The Outlook 98 Deployment Kit lets you install customized
versions of Outlook and Internet Explorer across your
networks without users doing much at all.
Extend Your Enterprise Reach with the ODK
The Outlook 98 Deployment Kit lets you install customized
versions of Outlook and Internet Explorer across your
networks without users doing much at all.
- By Bill Heldman
- January 01, 1999
Imagine youre one of only two network administrator/customer
support professionals for a group of 200 users. You have
Exchange Server 5.5 installed and working flawlessly.
The majority of your users are happily working away on
Windows 95, all on the current Exchange client. Internet
e-mail flows out of the SMTP gateway just fine.
But Microsoft insists on continuing its product development
and refinement, so youre now faced with the Outlook
98 client program. You install it on your PC for testingbut
suddenly, much sooner that youd like, its
time to install it on your users computers. Management,
who keeps up on this stuff, can see all kinds of uses
for Outlook 98: shared calendaring, Web forms, journaling,
and contacts, among others. Your boss tells you that she
wants you to upgrade all 200 desktops to Outlook 98 right
away. If there are any users currently using Schedule+,
she wants them to start using Outlooks calendar.
She doesnt want Active Desktop turned on at any
of the computers. And, oh, while youre at it, she
says, upgrade the clients from Internet Explorer 3 to
IE 4 as well. Then point them all to the intranet home
page instead of the Internet. Furthermore, there are a
few people who dont have IE 3 now, and she doesnt
want them to have IE 4 either.
Your Mission, Jim
A daunting task! There are a gazillion things you can
control with an Outlook 98 installation: Where are my
personal folders? Should I allow a font change for replies
to e-mail? Should I change the cursor or put up a notification
box when users get mail? And so on. If thats not
bad enough, IE 4 is perhaps an even larger product, requiring
thought and input on a variety of esoteric topics such
as proxy server addresses and certificate and ratings
Its going to take you several months to visit each
and every client and set up these two programs. By then
Microsoft will have shipped Outlook 2000 (if it hasnt
already!), and youll have to start all over again.
Not to mention that while youre out tearing around
the countryside installing Outlook 98, other users with
legitimate customer support problems are going begging.
vs. Outlook Express
|In messing around with the
ODK, we found a file that you can bundle
with your installation as other
components. (Other Components
shows up early on in the ODK process,
so watch out for it.) This file turns
off installation of the Outlook Express
icon on the desktop, an icon thats
confusing for users. Users see both the
Outlook Express icon and the Outlook icon
and arent sure which e-mail program
to use. For some reason Ive found
that users tend to gravitate to Outlook
Express when given a choice of the two
and no advice.
Administrators have the ability to
include this turn off the icon
file in their installation program so
that the suppression of the Outlook
Express icon occurs. It works quite
well. The files name is OL98QFE2.EXE
and at last check was available from
You may also be able to find it on TechNet.
Even if you suppress the showing of
the Outlook Express or IE4 icons on
a users desktop, theyre
still available in directories on the
users computer. Super-users can
surf and find them anyway.
The Cavalry Arrives!
But waitwhats this? Among the Exchange 5.5
installation CDs, you find one with a novel name: Outlook
98 Deployment Kit, or ODK for short. (Note: The ODK is
also referred to as the Outlook 98 Deployment Wizard.
The two terms are basically interchangeable.) You pop
it in the CD player on your computer; after perusing the
help files and readmes you realize youve discovered
the Rosetta stone for the project you need to accomplish.
The ODK, once installed on your computer, will allow
you to set up the Outlook 98 and IE 4 installation files
with the requirements youve been given. The ODK
will copy the installation files to a network drive (or
local drive) of your choice. Once its there, you
can choose to either share out the directory and allow
users to install from what theyll see as a CD,
or send out an SMS package that includes all of the necessary
installation files. Furthermore, you can set it up so
that the job runs silently, not bothering to ask the user
anything. You can even customize your installation in
a variety of ways, including putting a customized title
bar on the IE 4 browser window.
When you install the ODK on your computer, youll
find that the help screens are in the new HTML format.
