New Collaboration and Security Options boost Work in Microsoft Exchange Server 2007. What’s new in latest SP1?
November 29, 2007
Service Pack 1 for Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 is due for release on 30 November 2007! Microsoft has prepared a major update for its flagship mail server which has now received many new features and improvements and can be downloaded from site.
Support for new platform
Microsoft Exchange Server is now fully compatible with Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and can be deployed to a computer running Windows Server 2008 RC0 Escrow build. The full list of supported operating systems can be found here.
Exchange Server 2007 SP1 has a mixed IPv6 128-bit addressing by default when running on a Windows Server 2008 platform. That is it only runs IPv6 when the obsolescent protocol IPv4 is enabled. Otherwise Exchange server will fail running on IP. If you are running a deployment for multiple machines you can create a rule to deploy only for the defined IPv6 range thus avoiding unsupported setup conditions with IPv6-enabled management tools or based on general information about support of IPv6 in Microsoft operating systems. Another way is to call a function that can resolve to an IPv6-address, that is something like IsResolvableEx used to resolve a hostname when performing a Web-Proxy autodiscovery or just issue a ping command on IPv6-address like say
ping6 -n 2 ::1
That is we ping 2 times on a loopback address 0:0:0:0:0:0:0:1 using a short notation (two-colon notation) for writing IPv6 addresses.
New features were added to a remote access for a remote client
Exchange Active Sync a has received a remote wipe confirmation feature and is now enabled with Enhanced Exchange ActiveSync mailbox policy settings which include ability to
Disable Removable Storage
Disable POP/IMAP e-mail
Block Internet Sharing
It both provides for a data protection and ensures a security for sensitive data on mobile devices should they be stolen or accidentally lost by user. This all can be done centrally from within Exchange Management Console or Exchange Management Shell and works in a best traditions of what is meant under a centralized management.
Mobile work becomes faster
The new Service Pack improves and speeds-up long-standing connections between a server and a mobile device mobile devices.
Dramatic improvements in remote work though Outlook Web Access
Microsoft has completely rewritten the Outlook Web Access in Exchange Server 2007 and SP1 brought many of those that were not enabled in the RTM so that OWA now comes with lightning new features too.
First off, running in a Light mode OWA does not time out any longer and no longer drops the session out if user is composing a long message or just working with its calendar for a long time. OWA now prevents you from losing your typed messages by automatically saving the them in as Draft folder as-you-type.
In Premium mode for Outlook Web Access it is now possible for a user to create and edit Personal Distribution Lists and server side rules.
What about support for Microsoft Office System 2007? WebReady Document Viewing has finally been added with support for decoding and viewing in HTML of Word/Excel and PowerPoint X-Documents in OpenXML format.
It is now possible to copy or move folders using a dedicated context menu command.
Public Folders functionality now offers following features:
It is now possible to get full access to public folders from OWA and you don’t have to use the Public virtual directory. And you can get full access to public folders on Exchange 2007 Mailbox servers is now available for users without the need for you to provide Public Folder access from Outlook Web Access on Exchange 2003 Mailbox server. Microsoft has also added search features for Public Folders.
Increased manageability within Exchange Management Console
Exchange Management Console has been enhanced with a brand new interface for administering POP3 and IMAP4 protocols.
Hub Transport Server role has been added with functionality to set message size limits on Active Directory site links.
New features in Mailbox Server role
It is now possible to import and export mailbox by using .pst files. I believe this will provide greater flexibility administrator especially combined with such functionally available in standalone applications as automatic configuration of .pst files for the end user profile.
Those companies that use IP telephony are now able to create SIP URI and E.164 dial plans and add a SIP or E.164 address for a user by using the Enable Unified Messaging Wizard.
Exchange Web Services were added with a more granular permission configuration that now supports configuring folder level permissions so that both users and user applications are now able to list and configure permissions on folders. It is also possible to delegate management with services.
Official Document describing what’s new in Exchange Server 2007 SP1
Automatic configuration of mailboxes and Outlook profiles for the client side on the post-deployment stage
Additional information on what you have to do to deploy Exchange Server 2007 SP1 on Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2003 family
More information about what’s new about client access features in Exchange Server 2007 SP1
Outlook: Enable Users to Remotely Access Corporate Mail From Anywhere. Part I Introduction. Setting Up and Configuring Server Side
April 13, 2007
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
Create the ValidPorts string REG_SZ parameter and set it to the value the is built in the following manner
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
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.
