icon and click on it to launch the applet
4. In the Mail dialog box opened Add button and enter the profile name in the New Profile dialog box
5. In the Mail Setup – Outlook dialog box click on the E-mail Accounts… button to launch the E-mail Accounts wizard
6. Select Add a new e-mail account radio button to be able to add your new Outlook account
7. Click Next to go to next wizard dialog box
8. On the Server type dialog select Microsoft Exchange Server radio button and click next
9. On the Exchange Server Settings dialog box fill in the field with the data contained in the supplementary Account setup form list or contact system administrator by phone to get the info
10. In the Microsoft Exchange Server field enter mail.xyz.com as the address to be used by Outlook to connect and retrieve your personal mail
11.1 If you are using Office Outlook 2003 check the Use Cached Exchange Mode checkbox below
11.2 If that is not true and you are using the previous version of Microsoft Outlook go to next step
12. In the User Name field enter the name to be used for your mail box. If you don’t know your username, click Start and use the name written in the caption of the Start menu
13. Click Check name to verify the entered name and avoid conflict with existing names (if any)
14.1 If you are using Windows XP, enter username@xyz.com in the User name field and fill in the password in the field below
14.2 If you are using Windows 2000, enter your username in the User name field, fill in the password in the next field and enter xyz in the Domain name field
15. If Microsoft Outlook notification message box appears notifying you about existing personal folders appears, go to step 17
16. Setup is now finished. Click Finish button the save settings and exit the Outlook configuration wizard
17. Click Yes button to confirm and continue
18. Start the Mail Setup – Outlook dialog box (see step 5 above) click on the E-mail Accounts… button to launch the E-mail Accounts wizard
19. Select View or change existing e-mail accounts radio button and click Next button
20. In the E-mail Accounts dialog select Microsoft Exchange Server entry within the Outlook processes e-mail for these accounts in the following order
21. Server will ask you to authenticate. Enter the data as discribed in steps 14.x above
22. Change delivery target in the Deliver new mail to the following location drop-down list and choose Mailbox – Username, where Username will be the name you used to authenticate and click Finish

Pretty complicated, isn’t it? I bet you agree. Imagine how complex this comes for the person who doesn’t need to know deep in IT and just wants to concentrate on his personal work responsibilities. Twenty steps to complete to just configure mail profile. That last not too long until we realized that this mess cant last any longer and we should implement something to smooth the process for users and, if possible, make it completely automatic and transparent for the user.

How to create a new e-mail profile in Outlook 2007 and in Outlook 2003
Overview of Outlook e-mail profiles

Create a new e-mail profile in Outlook
Manage Outlook profiles
Get the version number for your Office program and information about your computer
Use Outlook Anywhere to connect to your Exchange server without VPN
What is a Microsoft Exchange account?
Change the password for your .pst file

Scan and repair corrupted Outlook data files
Turn on or off Cached Exchange Mode

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