They dont have much detailed information; most of
the help information seems conceptual. But as you move
through the five basic ODK sections, youll discover
that the coders at Microsoft have done a wonderful job
in preparing this little software tool. All you have to
do is answer questions!
There are five sections to the ODK:
- Gathering information. This requires your
companys name, the CD key number (from the ODK
jewel case), and the folder where you want to place
- Specifying active setup parameters, including
available components, custom components, and trusted
- Customizing active setup. You make setup decisions
for the package, including the location of Outlook 98
on the users machine, and silent install.
- Customizing Outlook 98 setup options and Internet
- Customizing user settings, including restrictions
and server addresses.
You can get as carried away with setting up the package
as youd like, up to and including setting up customized
URLs, software channels, certificates, and other associated
goodies. You can use the Internet Explorer Administration
Kit (IEAK) to accomplish some of this work. (Note: The
IEAK is designed for the tight tweaking and administration
of Internet Explorer to desktops. The ODK allows for some
IEAK-like adjustments, but not with the granularity that
the IEAK supplies.) [For more information about the
IEAK see, The IEAK Explained, by Chris Brooke
in the April 1998 issue.Ed.] Be forewarned that
youll need a Verisign ID or equivalent for any digital
signing that you do when including customized work with
IEAK. Although the ODK tries to persuade you that a Verisign
ID is required with customized files, its not.
Question after Question
As you move through the myriad of screens, youll
answer dozens of questions about the setup. The ODK keeps
track of version numbers and allows you to assign a meaningful
name (called the Configuration Identifier)
to each version, so you can figure out how many times
youve been through the program. The default is 126.96.36.199
and the configuration identifier is empty. As you update
the program (trust me, youll update the program)
the version will increment to 188.8.131.52, 184.108.40.206, and so
on. In the configuration identifier you can enter a meaningful
string like Turn off journaling to use as
a descriptor for why you performed this compilation. Figure
1 shows this very cool version information boxsort
of a poor persons SourceSafe.
|Figure 1. The ODK Version Information
dialog lets you track which customization youre
Youre prompted for the language you want to install,
the default being English. Youll find other languages
on the CD, along with instructions for installing them.
Youre asked whether you want the user to have Active
Desktop enabled, what directory Outlook 98 should be installed
in, whether to enable channels and, if so, what channels.
One of the more useful features is the ability to customize
the Links page on IE. For example, you may work in a shop
where lots of environmental concerns need to be looked
at. You can opt to customize the Links page by deleting
the suggested URLs and including URLs that point to the
Environmental Protection Agency or other Web sites that
are important to your business.
You can also opt for a silent installation. Additionally,
you can choose not to install IE. What this actually means
is that some IE 4 components will be installed, but the
icons wont show up. In fact, upon rebooting and
logging into Windows 95, users will temporarily see the
IE 4 banner.
In installing IE 4, you can also choose not to display
the IE 4 welcome page (that annoying little URL that sends
you out to Microsoft so you can register your software),
and you can include customized URLs pointing to your favorite
search site and establishing the home page. (Careful here.
We were trying to point the home page to our intranet
main page and found that for lack of a missing forward
slash IE 4 erred upon launching. If, for example, you
want to point to http://myserver/intranet/mainpage.htm,
you should probably make the URL read http://myserver/intranet/mainpage.htm/
instead.) One of the things youll notice while running
the ODK is that it looks at the computer youre currently
using to compile the program as its source of Outlook
98 add-on components. Figure 2 shows what the screen looks
like after the program has queried your hard drive for
components. These are going to be offered to your users;
this means that if youre going to offer a content-rich
installation, youll have to have a complete installation
of Outlook 98 and IE4 on your computer in order to finish
|Figure 2. The ODK uses Outlook
98 components installed on the local hard drive.
Youll get the chance to configure the three installation
optionsminimal, standard, and fullusing the
components found on your computer. But if youre
using SMS to send out the package, youll have only
one installation type to pick fromthe type that
you select as you move through the screens. In other words,
when you get to the installation type, if you select Minimal
and then click Next, the program assumes a minimal installation
and bundles with it all the components youve designated
to be included as a part of the Minimal installation.
