Anything for sysadmins!


Room List Distribution Group

I just came across another Exchange 2010 surprise that I would like to share with you. When you are creating a new meeting and need a room to have the meeting in, you would normally add all the rooms and see which one is available. The guys behind Exchange 2010 came up with a solution for this. They introduced the Room List.

The room list is essentially a distribution group but with an added parameter. Unfortunately you can't create a Room List in the Exchange Management Console, so you'll have to use the Exchange Management Shell (PowerShell) for this. The command is quite straight forward.

New-DistributionGroup -Name "Meeting Rooms" –Members ConfRoom1,ConfRoom2,ConfRoom3,ConfRoom4 -RoomList

As you can see, the -RoomList parameter makes all the difference!

People no longer need to sift through the meeting rooms manually. They can now effectively use the Room Finder to find a suitable room.



Office 365 – Exchange Online

No doubt you've heard about Office 365. But have you checked it out already? I have recently checked out all the pros and cons and now it's time to make a small summary of the Exchange Online service.

The people in the company that I work for are quite demanding. I'm currently offering 2GB mailboxes and as expected they are not big enough. To make the entire setup future proof, I'll have to increase the capacity of the Exchange environment drastically - OR - introduce Office 365. Of course I needed to know the limitations of Office 365 to make sure that it meets the expectations of the people that are going to use it. Here are the most important limitations of Exchange Online.

  • Public folders are not available.
  • When using ADFS 2.0 for single sign-on users can't change their password from the Outlook web access.
  • The Office 365 Directory Synchronization toll ignores dynamic distribution groups in on-premise AD.
  • Hierarchical address lists, Global Address List segmentation, custom Global Address List views, and multiple address lists per organisation are not available in Exchange Online
  • Import of .pst files using the New-MailboxImportRequest is not available in Exchange Online. Microsoft introduced the PST Capture Tool to accommodate this need.
  • OWA does not support S/MIME.
  • Administrators can't search the Transport Logs, only Delivery Reports
  • SMTP relay has to be done with a valid licensed Exchange Online mailbox using TLS, which is not widely supported by applications.
  • A deleted Exchange Online mailbox is available for 30 days, after which it is not recoverable. To restore a mailbox within the 30 days, a call to Office 365 support has is required.
  • Granular recovery of deleted email is only available through the dumpster.
  • The personal archive quota is non-configurable.
  • Message limit is set to 25MB and can't be changed.
  • Exchange Online has restrictions that prevent users and applications from sending large volumes of email. Each Exchange Online mailbox can send messages to a maximum of 1,500 recipients per day. An email message can be addressed to a maximum of 500 recipients. These limits apply to emails sent within the internal domain as well as to messages delivered to external contacts. However, a distribution group that is stored in the Global Address List counts as one recipient but in a personal distribution group each recipient is counted separately. Keep in mind that this is not unique recipients per day!

This is just a summary of the most important limitations for my organization. Every organization has its own requirements so it's best to review the documents here:

Here is some pricing information:



If you're considering Exchange Online you might want to look into the Office 365 subscriptions especially when you're also using Microsoft Office. The Microsoft Office suite is quite expensive and it might be interesting to take an Office 365 E3 or E4 subscription as that includes Office Professional Plus.

The whole Office 365 package might be a lot to take in, but when you start calculating the prices it's actually quite interesting. Just take into consideration the pricing of the storage, servers, backup, maintenance and upkeep.

The company I work for is now moving to a hybrid setup. The user mailboxes will be in an on-premise Exchange environment with the personal archives in the cloud using Office 365 Online Archiving.

I hope this helps anyone of you to make a decision!


Windows and Outlook search indexer

Search is quite a vital part of Windows 7 and also of Outlook. People always need to find that special email or file and then search doesn't show the most recent items. One of the solutions might be rebuilding the search index. However these problems have the tendency to keep coming back.

A colleague recently pointed me to an alternative approach. It seems that sometimes Windows is having problems keeping up with all the file changes and all the email that pours in. Just like in Windows Vista, the Windows Search indexer is throttled to make sure that your system stays fast and snappy. If you can't find your files and emails you are slowed down even more. The solution is to disable the indexer backoff. This tells the indexer to just keep going and not to worry about any system activity.

The indexer is especially busy when you install Xobni and it starts indexing all your mail. It will touch all your mail forcing the Windows Indexer to re-index everything. With the indexer backoff enabled it will, which is the default, Outlook performance drags for a long time. When the indexer backoff is disabled the searchindexer.exe process will ramp up the CPU cycles and finish much faster allowing you to find your email sooner!

You can also find this setting in the Group Policy editor under Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Search. The setting is called Disable indexer backoff. You'll want to enable this to turn off the indexer backoff.

As a registry key you can use HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search\DisableBackoff with a value of 1.

Or use this oneliner:
reg add "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search" /v DisableBackoff /t REG_DWORD /d 1 && net stop "Windows Search" && net start "Windows Search"


Word shortcut for creating blog posts

From Word 2007 Microsoft introduced the option to use Word as a blogging client for WordPress or many other blogging services. However if you blog regularly, you will be annoyed by the normal procedure.

  1. Start Word
  2. Click File > New and
  3. Select Blog post

That's a bit too much clicking (or too many shortkeys) for lazy me. That's why I wanted to shorten this process; here's how.

