One question I see asked a lot is if there is a way to publish Free/Busy information for all users from the server-side. In Outlook the default is to publish 2 months of Free/Busy information per user. So is there a way to extend the default other than changing it from the client? The short answer to this question is yes, it can be done. However, this setting is not enabled on the Exchange Server; instead it is applied through Outlook XP and Outlook 2003 Group Policies. Let’s take a look at how this can be done.
The first thing we need to do is install the Policy Template files.
For Office 2003 install the Policy Template Files from the Office 2003 Editions Resource Kit Toolbox
For Office XP install the System Policy Editor and Templates from the Office XP Editions Resource Kit Toolbox
Next we will load the Office Policy Templates (.adm files) and configure the policy. In our example, we will use the Default Domain Policy; however you can choose to create a new policy specifically for this setting.
- Open Active Directory Users and Computers
- Right click on the name of your domain and go to Properties
- On the Group Policy tab, choose to Edit your Default Domain Policy
- Under User Configuration, right click on Administrative Templates
- In the Add/Remove Templates box, choose Add
- By default the .Adm files are located in Winnt\Inf folder. Choose the OUTLK11.ADM file and hit Open
- Now under Administrative Templates, expand Microsoft Office Outlook 2003
- Expand Tools\Options
- Expand Preferences
- Expand Calendar Options
- Select Free\Busy Options
- In the right-hand pane, double click on Options
- Click enabled and change months of Free/Busy information published
- If you do not wish to have users change the number of months set in the above step, check the box to “Prevent Users from changing Months of Free/Busy information being published”
- Expand Tools\Options
- To refresh your group policy settings in Windows 2003 so this change is effective immediately go to the command prompt and type:
Gpupdate /target:user /force
8a. To refresh your group policy settings in Windows 2000 so this change is effective immediately, go to a command prompt and type:
secedit /refresh user_policy /enforce
Note: When policies are being used such as the Free/Busy policy, these settings cannot be changed from the Outlook client and will be grayed out.
Outlook policies cannot be used to create profiles. However, Outlook policies can be used to do lots of other cool things. For example you can set policies to prevent the creation of offline folders, set default locations for pst files, globally enable HTML/Word as the default email editor, disable signatures from being added to outgoing messages, modify settings for Exchange cached mode and more.