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A Collection of Random Thoughts
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
 
Outlook 2007 and Exchange 12 autodiscovery
Let me say just one thing. It's very cool. I've got an E12 Mailbox server deployed that also hosts the Bridgehead and Client Access roles. I've also got a machine running Vista build 5342 with Office 2007 Technical Refresh on it. Office 2007 now supports automatically detecting your server settings. I have seen this before, but since Exchange 2003 doesn't support it, I haven't had a chance to use it.

So I'm setting up my Outlook profile and you have a choice of whether to manually configure server settings, or whether to have them automatically detected (automatic detection is the default). Wonder of wonders, since I was logged on with the account that had the mailbox, and since Exchange 12 supports autodiscovery, Outlook automatically configured itself without me having to do anything at all. I started to type in my name, and before I had finished typing more than a few letters, my full name and my e-mail address had automatically been filled in. See, the way that autodiscovery works is that Outlook contacts the Client Access server (which has a special http virtual directory) and presents the username and e-mail address. With that information, the Client Access server then sends back an xml file with the configuration settings and Outlook automatically configures itself.

The autodiscovery feature should make it possible for folks to using RPC/HTTPS to set up their profile from wherever they want without going through the fuss of manually entering all the information (which can be a pain) as long as a Client Access server is available for them to talk to. I'll be testing the RPC/HTTPS functionality as soon as I can. Of course, as noted above, autodiscovery works greate for regular mailbox users as well. It should reduce support time involved with assisting users in setting up Outlook profiles. Kudos to both the Exchange and Office teams for implementing this feature.
Comments:
About time too as this is a major pain when users move pc's
 
I agree this is a great feature! Too bad Microsoft had their head up their collective ass and didn't implement this feature by using pre-existing standards. (like DNS SVR records perhaps?)

This is yet another prime example of inventing new standards just to force incompatibilities upon their customers and competitors. DNS SVR records have been around for years, and microsoft even uses them for much of their domain controller DNS topology.
 
How is using IIS (Autodiscover Virtual Directory) and xml files inventing new standards? This also uses the age old standard of DNS A records.

I would expect that SRV records weren't used because the Autodiscover service needs to be (or can be) available from the Internet as well. I could be wrong here, but I don't believe that many companies (if any) publish SRV records externally, which makes the solution of using A records and xml files work just fine for just about anyone.
 
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