Configuring Unicode Options for Outlook 2003

Microsoft Office Outlook® 2003 can now provide full Unicode® support. Using Outlook in Unicode mode is especially advantageous for organizations with multilingual needs and — because Outlook Unicode-formatted files have higher storage capacities than non-Unicode files — for users who need very large Outlook files.

Taking advantage of Unicode support in Outlook depends on users' Microsoft Exchange Server version and other criteria that are checked when users run Outlook. If the criteria for using Unicode are met and users are running in Unicode mode, Unicode is used throughout Outlook when used with Exchange Server (for e-mail messages, the Address Book, and so forth).

To determine whether to use Unicode mode or non-Unicode (ANSI) mode, Outlook evaluates a set of requirements and options. One requirement for Unicode mode is that users must have Exchange 2000 or later accounts. Outlook also checks the formats — Unicode or ANSI — of users' Offline Store (OST) files and the default archive files. Finally, Outlook checks the format of users' PST files that are used as a delivery location (if any).

Switching between Unicode mode and non-Unicode mode (ANSI) can cause data loss in multilingual text fields or prevent text from being readable. For this reason, users who begin using Outlook in Unicode mode should continue to use Unicode mode.

If you want users in your organization to use Unicode for Outlook, you can use several methods to deploy Outlook so users can run in Unicode mode. One deployment option is to encourage Unicode usage by establishing an environment in which, for most users, the criteria that Outlook checks to allow Unicode mode are met. Unicode is used by default if the criteria are met, unless you set options to use ANSI. Another option is to require Unicode for Outlook usage (when supported by an appropriate Exchange Server version) by setting options that create new Unicode user files automatically, if that is necessary for Outlook to run in Unicode mode. Or you can use a combination of these approaches.

Coordinating Cached Exchange Mode and Unicode deployment

If you plan to deploy Cached Exchange Mode with Outlook 2003, you may want to configure and deploy options for migrating users to Unicode mode first. Cached Exchange Mode synchronizes users OST and Offline Address Book (OAB) files with Exchange Server data. When you deploy Unicode options to users, synchronizing OST and OAB files might also be required.

For example, Outlook files are synchronized with Exchange Server in the following Unicode deployment scenarios:

  • When you deploy a new offline Outlook profile — for example, to move current offline users to Unicode mode — Outlook synchronizes OST and OAB files, after creating the new files for users as part of the new profile.
  • When Outlook users are moved to an Exchange 2003 server with a Unicode OAB, the new OAB is downloaded.

In scenarios like these, you may want to wait to deploy Cached Exchange Mode until after you have deployed Unicode options for your organization. This will help minimize the load on your Exchange servers and the time users spend downloading data to their computers.

Facilitating usage of Unicode mode by Outlook

Using Unicode for messaging and other Outlook features has benefits that you may want your users to be able to take advantage of, without mandating that everyone migrate to Unicode mode directly when Outlook 2003 is installed. To facilitate greater usage of Unicode mode, you can help provide a messaging environment configured to help Outlook be able to run in Unicode mode.

Since Outlook uses Unicode mode by default if all criteria it looks for are met, take steps to make sure that the requirements are met, such as the following:

  1. By using the Custom Installation Wizard, create a new Outlook profile to deploy to users. By default, a new offline profile creates a new OST file for users and a new default archive file, both of which will use the new Unicode file format.
  2. Ensure that in the new Outlook profile, users' Exchange accounts are on Exchange Server 2000 or later.
  3. Deploy Outlook to your users.

You can deploy Outlook using your organization's standard Office deployment method.

It is straightforward to create and customize a new Outlook profile by using the Custom Installation Wizard.

To create new Outlook offline profiles for users

  1. In the Custom Installation Wizard, on the Outlook: Customize Default Profile page, click New Profile.
  2. In the Profile name box, type a name for the new Outlook profile, and then click Next.
  3. On the Outlook: Specify Exchange Settings page, click the Configure an Exchange server connection radio button.
  4. In the User Name box, leave the default user name system variable or enter a different variable.
  5. In the Exchange Server box, enter the name of an Exchange server. (The Exchange server name will be replaced with the correct Exchange server when the user starts Outlook for the first time after upgrading.)

Note that the Exchange server with the user account must be running Exchange 2000 or later for Outlook to run in Unicode mode.

  1. Click More Settings.
  2. On the Microsoft Exchange Server page, select the Enable offline use check box to deploy a new OST file, and then click OK.
  3. Click Next.

After completing your customizations for Outlook in the Custom Installation Wizard, you click Finish to create a transform (MST file), and then deploy Outlook to your organization with this transform. For example, you might use Microsoft Systems Management Services (SMS) or Group Policy software installation to deploy Office software. Other options include having users run an Outlook Setup command line from the administrative installation point or creating a custom CD and providing it to your users.

Group Policy Tip     Unicode format is used for new PST files by default. You can also set a policy to enforce Unicode format for new PST files. In Group Policy, using the Outlook ADM file (Outlk11.adm), go to User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Microsoft Office Outlook 2003\Miscellaneous\PST Settings and double-click Preferred PST Mode (Unicode/ANSI). Click the Enabled radio button to enable configuring the policy, and then in the Choose a default format for new PSTs drop-down list, select Enforce Unicode PST.

