Microsoft® Office Outlook® 2003 supports Unicode® and provides full support for multilingual data. If your users work in a multinational organization or share messages and items with people who use Outlook on systems that run in other languages, they can take advantage of Unicode support in Outlook. In addition, a new file format for Outlook files that supports Unicode can store more data than file formats from earlier versions of Outlook.
Using Unicode mode in Outlook
Previous versions of Outlook provided support for multilingual Unicode data in the body of e-mail messages. However, Outlook data — such as the To and Subject lines of messages and the ContactName and BusinessTelephoneNumber properties of contact items — was limited to characters defined by your system code page. Outlook 2003 no longer has this limitation, provided Outlook is running in Unicode mode with Microsoft Exchange Server as the messaging server.
Outlook 2003 can run in one of two mailbox modes with an Exchange messaging server: Unicode or non-Unicode. Unicode mode is recommended and is the default mode if the configurations of the user's profile, Exchange server, and administrator settings allow it. The mode is automatically determined by Outlook based on these settings, and it cannot be changed manually by the user. An administrator can deploy settings that can change the default behavior or limit the ability of users to use Unicode.
POP3 accounts can also support multilingual Unicode data in Outlook 2003, provided that items are delivered to a Personal Folders file (PST file) that can support multilingual Unicode data. By default, new POP3 profiles that deliver to a new PST file created in Outlook 2003 support multilingual Unicode data.
Note Other accounts, such as IMAP and HTTP, do not support Unicode.
Running Outlook in Unicode mode enables users to work with messages and items that are composed in different languages, but if you prefer, you can configure Outlook so that your users run in non-Unicode mode with Exchange server accounts.
Switching between Unicode mode and non-Unicode mode can cause data loss or make text unreadable. For this reason, users who begin using Outlook in Unicode mode should continue to use Unicode mode.
How Unicode works better for users in multilingual environments
Non-Unicode systems typically use a code page based environment, in which each script has its own table of characters. Items based on the code page of one operating system rarely map well to the code page of another operating system. In some cases, the items cannot contain text that uses characters from more than one script.
Running Outlook in Unicode mode with Exchange Server also helps ensure that, by default, Offline Folder files (OST files) and Personal Folders files (PST files) used in the Outlook profile are able to store multilingual Unicode data. In addition, Unicode files in Outlook provide greater storage capacity for items and folders.
A new Outlook file format supports Unicode
In Outlook 2003, an enhanced file format for PST and OST files offers greater storage capacity for items and folders, and supports multilingual Unicode data. An Outlook file with this format is not compatible with previous versions of Outlook and cannot be opened in a previous version of Outlook.
Outlook automatically determines the format in which PST and OST files are created based on the version of Microsoft Exchange Server, administrator settings, and formats of the data files that are configured for the profile.
If settings for Outlook or other characteristics of a user's Outlook profile do not allow a file to be created in the new format, Outlook creates the file in the format that is compatible with previous versions of Outlook. The earlier file format (called Microsoft Outlook 97-2002 Personal Folder File) does not support Unicode and offers the same storage capacity that was available in previous versions of Outlook.
For more information on configuring Unicode settings for Outlook as part of your Outlook 2003 deployment, see Configuring Unicode Options for Outlook 2003.
Using the Unicode character encoding standard enables almost all written languages in the world to be represented by using a single character set. In Microsoft Windows® operating systems, the two standard systems of storing text — code pages and Unicode — coexist. But Unicode-based systems are replacing code page based systems. For more information about using Unicode with Microsoft Office 2003, see Unicode Support and Multilingual Office Documents.