Microsoft Small Business Server (SBS) 2003 includes server and client-side improvements that make adding users, either in bulk or individually, significantly simpler than earlier versions of SBS did. In addition, SBS 2003's comprehensive wizard applications walk less technically savvy users through the process of configuring user accounts, resources, and applications. Although the client deployment and configuration portion of SBS 2003 is only a small part of SBS, it requires some work to be usable in a small business environment that might not have dedicated IT personnel.

I've found that configuring everything else about SBS 2003—starting with a clean installation on appropriate hardware—took longer and required more IT knowledge, despite most activities being wizard-driven, than deploying and configuring SBS clients. That situation is as it should be. In many cases, a Value Added Dealer (VAD) or the hardware OEM will handle the original installation and configuration of SBS 2003's server-side components. However, managing clients is an ongoing task in most shops, and unless your employee base is very stable, creating new users on your network is probably not a rare event. SBS 2003 does a good job of letting you configure each new user with a minimum of fuss and bother.

Adding a User to the Server
To begin, access the Add User Wizard by clicking the Users link on the Server Management Console. Launch the wizard by clicking Add a User. First, the wizard asks you to enter the first and last name of the user. With that information, the wizard automatically creates the user's logon name and email alias. By default, both the logon name and email alias are the same and are the first and last name of the user combined (e.g., JonathonSmith). To change the default, click the Logon Name field. A drop-down box appears with four automatically created options for the logon name: first name, last name; last name, first name; first initial, last name; first name, last initial. Remember that the logon name is also the user's email alias. In my tests I selected first name, last initial (e.g., JonathonS), as Figure 1 shows. However, this choice might not be the optimal one in most environments. Using the first initial and last name (e.g., Jsmith) will, in most cases, give you the shortest username that can guarantee uniqueness.

After you designate the user logon name, the Add User Wizard takes you to the Template Selection dialog box. Four default user account templates are available, and each succeeding template adds functionality to the previous template. First, the User template gives the user access to the Internet, shared folders and printers, and network fax capability. Second, the Mobile template adds permissions for VPN and dial-up access to the SBS network. Third, the Power User template adds user and resource management capability, plus the ability to log on to the server remotely. Fourth, the Administrator template adds full administrative rights to the SBS network.

You can choose not to use a predefined template by clicking the Add Template button, which launches the Add Template Wizard. This wizard lets you define a custom user account template. The wizard walks you through all the necessary steps to properly create the template.

The next step is to add the user to the security groups that the server-side setup configured. By default, SBS 2003 adds all users to the Domain Users and Remote Web Workplace Users groups, as Figure 2 shows. If you selected one of the three default user templates with functionality in addition to the User template, SBS will add the user to the appropriate additional groups. Aside from the default groups, you can add a user to any preconfigured group available in the Add User Wizard. For example, you might choose to add an administrative assistant to the Fax Operators group so that this employee has the capability to manage the network fax service.

After you add the user to Security Groups, you have the option to add the user to Distribution Groups. By default, only one Distribution Group is configured in SBS 2003, and that's the domain selected when the SBS 2003 server was configured.

After you've added the user to the appropriate groups, the Add User Wizard presents you with access options for the SharePoint Services portal site that was created during the SBS 2003 server-side installation. Four SharePoint Services access levels are available: First, the Reader level gives the user read-only access to the SharePoint content. Second, the Contributor level lets the user add content to existing SharePoint files. Third, the Web Designer level lets the user create lists, libraries, and custom SharePoint content. Fourth, the Administrator level gives the user control of the SharePoint portal. By default, all user accounts are assigned Reader-level access to the SharePoint portal site.

Next, the wizard presents the Address Information screen, which will display the address information that was given to the server setup wizard during the server-side installation. Typically, this information is the company address. If you configure users who work remotely, you can change the automatically provided company address to the remote user's address.

The Add User Wizard now presents the Disk Quota configuration dialog box. By default, no disk quota is enabled. However, if you create a custom user-account template, you can automate a standard disk quota. Keep in mind that this quota, if you choose to set it, applies only to the network share on which the user's home directory resides. You can configure quotas even for users with full administrative rights.

Setting Up the Client Computer
If you were to stop here, the user account you're setting up would be completely configured. However, the Add User Wizard offers configuration options for setting up a client computer for this user. Configuring the computer begins when the Add User Wizard names the computer username01.

