Configuring Outlook for Roaming Users

Roaming users move between different computers on a network. With Microsoft® Office 2003, these users can move between computers without changing the way that they work, provided the necessary configurations are made. Users’ documents and their application settings for Microsoft Office Outlook® 2003 and other Office applications travel with them, along with any system preferences. In order for users to roam between computers, the following criteria must be met:

  • Users can only roam between computers that have the same version of Outlook installed.
  • You must set up roaming user profiles on your Microsoft Windows® network. For more information about configuring Windows servers to support roaming users, see your Windows documentation.

You can help ensure a smooth roaming experience for Outlook users in your organization by following several recommended strategies and options.

Recommended strategies for Outlook roaming

Roaming with Outlook 2003 works only between computers that are set up with the same operating system and the same versions of the software. The following recommendations will help ensure a smooth roaming experience for users:

  • Roam between platforms on the same version of the same operating system.

For example, Microsoft Windows 2000 to Microsoft Windows 2000. Supported platforms are Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 and later, and Windows XP and later.

  • Ensure that users store Outlook information on a server (such as Microsoft Exchange Server) rather than on network shares or in local files (such as PST files).
  • Ensure that Cached Exchange Mode is not configured for users with Microsoft Exchange Server accounts.

Offline Store (OST) files used with Cached Exchange Mode do not roam. If user accounts are configured with Cached Exchange Mode, a new OST file will be created on each computer a user roams to.

  • Ensure that the same operating system language version is installed on all computers that users roam between.
  • Ensure that the same language version and release version of Outlook are installed on all computers that users roam between.
  • Install Outlook on all computers for roaming users as per-computer.

Installing as per-user is also possible but is not recommended.

  • Install Outlook in the same location on all computers that will be used for roaming users.

Upgrading roaming users to Outlook 2003

If your organization already has roaming configured for Outlook users, take care that when you upgrade to Outlook 2003, users only roam between computers running the same version of Outlook. If you have roaming users on an older version of Outlook, be sure to upgrade all users and computers in a single area (such as a domain) at the same time.

If users roam between computers that have different versions of Outlook installed, compatibility issues are likely to arise. For example, new features in Outlook 2003 are not available to users with Outlook 2002 profiles, which can create confusion for users roaming in an environment with a mix of Outlook versions.

Using network shares with roaming Outlook users

When you enable roaming and specify a network share for roaming files, certain files and folders are automatically available for users when they roam to different computers. Files and folders in the location defined by the environment variable %UserProfile% (on the local computer) roam with users, with the exception of one folder.

The one folder that does not roam with users in the default roaming scenario is the Local Settings folder in the %UserProfile% folder. This exception affects Outlook users because, by default, the file folders for some Outlook services — listed in the following table — are created in this non-roaming folder.

Service name File extension
Offline Folders (OST) .ost
Personal Folders (PST) .pst
Personal Address Book (PAB) .pab

Because the files reside in a non-roaming directory, Outlook can see and open them only on the computer on which they were created. By design, Outlook uses these files locally.

 Note    It is not a supported scenario to place PST, OST, or PAB files on a network share and configure Outlook to access the files remotely.

Related link

You have considerable flexibility in configuring and deploying Outlook 2003. For more information about using the Custom Installation Wizard to create a custom transform for deploying Outlook 2003, see Customizing Outlook Features and Installation With the Custom Installation Wizard.



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