In this chapter, we begin to cover the core objectives for the Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician (MCDST) certification. Specifically, we discuss configuration and management of Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 and Microsoft Outlook Express. We concentrate on Outlook 2003 because it will be more widely used in corporate environments, but we also keep in mind the requirements of the MCDST to be able to support small office/home office (SOHO) users who might be using Outlook Express. We begin with a tour of the available options in each program and continue with configuring each to manage mail and news. We finish with discussions of common support incidents and resolutions.
Microsoft Outlook is a flexible personal information management application. It includes powerful e-mail, messaging, calendar, and contact management functions. Coupled with Microsoft Exchange Server, it forms the backbone of many corporate communications infrastructures. The next few slides tour some of this application’s functionality and describe some of the tasks a desktop support technician will be likely to encounter. Plan to take some time to allow the students to explore this application. This might be the only opportunity many of them get to use this application before taking the exam. They need to be familiar with the options to manage mailboxes and customize the user interface to suit personal preferences. Encourage them to pay close attention to the settings in the Options dialog box. Many of these might be seen in practice and on the exam.
Use this slide as an anchor for demonstrating the features and functions in Outlook. If you are demonstrating a down-level version such as Microsoft Outlook 2002, be sure to explain the differences and similarities between the respective versions. Pay special attention to how the user’s mailbox is laid out with folders for contacts, tasks, notes, and calendars. Spend some time demonstrating some of these features so they are more familiar to the student when we begin to discuss topics such as AutoArchive. Do not be afraid to spend the better part of a classroom period helping your students become conversant with this important application. It will pay off later when they need to navigate menus and configure options.
Most instances of Outlook will be configured to use corporate Exchange servers and these connections can be handled administratively or with a third-party profile management tool. Occasionally, however, technicians will be called on to configure accounts for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), Post Office Protocol 3 (POP3), or Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) servers to support traveling users. Plan to demonstrate setting up Exchange, POP3/SMTP, and IMAP accounts if the classroom configuration will allow it. You might also have the students configure their own systems to support their campus or home e-mail accounts.
Almost any mailbox object can be imported or exported. The most common item for import is contacts. Many users have databases in spreadsheet or database applications that they wish to import into Outlook. A good exercise at this point would be to import a small contact database to demonstrate this process. In addition to manual imports, mention the automatic imports done by Outlook when it is first used after installation. If the user previously used another common e-mail application, such as Outlook Express, Outlook offers to import contacts and messages from the old application.
Outlook Express is the e-mail and news application included with the Microsoft Windows operating systems. Internet Mail and News in a former incarnation, it was renamed Outlook Express to align more closely with its big brother in the Office System. Outlook Express has much of the same e-mail and newsreader functionality as Outlook, but does not support direct connections to Exchange Server and does not include support for calendars, appointments, journals, notes, and tasks.
Use this slide as an anchor for demonstrating the features and functions in Outlook Express 6.0. Many students already have experience with this application. Use this experience to lead a discussion on the types of communications available with this versatile tool. Demonstrate, if possible, the different features of Outlook Express. Spend some time with the newsreader functionality. Many more people use this newsreader than the news function in Outlook.
Outlook Express can be configured to support POP3, IMAP, and some Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) mail servers. Mail server configuration is usually accomplished using the Internet Connection Wizard. Although this wizard is primarily used for initial setup of Microsoft Internet Explorer and its associated applications, each application can call a subset of this wizard that supports just the task at hand. Demonstrate setting up an account if your classroom configuration permits.
There are too many possible scenarios to present on slides, but these bullets can be used to generate a discussion. If the account worked previously, the technician should be looking for changes that might have caused it to stop working. If it never worked, the technician should break the account down into user and server portions and analyze each separately. For the user, double-check user name and password information. For the server, check server name and address resolution. Finally, if nothing else works, check on the server itself. They have been known to fail occasionally.
Outlook Express uses the same settings for POP3 and IMAP; they are just presented in a slightly different format. Stress the similarities in how Outlook and Outlook Express handle these types of mail accounts. Also explain that Exchange Server accounts can be accessed by Outlook Express only when the Exchange Server administrator has configured the Exchange server for POP3 or IMAP access.
Microsoft Outlook passes requests for news functionality over to Outlook Express, which includes this functionality by default. Like mail, news accounts are set up using the Internet Connection Wizard. This slide depicts the wizard setting up the Microsoft public news server. After finishing the wizard, the user is prompted to download a newsgroup list from the server. It might be worth mentioning that many public news servers carry more than 30,000 newsgroups. Obtaining this list could take some time on a dial-up connection!
After obtaining a list of available newsgroups, the user can select newsgroups for subscription. This configures Outlook Express to monitor the newsgroup for new messages. The newsgroup name appears in bold and the number of new messages appears. It might be helpful to subscribe to a few newsgroups and demonstrate some of the ways users can manage newsgroups. Some items to demonstrate might be Catch Up, Mark as Read, and Get Next 300 Headers. Also, if time permits, demonstrate the newsgroup’s Properties dialog box, which includes the file management functions to compact, remove old message bodies, or even reset the newsgroup. Many support calls will end up here as technicians help users deal with bloated or corrupted message stores.