On the other hand, if you choose to allow users to install
the product as though from a CD share, theyll have
all three choices and commensurate goodies that youve
chosen to allow to be installed with each installation
type. For example, if you choose to remove the VDOLive
Player component from the Standard installation and the
user installs from a network share point and selects Standard
as the installation type, that user wont get VDOLive
Player installed. The bottom line: Youre controlling
virtually every installation choice and component when
you run the ODK.
Youll get a sense, as you run through the ODK,
of the tight integration that Microsoft has built into
Outlook 98 and IE 4.
Tips to Installation
|After going through plenty
of deployments using the Outlook 98 Deployment
Kit, I have 10 pieces of advice for you.
- First and foremost, test, test,
test! Even the program, when finished
compiling, advises you to test
thoroughly. Youll find
that even after testing, when you
think the thing is airtight, youll
have some hiccups that you need to
correct. If youre using SMS
to send the package out, send it to
a small test machine group at first.
Then, when you think youve got
the holes filled, send it to a small
machine group of production users,
and continue on from there. Dont
just haul off and send it out to all
users at once. Time your deployment!
Remember that things you left untouched
wind up being not included or not
turned on during the user installation.
- Also realize that the IE 4 icons
are out there even in a dont
include IE 4 installation (though
theyre not visible on the desktop).
Thus, a power user could easily set
things up to surf the net.
- If you lock the users computer
down too tightly (definitely within
the realm of possibilities), remember
that you wont be able to do
anything with that users computer
without some registry hacking. Its
better to leave the door open a little
bit. For example, its possible,
within the user customization settings
screens, to turn off the ability to
launch Control Panel. Then, when the
user calls you for help, you cant
access Control Panel to see whats
going on! It doesnt take too
many of those Catch-22s to make you
pay attention to the ODK process.
- How do you handle some clients
getting IE 4 and others not? Make
two passes through the ODK and have
the installation files copied to two
different directories. On the non-IE
screen youll see a checkbox
allowing you to turn off installation
of IE 4. Dont choose to change
any IE 4 settings. Also, in the user
customization settings screens youll
find a checkbox to block any IE icons.
- Dont discount the channels
option too early. Its possible
for you to set up software to download
channels later on, as well as to create
push channels for your intranet using
FrontPage 98. If you disable channels
and decide to use them later, guess
wholl be sorry?
- Users who have been using the Exchange
client and IE 3 wont see a change
to their Exchange profile, even though
you point to a different profile name
in the ODK. Also, they wont
see the IE 4 icon on their desktop
even though IE 4 starts when they
launch the program.
- We couldnt figure out a way
to automate importing a users
old Schedule+ calendar into the new
Outlook calendar and ended up doing
a manual process for each user who
needed it. There may be a method out
there, but we arent aware of
it. Users who followed our instructions
when importing their Schedule+ files
became confused when they were prompted
as to whether they wanted their old
Schedule+ files deleted from the server
or noteven though we told them
it was OK in the instructions. It
turns out that a lot of the users
didnt read the instructions.
Go figure. Users also got confused
at the prompt asking them if they
wanted Outlook to be their default
contacts and tasks manager.
- We also couldnt figure out
a way to turn off the help avatars
(Einstein, kitty cat, etc.), nor could
we get Outlook 98s two annoying
advertisement e-mail messages to stop
posting in the users inboxes
upon initial startup. Also, it appeared
to us that there was no way to turn
on the advanced menu bar and hence
display the folders pane (though you
may find an answer to this in your
experimenting). All of these may translate
into your having to create an instruction
sheet or visit the client so you can
- You may remember that the IE 4
installation, upon reboot, takes up
another five to 10 minutes of your
time while it prepares your computers
settings for the first time. This
is obvious to users (the system is
blocked from other use) but it needs
to be pointed out to them ahead of
- Finally, and most important, communicate
with your users! If you put yourself
in the position of the average user,
youll find that most have a
certain set of functions theyve
learned how to do within any software
product, and thats about as
far as they want to go. Maybe theyve
just gotten comfortable with the Exchange
client, and now youre going
to throw the Outlook 98 client at
thema client with far more windows
and features to confuse them. Youll
have to figure out some way to communicate
that, even though the product looks
and acts a little differently, its
functions are mostly the same. An
intranet is a perfect way to accomplish
this because you can point your IE
4 installation to an intranet page
and then use training pages (possibly
even NetShow) to get users up to speed.