In earlier versions of SBS, to configure a computer that you wanted to add to the SBS domain, you needed to take a floppy disk to the computer and download the configuration manually. In SBS 2003, installing the computer configuration is now the purview of a special Web page and ActiveX control. During the initial user setup, the user goes to the local Web page http://servername/connectcomputer and downloads the ActiveX control, which automates the computer's addition to the SBS network and its configuration as a client computer in that network.

So that you can configure the applications that the ActiveX control will push to the new client computer, the Add User Wizard takes you to the Client Application dialog box. Four applications are configured by default to be pushed to a client computer. If these applications are already installed on the computer, the system will ignore the push. If the applications are already installed on the client computer and you deselect them in the Client Application dialog box, they remain installed on the client. The dialog box presents the default applications as:

  1. Client Operating System Service Packs
  2. Internet Explorer 6.0
  3. Microsoft Outlook 2003
  4. Shared Fax Client

Pushing service packs first is a great idea. Making certain that your clients all use the same service pack version of their OS software, as well as making certain that they have the most recent service pack, is a very important detail.

Clicking the Advanced button in the Client Application dialog box lets you select the client computer configuration options that you want to apply to the client computer. By default, the following options are selected:

  1. Internet Explorer Settings—configures the Favorites menu and Internet connection options
  2. Outlook Profile Settings—configures how Outlook connects to the Microsoft Exchange Server
  3. Desktop Settings—adds shortcuts and share links to My Network Places
  4. Fax printer—installs and configures the fax printer
  5. Printers—installs and configures printers that have been published to Active Directory (AD)
  6. Fax Configuration—provides synchronization between client and server for fax data
  7. Remote Desktop—enables Remote Desktop for Windows XP clients only

You can configure the application push to let the target computer's user modify the applications that the push installs. By default, target users aren't allowed to modify the application installation.

You can configure additional applications in addition to the SBS 2003 default applications to deploy to users. To do so, click Edit Applications in the Client Applications dialog box to launch the Setup Client Applications Wizard. Although the wizard won't let you edit any of the default applications, it will help you add a new application to deploy. First, however, you must copy the application's installation files to the SBS 2003 server. Microsoft recommends that you add a folder for the application to the ClientApps folder that already exists on your SBS server and in which the default applications reside.

To test this capability, I created a folder under the ClientApps folder and copied the Microsoft Office XP distribution files into the folder. I then clicked Edit Applications. After I entered the path to the new application, the wizard added the application to SBS 2003's default list of applications to be installed. Then, SBS pushed a shortcut to the client computer's desktop that launched the Office XP setup program.

After you configure the applications you want your users to install, the Add Users Wizard prompts you to decide whether to add support for mobile and offline use by asking whether you want the Connection Manager and ActiveSync installed on the client. Whereas ActiveSync will be familiar to any Pocket PC device users, the Connection Manager is a new feature in SBS 2003 that lets remote users connect to a special Web site and establish a desktop session with any correctly configured computer on your LAN. To all appearances, this Web site installs the Remote Display Protocol ActiveX control on the client, but according to Microsoft, the ActiveX control that's installed is specific to SBS 2003. When you set up mobile or remote clients to support this feature, you give them a method of accessing your business network in addition to a VPN or dial-up session.

Your final step completes the Add User Wizard. The wizard presents a summary of the information you've supplied and the options you've selected, which you can print or send by email to save for your records. Clicking Finish sends the wizard off to generate the user account setup. As setup is going on, a dialog box tells you when the user account is being created, when the group membership settings are being configured, and when the client computer is being configured. Finally, the wizard presents a dialog box that instructs you where to point the Web browser on the client computer to run the client installation. In my tests, the URL presented was http://DPC-SBS2003/ConnectComputer. You have the option to disable that informational message.

Connecting from the SBS 2003 Client
Now that you've completed the client computer configuration from the server, let's take a look at what happens on the client. In my tests, I opened http://DPC-SBS2003/ConnectComputer from the client computer and reached a Web page called Network Configuration. The page asked me to enter the computer user's logon name and password for the SBS network. After I did so, I clicked the "Connect to the network now" link, which prompted me to download and run the SBS Network Configuration Wizard.

The wizard displayed the name of the user that I had assigned to the computer. If you need to run multiple user profiles on one computer, you can setup additional user accounts for the machine.) After the wizard ran, I clicked the desktop icons it left behind to install the applications I configured for deployment to the selected user, in this case the full installation of Office XP.