The Exchange 2003 Auto Accept Agent is a new tool that extends the benefits of resource scheduling to both Outlook and OWA users. Meeting organizers can schedule resources (usually meeting rooms) by adding them as a meeting attendee and sending out a meeting request. The Auto Accept Agent is an event sink that automates the response to these requests, first checking the resource’s schedule to see if it is available.
The agent has some nice features. Incoming requests are checked for conflicts with existing appointments (not free busy) in the resource’s calendar so booking is not subject to problems that arise because of latencies in free busy replication. The agent enforces a “booking window” that prevents resources from being booked too far into the future. Recurring meetings are easier to book since the agent can handle a specified number of conflicts. For example, if a recurring meeting with 10 instances has just one scheduling conflict, the agent can be configured to accept the entire recurring meeting and send a decline for the single conflict. From a security perspective no permissions need to be granted on the resource calendar, and all attachments as well as the body of the request can be optionally stripped out. Finally, the resource does not need to be specified as a “Resource” attendee – a common mistake organizers make when using Outlook’s direct booking feature.