Deciding for Your Users
After answering the basic setup questions, you get down
to the nitty-gritty of user customization screens. Heres
where you can drill into the fine details of what you
allow your users to do. You can, for example, turn off
the Channel UI on IE 4 so that even if your users wanted
to, they couldnt subscribe to Disneys Web
channel. You can disable just about anything in either
Outlook 98 or IE 4.
In fact, if you dont touch an item, that item isnt
selected for the user. When we were configuring the user
screens for our deployment, we found out the hard way
that Outlook 98 journaling was turned off! Why? Because
we hadnt made any decisions about journaling, we
left the boxes blank. The HKEY_Users\Default\Software\Microsoft\SharedTools\Outlook\Journaling
keys thus werent populated. This translated into
a problem when a user tried to create a journal entry
via a contact in Outlook 98 and generated an insufficient
memory or resources error.
The moral of the story is to look at each item that you
think your users will have interaction with and then make
a decision about that item. If youre never going
to use NetMeeting to set up virtual conferencing, then
leave the NetMeeting and LDAP settings untouched. But
if you think that at some point you may get into group
collaboration, make some preemptory decisions now about
The user customization screen looks very similar to the
tree style that Microsoft has gone with in other programs
of late. You select a category, click the plus sign to
see the objects within that category, then click the object
you want to edit and change its settings accordingly.
The dual-paned window shows the object tree on the left
and the object settings screens on the right. Figure 3
shows a sample of the Outlook 98 and IE 4 user customization
|Figure 3. Outlook 98 and IE 4
user customization settings screens.
Once youve designated user customization settings,
you come to one final screen where youre allowed
to pass in any customized registry settings. Then the
program compiles and prepares the directories and cabinet
files necessary for a client installation point. Compilation
is about a five-minute process, so be patient.
The ODK was designed for use with SMS or to be used as
a CD sharepoint for users. If youre going the CD-as-network-component
route, all of the necessary installation files are set
up in a directory called CD, with Setup.exe as your starting
point. However, users who run Setup.exe will be privy
to the full bevy of messages that come from installing
If youre running SMS, youd logically want
to use the Package/Job methodology to send the files to
users. One caution here: The silent installation option
is so good that users dont know when the thing is
done running and theyre ready for reboot. Weve
had a variety of client experiences where some users followed
our instructions and watched the computer, listening and
looking for hard drive activity to make sure the job was
done, only to reboot mid-job and require a reinstallation.
Others allowed the job to run to completion but then tried
to run the Outlook program (the icons show up on the desktop
but, of course, the registry hasnt been re-read)
only to find mysterious DLL errors.
Youll probably want to come up with some method
to alert users that the package has finished running.
We toyed with the idea of running the whole thing through
the SMS Installer program after it had been compiled so
that we could attach a finished message. (We tried a batch
file that called the program and then put up an Im
done statement, but it worked only marginally well.)
Since we were working with users whod never used
Package Command Manager (PCM) before, we opted to simply
visit different groups of users at a sitting and watch
the program execute with them.
Figure 4 shows what the directory tree looks like. Note
that the directory structure is CD\EN\PACKAGES and that
SETUP.EXE is run from within this directory if using SMS.
If youre setting up a CD share, youll want
to share out the CD directory and instruct users on how
to map to it and install the files (or set up another
SMS package and job for this installation type).
|Figure 4. The final directory
I Did It Myyyyyy Way
Now that you know the ODK is out there, I hope youll
try it. Its a solid, reliable tool for creating
trouble-free Outlook 98 and IE 4 installation packages.
There are some gotchas to watch out for, yes. And were
not saying that all of your users will sail through the
process (of our 200 users, we had about a two percent
problem ratio), though youll be surprised at how
well the ODK works and how smoothly it installs. In short,
the ODK gives you a tool to automate and deploy two very
large and complicated applications without having to stay
up nights worrying about how youre going to get