Technorati tag: remote work remote mail client-server exchange properties corporate mail private network RPC over HTTP open port back-end server NTLM authentication basic authentication secure mail exchange mailbox mail configuration collaboration registry IIS VPN proxy Microsoft Office mobile users outlook profiles exchange profiles OWA virtual directory remote access firewall
April 2, 2007
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
Technorati tags: object model ADSI script outlook object model word object model exchange properties signature generate personal signature mail signature active directory scripting Microsoft Office outlook profiles corporate mail VBScript
March 30, 2007
The steps to create mail signature in Outlook manually are not so complex to perform. But as it usually happens, this ‘rule’ cannot be applied to all cases. Once you can burden this task on user’s shoulders in a small company with a few computers in net and probably no Active Directory, go do it in large company. Even in relatively large company it’s nearly impossible to force users to go beyond corporate rules on formatting the signature. At any time in any place chances are very high we will get the chaos within the settings of users’ signatures. Ones just will be unable to create them at all, others will leave your direction and not set signature at all, while the rest will edit the standardized formatting to what they like to look like and… You will get the chaos. Imagine you will start labeling your corporate logo differently each time you put it somewhere. John will put it that like, Marianne will add some flowers at the very left conner of the logo because she is delighted with the Spring that came earlier (later?) this year. Absurd? For sure. Logo is that kind of things that usually changes only by common agreement and cannot change and depend on the each single person wish. Surely, you can create legal notices, you can stick banners screaming on users and forcing them to comply the rules. But the question is: should you do that? Or to say it better: should THEY do it? At least they were employed to do what they are specializing in and what they can do best, so why bothering them with excess problems and drawing them away from their internal responsibilities. While there are things that people should be able to freely made themselves, there are things at the same time that must be standardized. Just for the sake of following corporate rules, for the sake of what any standards are created for.
First Steps to Automate Creation of Outlook Signature
Here I will go through the process describing the process of how to create e-mail signature for Outlook using automation in the step-by-step manner.
The first thing you start thinking about automation is probably scripting. And because we want to add text here, we need to use Microsoft Office Word. Moreover, Outlook object model as it seemingly seems does not include methods that would allow to create and assign signatures for e-mail messages.
First of all we need to open our application. Because we will use Word here, we need to start Word application.
Set objWord = CreateObject(“Word.Application”)
We are creating objWord object to do that. If we want our application to be visible as we start it allowing the user to see the main application window, we need to set object property accordingly. Thus we can set Visible property of objWord instance to true.
‘objWord.Visible = True
Uncomment the string in the script and you’ll see the window displayed without any document opened in it. Comment it back on and you’ll see only the process instance displayed within the list of your task manager. But aren’t we here to create the signature? To create it we need to create a document that we will fill in further with signature info. To create a new document we need to use Add method and create a objDoc object which will designate the document we are creating:
Set objDoc = objWord.Documents.Add()
Alright. We created the document. Let’s start righting the text. We need some method that will do the job for us. Something like TypeText would be able to do that job for us. But the objWord object doesn’t have such a method contained within its object model. What should we do? Right what we do when we start typing out document. We should put an insertion point within it. What cannot be done with one object can be done with another one. The first thing that Scripting Guys are suggesting to use to type e-mail signature in live is to create Word’s Selection object. Here’s how we do that:
Set objSelection = objWord.Selection
Now we can start writing our first string of text to build the signature. We need to invoke the mentioned TypeText method here:
objDoc.TypeText “FirstName LastName”
Where the FirstName and the LastName strings are placeholders for the text that will be typed in the document. Thus if you will put John Doe here, and run the TypeText method you will see the John Doe string written in the first row of the Microsoft Word document. Now then we usually type the company name under the personal name. Okay, let’s write the name of the company. Let it be the mysterious ACME Corporation:
objDoc.TypeText “FirstName LastName”
But wait, why we got out strings sticked one to each other? That’s because we forgot to do out second action we do when we type the documents, breaking the line and inserting line feed and caret return to it. That is we need to put here our well-known “Press ENTER to continue”. What’s Enter in Word? It is paragraph. Strictly speaking paragraph is more complex thing in Word because it holds style and formatting info, but let cut its capabilities to such a limited scope. To put the paragraph we should add this
line to the code.
You can find the whole article here
Extra info on scripts utilizing XML and HTA can be found here
Script Automation: Automatic Genereation of E-mail Signatures on User Side Without User Intervention
How to find and use Office object model documentation
Programming the Outlook object model
Technorati tags: ADSI scripting corporate signature object model outlook object model word object model personal signature mail signature scripting active directory Microsoft Office outlook profiles VBScript outlook signature generate signature
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