Office 365: Your Automatic Reply Settings Cannot Be Displayed

We recently decommissioned our aging Exchange 2007 Server and switched to using Office 365 for Email.

One quirk of the new system was that some users were having difficulty accessing their Out Of Office (Automatic Reply) Settings when using Outlook 2010 or 2013.

Your automatic reply settings cannot be displayed because the server is currently unavailable. Try again later.

There seemed to be no real pattern to this, and many suggestions were offered, non of which worked for us.

The simple solution I eventually stumbled upon was to ensure that “Exchange Web Services” was enabled for each Mailbox within Office 365: Active Users => UserName =>  Mail Settings => Email Apps

170522 Office 365 Exchange Web Services 002
I have no idea why this is required, but it would appear that MAPI doesn’t support the full functionality of Exchange when using Outlook.


Creating a Shared Resource Calendar in Exchange 2007

It’s often handy to create a shared calendar within your organisation for booking rooms and other shared resources such as cars and laptops.

Outlook / Exchange 2007 makes this easy to achieve.

Firstly, create a shared Calendar (within Public Folders) using Outlook. For the purposes of this example, let’s call this “Pool Cars”.

Shared Calendar 001  

Shared Calendar 002

The next stage is to create the shared  resource(s). This must be done within “Exchange Management Console” on the Exchange 2007 Server (Start => All Programs => Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 => Exchange Management Console). Again, it is a simple process using the “New Mailbox” Wizard. You should choose either a “Room Mailbox” or an “Equipment Mailbox”.

Shared Calendar 011

Use the table below for completing the details within the wizard.

Mailbox Type Room Mailbox or Equipment Mailbox
User Type New User
User Information Fill in the User (Resource) Information as required.
User Logon Name PoolCar01
Password Anything valid will do (the account will be disabled)
Alias (Email Address) PoolCar01
Mailbox Database Set as per your organisation
Managed Folder Mailbox Property Set as per your organisation

Now that the Resource Mailbox has been created, it needs to be configured to “Auto Accept” Meeting Requests. This must be done within the “Exchange Management Shell” on the Exchange Server (Start => All Programs => Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 => Exchange Management Shell). Type the following command into the shell:

Set-MailboxCalendarSettings "PoolCar01" -AutomateProcessing AutoAccept

Shared Calendar 035

To check that the value has been set correctly, type:

Get-MailboxCalendarSettings “PoolCar01" | fl

That essentially completes the process. You can create as many shared resources as your organisation requires (you do not need to purchase additional CALS for these mailboxes).

Additional Notes

By default, a resource cannot be booked for more than 24 hours (1440 minutes). This setting can be adjusted using the Exchange Management Shell. The example below extends the time to 5 days (7200 minutes):

Set-MailboxCalendarSettings "PoolCar01" –MaximumDurationInMinutes 7200

Small Business Server 2008 Remote Management

Several tools are available for managing Windows Server 2008 remotely (when physical access to the server console is not possible). Normally, this would be when seated at a Windows XP or Windows 7 Workstation that is connected to the domain, either on the local network or via a VPN link.

  • Remote Desktop Session
  • Windows Server 2003 Administration Tools
  • RSAT (Remote Server Administration Tools)
  • Exchange 2007 Management Tools
  • Computer Management Snap-In

Remote Desktop Session
From the remote workstation, Start Menu => Accessories => Remote Desktop Connection. Type the Server (Computer) Name; click “Connect”; and enter the admin credentials when prompted. It is important to note that for when adding new users within a Small Business Server (SBS) environment, you MUST use a Remote Desktop Session in conjunction with the “Windows SBS Console”.

Windows Server 2003 Administration Tools (AdminPak.exe)
”AdminPak” is a download from the Microsoft Web Site. Even though these tools were designed for Server 2003, they can be installed onto a Windows XP Professional Workstation in order to administer SOME of the features of Windows Server 2008. The following can be used: Active Directory Users & Computers; Active Directory Domains & Trusts; Active Directory Sites & Services; Computer Management (see below); WINS; DHCP; Event Viewer.

RSAT (Remote Server Administration Tools)
A new set of administration tools is released for each version of Windows Server. Generally speaking, you would use Windows Server 2008 tools from a Windows Vista (or newer) Workstation (as they are both the same generation of operating system). For the same reason, you would use Windows 7 to remotely administer a Windows 2008 R2 Server. Download the appropriate version of RSAT for the server / workstation combination you wish to use. The tools must then be enabled on the workstation from within: Control Panel => Programs = Program & Features => Turn Windows Features On or Off.

Exchange 2007 Management Tool (E2K7SP1EN32)
Small Business Server 2008 includes a copy of Exchange Server 2007. The Exchange Management Tools can be downloaded from the Microsoft Web Site (and will run on Windows XP / Server 2003 SP1 or newer). Make sure Custom Install / Management Tools is selected.

Computer Management (compmgmt.msc)
For certain basic tasks (such as starting and stopping services), the standard “Computer Management” snap-in can be used from almost any workstation (including Windows XP). From within the console, just select “Connect to another computer” on the Action Menu.

Outlook 2010: Additional Microsoft Exchange Accounts cannot be added

By default, the Maximum number of Exchange Accounts allowed per Outlook Profile is 10.

A single Exchange account is normally adequate for most of us. However, it may not be if some users have gotten themselves an Office365 Email account in addition to their Corporate Email. Previously it was possible to use the Outlook Hotmail Connector to address the problem of multiple accounts, but this is not an obvious option with Office365. 

Outlook 2010 Exchange Accounts 005

If your users are are stopped in their tracks when trying adding more Exchange accounts, there is a Group Policy setting that is worth looking at:

User Configuration => Administrative Templates => Microsoft Outlook 2010 => Account Settings => Exchange => Set maximum number of Exchange accounts per profile

Outlook 2010 Exchange Accounts 002

Be sure to set this to a higher value if it is causing an issue.

Exchange 2007: Anti-Spam Features causing Email to Disappear

Exchange Server 2007 includes several Anti-Spam Message Filtering features as standard.

Within Small Business Server 2008, these are all enabled by default. In my experience, this can result in important incoming messages failing to arrive at the intended recipients inbox. To make matters worse, neither the System Administrator or the User seems to receive any notification that messages are being blocked.

If you have evidence to suggest that important emails are “missing in transit”, I recommend you review these “Anti-Spam” settings as soon as possible.

Open Exchange Management Console and navigate to: "Organization Configuration => Hub Transport => Anti-Spam", you will see the various options available to you. The "Sender Reputation" feature is most likely causing the trouble. I recommend turning the "Sender Reputation Block Level Threshold" up to "9" and setting the “Threshold Action” to Zero. Alternatively, disable the “Sender Reputation” feature completely.

In addition, take a look within "Server Configuration => Hub Transport => Anti-Spam => IP Block List" and make sure the "Sender Reputation" feature (above) hasn’t automatically populated this list with IP Addresses it decided were not to be trusted. You will not be able to receive emails from any servers that are in this list.

SBS 2008: Where are the Exchange Tabs within Active Directory?

For some reason, the “Exchange Tabs” no longer appear within “Active Directory Users and Computers” (dsa.msc). Instead, they can be found on the individual Mail Properties within “Exchange Management Console => Recipient Configuration => Mailbox”. There are also some limited Exchange settings within the SBS Console…