Outlook 2002 is available to Exchange 2000 Server administrators for use with their existing Client Access Licenses (CALs), so you might be considering an Outlook 2002 deployment, even if you're still using Microsoft Office 2000 and don't feel ready for Office XP yet. As part of the Outlook 2002 planning process, you need to consider the best way to deploy the product and how well it will coexist with versions of Office earlier than Office XP.

If there's any chance that you'll deploy the full Office XP product later, you have two choices for setting up an administrative installation point on your network from which to deploy Outlook 2002. One choice is to set up Outlook by itself by using the separate Outlook 2002 CD-ROM that you get with Exchange 2000 Service Pack 2 (SP2) or can order from Microsoft Worldwide Fulfillment, then later set up the rest of Office XP using a full Office XP CD-ROM. If you follow this route, you'll need to maintain two separate installation points, one for Outlook 2002 and one for the rest of Office XP.

The other option is to create your full Office XP installation point now but use the tools in the Microsoft Office XP Resource Kit to create a "transform" (.mst file) that installs only the Outlook features on the users' machines. This way, you don't use the Outlook 2002 CD-ROM and you'll have only one Office installation point to maintain. When you're ready to deploy Office XP at some time in the future, you'll run the Custom Maintenance Wizard (CMW) to create a new .mst file that deploys the other Office programs.

The CMW is one of several excellent tools in the resource kit (available online at http://www.microsoft.com/office/ork/xp/default.htm and on the Outlook 2002 CD-ROM) that help you deploy and maintain an Outlook or Office installation. Another tool is the Custom Installation Wizard (CIW), which you use to set up the deployment options. CIW lets you select the Outlook features you want to install; set default options for most of the Outlook settings found under Tools, Options; and even build a default mail profile for Outlook users if you need to.

Outlook 2002 no longer uses tools such as profgen.exe, newprof.exe, or modprof.exe to handle profiles. You can use CIW and CMW to generate default mail profile settings and even modifications (such as a new Exchange server name). CIW and CMW let you create a profile with any of the services included in Outlook 2002, then export it to a .prf file if you want to edit it further by hand—for example, to include non-Microsoft components. If you have an existing Outlook profile .prf file, both CIW and CMW can import it and incorporate it into your deployment. Also, Outlook can now run a .prf file as part of a Windows logon script.

The resource kit also includes the Office Profile Wizard for taking a snapshot of user settings—say, on a plain vanilla Outlook machine set up just the way you want—that you can incorporate into your deployment with the CIW. (Note, however, that the tool's name is slightly misleading; it doesn't capture Outlook mail profile settings in its snapshot of user options.) Other tools are the .adm policy files (for enforcing Outlook settings with policies) and the administrative pack (for using a special Exchange public folder to manage Outlook security settings). You'll also find full documentation for just about any Outlook or Office deployment question you're likely to encounter. The kit is truly a great resource.

As for coexistence with Office 2000 and earlier versions, you need to be aware of several potential problems. Outlook 2002 can't use a Microsoft Word version earlier than Word 2002 as its email editor, nor can Word 2000 or earlier versions use data from Outlook 2002 in mail merges. Also, choosing File, Send To, Mail Recipient in Office 2000 programs won't generate Outlook 2002 messages. Finally, because Outlook 2002 includes the enhanced security features first introduced in the Outlook Email Security Update, you might want to analyze your corporate applications to see whether any of them trigger security prompts in Outlook 2002. If they do, one option is to deploy the security features' administration tools at the same time that you deploy Outlook 2002 so that you can loosen the security features to let your important applications continue operating the same way they always have.

If you've deployed Outlook 2002, I'm interested in hearing about your experiences—what worked and what you'd do differently next time. Drop me a line at olupdate@slipstick.com.