  1. Find the location of winword.exe
    C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office<version>\WINWORD.EXE
    Word 2007:    12
    Word 2010:    14
  2. Find the location of Blog.dotx
    C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Templates\<language ID>\Blog.dotx
    English - US:    1033
    Dutch - NL:    1043
    German - DE:    1031
    Find your language ID here:
  3. Rightclick your desktop and select New > Shortcut
  4. Enter the following location:
     "&lt;location winword.exe&gt;" /q /t"&lt;location Blog.dotx&gt;"<br/><strong>"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\WINWORD.EXE" /q /t"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Templates\1033\Blog.dotx"</strong>
  5. Enter a suitable name for the shortcut like Microsoft Word 2010 - Blog
  6. Click Finish

I added the shortcut to my start menu in the Microsoft Office folder. This way I can type blog after pressing the Windows Key followed by an enter to start Word with the blog template.


Slow mail delivery to Outlook client from Exchange 2010

I just had a lot of problems with email being delivered to my Outlook 2010 really slow. The following findings are the result of my troubleshooting:

  • Messages are delayed ranging from a couple of minutes up to an hour when using Outlook 2010 (using RPC or Outlook Anywhere)
  • Messages are not delayed in OWA
  • PowerShell shows the messages being delivered into the proper folder (Get-MailboxFolderStatistics)
  • Message tracking shows that the internal transport is not delayed
  • Reconnecting your Outlook will force the download of the delayed messages (CTRL+Right click the taskbar icon, selecting Connection status)
  • Messages are not delayed using ActiveSync

After hitting Google with these findings it soon pointed me to the problem and also the solution.

RPC traces showed that the server couldn't contact the clients somehow.

The solution

Install Exchange 2010 SP1 Update Rollup 3 (v3)

Description of Update Rollup 3 for Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 1

Download Update Rollup 3 for Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 1

The installation of the Update Rollup will require a reboot of the Exchange server, but it will solve this particular issue along with other issues.

The article that pointed me in the right direction and also the source of some of the troubleshooting steps can be found right here.


Backup or copy Outlook signatures

Don't you just hate recreating your signatures after a reinstall or workstation switch? So do I, that's why after my recent workstation switch I decided to figure out how to do this the easy way.

Open Outlook and go to File > Options > Mail

Now click on the Signatures button while holding the CTRL key on your keyboard. This opens your Signatures folder in your profile (C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Signatures in windows 7)

Copy all the files in that folder. These files contain all versions of your signature. Do the same on your new workstation and place the copied files from your old workstation there. You now have copied your signature to your new workstation. All you need to do now is assign the signature(s) to the different message types and you should be done.


Calendar sharing is not available

I had a user coming up to me saying that she couldn't send calendar requests anymore. The error was: "Calendar sharing is not available with the following entries because of permission settings on your network". As all mailboxes had just migrated to the Exchange 2010 server this could be anything. However a blog post from Nubby Admin saved me a lot of work.

The error was caused by an outdated entry in the user's autocomplete list. After using the GAL to select the recipient all went well. I also instructed her to clear her autocomplete list.


Outlook 2010 Social Connectors

Social connectors are perhaps one of the best new features of Outlook 2010. As the name implies, they allow you to get updates on your contacts through Outlook. It started out with only 1 connector, and 3 more have been added. You can find the links below:


Black screen in PowerPoint 2010

When showing a slideshow in PowerPoint 2010 through Remote Desktop, the screen might come up black. By disabling hardware graphics acceleration you can get the slides to show normally. To do this, go to File > Options in PowerPoint and select Advanced. Then check the Disable hardware graphics acceleration option to fix the problem.

Also you can temporarily black the screen by pressing the B button on your keyboard. If white suits your presentation more, you can press the W button on your keyboard.


Excel Error: Windows cannot find “”…

Someone just reported the Excel error below to me. The error happens when an Excel icon is double-clicked while already having an Excel session open.

"Windows cannot find '<doc location'. Make sure you typed the name correctly, and then try again."

This error had me puzzled for a moment until I found the answer on the Microsoft support site here.

Here's a small excerpt of the Microsoft support site:

When you double-click an Excel workbook in Windows Explorer, a dynamic data exchange (DDE) message is sent to Excel, instructing it to open the workbook that you double-clicked.

If the Ignore other applications setting is selected, Excel ignores DDE messages sent to it by other programs. As a result, the DDE message sent to Excel by Windows Explorer is ignored, and Excel does not open the workbook that you double-clicked.

To solve the problem you'll have to uncheck the setting Ignore other application that use Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE) which can be found here:

Microsoft Excel 2010

  1. Click the File tab, and then click Options.
  2. Click Advanced, and then click to clear the Ignore other applications check box in the General area.
  3. Click OK.

Microsoft Office Excel 2007

  1. Click the Microsoft Office Button, and then click Excel Options.
  2. Click Advanced, and then click to clear the Ignore other applications check box in the General area.
  3. Click OK.

Microsoft Office Excel 2003 or earlier versions of Excel

  1. Click Options, on the Tools menu.
  2. Click the General tab.
  3. Click to clear the Ignore other applications check box, and then click OK.

 This error can also occur when Word or Powerpoint is trying to include a part of an open Excel document.