Enforcing Unicode mode for Outlook users

There may be scenarios in which it is important that all users in an organization are migrated to use Unicode mode in Outlook when Outlook 2003 is installed, without modifying all users' profiles. You can enforce migrating users to Unicode by making sure that the criteria that Outlook uses for determining if users run in Outlook mode are met, or that Outlook takes steps to help ensure that Unicode file formats are used in users' profiles by creating and synchronizing new Outlook files if necessary.

The first criterion for using Unicode mode is that users must use Outlook with Exchange Server 2000 or later.

Next, Outlook checks the format of a user's OST file to determine if the file format is Unicode or non-Unicode (ANSI). If the format of the OST file is ANSI, Outlook will run in ANSI mode. However, you can set a policy so that when Outlook checks the file format, if a user has an ANSI OST file, a new Unicode OST file is automatically created and synchronized with Exchange Server. You can define the policy so that users are prompted with a dialog box that notifies them that their new OST file is about to be synchronized with the Exchange server, so users can confirm to proceed with the update at that time. Or you can require that new OST files be created without providing users the option to defer the action.

Outlook next checks the file format for the user's default archive file (if one exists). You can set a policy that will automatically create a new Unicode default archive file as well. (Users can still access ANSI archive files.) Unlike the policy that manages new Unicode OST files, you cannot provide the option for users to defer creation of a new default archive file.

Finally, if a user's mail delivery location is a PST file, Outlook checks the delivery PST file to determine if the file format is Unicode. However, you cannot require a new Unicode PST file to be created to replace the existing PST file if Outlook determines that a user has an ANSI PST file. In this scenario — where Outlook delivers to ANSI PST files and you want to require Unicode mode for users — you can instead create and deploy new profiles to users with the delivery location set to new PST files, which will be Unicode by default.

Pointing Outlook to use a new delivery PST file automatically — without users themselves specifying the change — might lead users to believe that their existing mail has vanished. Older mail is still in the original PST file but that file is no longer in the user's profile and is therefore not accessible by default. Users would need to manually add the older PST file back to their profile to access the information. Because the PST file being removed from the user profile can be perceived as data loss by users —though the data still exists, it is not where users can readily see and access it — the option to automatically switch to a new Unicode PST is not provided.

You may want to carefully time the implementation of the policies that might create and populate new Unicode files. When Outlook creates and synchronize new Unicode OSTs and default archive files, users must wait for server data to be downloaded. You should also make sure that users have synchronized with Exchange Server prior to the new policies taking effect. Any local changes that have not been synchronized — such as e-mail messages in a user's Outbox or updates to Contacts information — will be lost.

To enforce Unicode mode in Outlook

  1. In Group Policy, load the Outlook 2003 template (Outlk11.adm).
  2. Under User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Microsoft Office Outlook 2003, click Exchange Settings.
  3. Double-click Exchange Unicode Mode — Ignore Archive Format.
  4. Click the Enabled radio button to enable configuring the policy.
  5. Select the Ignore existing format of the Archive PST check box, and then click OK.
  6. Double-click Exchange Unicode Mode — Ignore OST Format.
  7. Click the Enabled radio button to enable configuring the policy.
  8. In the Choose whether existing OST format determines mailbox mode drop-down list, select Create new OST if format doesn't match mode. Users will be prompted for the file name of the new OST file.

–or –

To prompt users with a dialog box allowing them to defer creating a new OST, select Prompt to create new OST if format doesn't match mode. Users will be prompted to decide whether to create the new OST file now or later, and then (if they choose to create the file now) for the file name of the new OST file.

–or –

To avoid any user prompts, select OST Format determines mode.

  1. Click OK.

After completing your customizations for Outlook in the Custom Installation Wizard, you click Finish to create a transform (MST file), and then deploy Outlook to your organization.

Using Unicode format for Outlook messages dragged to the desktop

When you use the Microsoft Windows® drag-and-drop feature to drag an Outlook item to the Windows desktop, the format of the file that is automatically created is Unicode by default. You can configure a default option by using the Custom Installation Wizard to use ANSI for the message format instead of Unicode.

To use Unicode format for message files that are dragged to the desktop from Outlook

  1. In the Custom Installation Wizard, on the Change Office User Settings page, click the plus sign (+) next to Microsoft Office Outlook 2003.
  2. Under Tools | Options\Other\Advanced, double-click MSG Unicode format when dragging to file system.
  3. Click the Apply Changes radio button.
  4. Clear the Check to set messages as Unicode format. Uncheck for ANSI. check box.
  5. Click OK.

 Note    If you drag an Outlook item into the body of a message that you are composing when using Microsoft Office Word 2003 as your e-mail editor, the format of the item will be ANSI regardless of the setting specified in the MSG Unicode format when dragging to file system policy. However, if you drag the item to the Attachments box in the message instead, the file format policy will be followed.

Related links

Applies to:
Deployment Center 2003