There is little that can go wrong with news server configurations. Most public servers do not require any authentication to allow access to newsfeeds. If users are configuring an account to access a private server, they will want to configure this dialog box with a user name and password given by the server administrator.
There are several options for managing the configuration and function of Outlook Express. We have covered many of these as we discussed configuration of mail and news settings. This is a good time, however, to discuss managing the message store files and general maintenance tasks. Spend some time on the Maintenance tab of the Options dialog box. Show students the settings designed to remove deleted messages, compact the message store, and clean up message folders. Identities allow a user to maintain different—for lack of a better word—identities. Each can have its own mailboxes, mail accounts, news accounts, address books, and so on. This is a good tool for those on multiuser computers, or those who wish to keep their business accounts separate from their personal accounts.
Use the Maintenance tab of the Options dialog box to maintain mailbox size. In this centralized location, settings for purging deleted messages, compacting messages, and cleaning up mailboxes are available. Many of these settings can be found elsewhere in the application, but having them all together is convenient when you need to reduce the size of mailbox files.
Identities allow a user (or multiple users) to use the application to support multiple identities. A business user might want a separate identity for personal communications. Multiple users using the same application might want separate addresses and account settings. Identities are managed from the File menu by selecting Identities, Manage Identities. In the resulting dialog box, a user can add a new identity or change the properties of an existing identity. Once an identity is created, it begins with no mail or news accounts. The user then adds accounts and manages them exactly the same way as those in the main identity.
Many organizations enforce mailbox size limits. It becomes necessary to help end users manage their mailboxes to conform to these limits, and to help them work more efficiently. Outlook provides tools for managing message retention, junk mail, and message flow. We discuss AutoArchive, junk-mail filtering capabilities, and Rules and Alerts.
Support personnel will often get calls asking why a message that had been in a user’s mailbox the previous day is suddenly gone. Although many servers have tools for removing old messages, the most likely cause would be improperly configured AutoArchive settings. You might wish to demonstrate the effects of these settings to show your students some of the ways AutoArchive can be configured, and where to find archived messages after they have been moved or deleted.
This series of slides promotes discussion of mailbox management features such as junk-mail filtering, Inbox rules, and AutoArchive settings. Once again, plan on spending some time here. These features form a base for many of the common questions technicians see regarding Outlook. This slide in particular anchors a discussion of the junk-mail filtering functionality built into Outlook 2003. Explain how Outlook uses advanced filtering techniques to rate e-mails and filter them according to the level of protection that has been selected. Mention safe lists and block lists as tools to explicitly allow or block all messages from listed addresses or domains. Be prepared to explain how Outlook works with Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 to implement server-level filtering of junk mail.
Outlook uses rules to control what is done to messages when sent or received. Users can configure them to route incoming mail to folders based on content or sender, or they can use them to automatically copy certain individuals whenever they send messages related to certain projects or keywords. You might explain that improperly configured rules form a basis for many support calls. Show your students how to enable and disable rules to troubleshoot mail-handling problems.
Ask for a show of hands to see who has ever had trouble setting up an e-mail service on their own computers and you will probably see every hand go up. You can use these real-world experiences to discuss the types of problems a technician will encounter on the job. You might also use Outlook or Outlook Express to demonstrate the scenario and the solution.
If this slide looks familiar, it’s because the steps to troubleshoot e-mail connectivity are the same for almost any mail client. Be prepared to demonstrate the differences in where these settings exist in Outlook. If the account worked previously, the technician should be looking for changes that might have caused it to stop working. If it never worked, the technician should break the account down into user and server portions and analyze each separately. For the user, double-check user name and password information. For the server, check server name and address resolution. Finally, if nothing else works, check the server itself.
Although the E-Mail Accounts Wizard configures e-mail settings in a step-by-step fashion, it often becomes necessary to examine e-mail settings for any problems. This slide depicts the settings for a POP3/SMTP account in Outlook 2003. Describe each setting and discuss what it does.
This slide depicts the settings for an IMAP/SMTP account in Outlook 2003. You might want to describe how IMAP servers handle mail differently than POP3 servers.
Exchange Server accounts are also set up using the E-Mail Accounts Wizard. This requires a real-time connection to an Exchange Server as the wizard validates the name prior to completing.
There are more possible types of questions than we can ever cover here. You might spend some time discussing these bullets and seeing what your students have been able to discover in the short time we have spent on Outlook and Outlook Express. See who goes to the help screens, who digs into menus, and who “just knows.” Encourage your students to learn all they can about the applications they support. Expert users are able to more quickly tell what portion of the program is not performing as it should. This will greatly speed resolution of issues and improve the technician’s own ratings for call resolutions.
Accounts can be added and maintained in Outlook Express using the Accounts dialog box accessed from the Tools menu, or added using the Internet Connection Wizard. Accounts in Outlook can be added or changed in either the E-Mail Accounts Wizard or the E-Mail Accounts dialog box accessed from the Tools menu.
To manage mailbox size in Outlook Express, use the Maintenance tab of the Options dialog box. In Outlook, use the Mailbox Cleanup dialog box accessed from the Tools menu.
MICROSOFT OFFICE OUTLOOK 2003 AND MICROSOFT OUTLOOK EXPRESS Chapter 4