This year ends with Exchange Server 2007 and Office Outlook 2007 available to volume-license customers, and the new version of Outlook poised for retail release on January 30 as part of the high-profile Microsoft Office 2007 System and Windows Vista launch event. With the flurry of activity around these new products, a few interesting Outlook 2007 downloads may have escaped your notice.

The hardest to find and by far the most interesting is a white paper, "Outlook Automatic Account Configuration," which you can download from http://office.microsoft.com/search/redir.aspx?AssetID=AM102105061033. This paper explains the new feature in Outlook 2007 that should be most exciting to administrators: Outlook's ability to automatically detect the user's correct mail server configuration, given nothing more than an SMTP address and password. The automatic configuration mechanism is designed to benefit all Outlook users, not just those connecting to an Exchange 2007 server. This paper documents how the automatic configuration feature works for Exchange and other types of accounts. It also provides details that mail server managers can use to build an .xml file so that Outlook 2007 clients can configure connections automatically. The .xml file can be hosted on a server located at a specific URL for the domain or can even be distributed as a local file, with a registry value telling Outlook where to find the file. This paper will be invaluable not just to administrators but also to corporate and ISP Help desks troubleshooting Outlook 2007 configuration glitches.

One of the more interesting features described in the paper is how to use a Group Policy setting to force Outlook to create a mail profile for a new user so that the user never sees any configuration options. To use this feature, create a registry value named ZeroConfigExchange in the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Outlook\AutoDiscover subkey and set it to a value of 1. If you use this approach instead of the traditional method of deploying a mail profile with a .prf file created with the Office Customization Tool, you'll probably want to review the other Group Policy settings that can control the Cached Exchange Mode options and other configuration choices.

To study and deploy such policy settings, download the 2007 Office System Administrative Templates for use with Group Policy Objects (GPO), which are available at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=92D8519A-E143-4AEE-8F7A-E4BBAEBA13E7. One of the other big changes for Outlook 2007 is that the security settings previously managed with an Exchange public folder are now fully manageable with Group Policy, even if Exchange is not the mail server.

Printing has never been Outlook's strong suit, so the availability of Calendar Printing Assistant for Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/HA101687211033.aspx) is very promising. This tool provides dozens of new print layouts for Outlook appointments and tasks, including yearly calendar views. After you install this application, look for it on the All Programs menu under Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office Tools; it runs as a separate program, not as a command on the Outlook menu.

Microsoft has released a compatibility update for the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 client that will allow it to work with Outlook 2007. Download it from http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=740e1b3b-11c3-4aef-b2e3-8309e0cf1bb0. This update also provides Windows Vista compatibility.

If you're trying out Exchange 2007, you can get a quick reference sheet to help users learn the navigational tree and options available for the new Outlook Voice Access (OVA) feature for managing mailboxes by phone. Download the PDF file from http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=836c5d3c-4c62-414f-b637-aec14f1d13f1.

Speaking of Exchange 2007, as Paul Robichaux pointed out in his December 14, 2006, column, "Exchange 2007 Released to Manufacturing," (http://www.windowsitpro.com, InstantDoc ID 94582), an Exchange 2007 CAL does not automatically include the right to install Outlook 2007, as previous Exchange CALs did. Organizations using Exchange Server 2003 with CALs covered by Software Assurance (SA) as of November 30, 2007, will get an Exchange 2007 Standard CAL for each Exchange 2003 CAL, plus the right to install Outlook 2007 on each machine covered by a CAL. The Exchange 2007 Enterprise CAL, which includes unified messaging (UM) and advanced compliance, is available as an add-on for the Standard CAL. If you have some users who need those features, you can purchase Enterprise CALs for them and use Standard CALs for everyone else. The Exchange 2007 Licensing FAQ at http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/howtobuy/licensingFAQ.mspx answers the basic questions about these CAL licensing changes, but when you're ready to buy Exchange 2007, you'll undoubtedly want to have a long talk with a licensing expert at Microsoft or your distributor to work out the details.

Finally, this is my last monthly column for Exchange & Outlook UPDATE, Outlook Edition. I've been writing about Outlook for this email newsletter since December 2000, when my first column covered the drastic security changes in Service Pack 2 (SP2) for Outlook 2000. We've gone full circle since then, with Outlook 2007 being the first release since Outlook 2000 SP2 to allow external programs to automate Outlook without security prompts (assuming that the machine has up-to-date antivirus protection). My interest in Outlook these days is mostly on the development side, rather than administration and usage, and I am also hoping to pursue some opportunities that are totally unrelated to Outlook. With Paul Robichaux and others minding the UPDATE newsletters, though, I'm sure you can still depend on a steady stream of useful Outlook information.

Editors note: The editors at Windows IT Pro want to thank Sue for the opportunity to work with her over the past years to provide our readers with information and tips for using Exchange and Outlook. She will certainly be missed, and we wish her luck in her future endeavors.