J003-Content-What-Admins-Need-to-Know-About-Outlook-2016_SQThe Exchange Team at Microsoft recently posted a very good article titled “Outlook 2016: What Exchange admins need to know” that goes into some detail about the latest release of the Outlook client for Windows. It is a very good read and I encourage you all to go review it in detail when you have time.

But since time is something most of us have little enough of, I wanted to share the highlights with you now, so that if you are an Exchange admin and the desktop team is looking to start testing the latest client, you know what you need to do and can avoid some potential problems. We will also include some things that aren’t quite related to just Exchange. Let’s jump right in.

You must use Autodiscover

Forget about hard coding servers. Publish your Autodiscover records into DNS and the /Autodiscover virtual directory to the Internet if you have remote users. Internally, you can still use Active Directory for SCP lookups, but you must use Autodiscover to configure Outlook 2016. Registry settings and hard-coded server settings are not supported. PRF files? Yeah, not so much. Seriously, get with the program and use Autodiscover, or don’t use Outlook 2016.

MAPI-HTTP

MAPI over HTTP is the client access protocol used by default.

The network matters

Foreground network calls are gone, so if you counted on them to keep clients connected even when the network sucked, that’s no longer an option. Get the network fixed.

Say goodbye to Exchange 2007

Outlook 2016 and Exchange 2007 are a bad mix. Make sure if you still have Exchange 2007 in your environment, you don’t wind up with any users on Outlook 2016 trying to connect to those servers.

Search is better, if…

The new search capabilities are great…if you have the server side bits to support that. This means Exchange 2016 or Office 365. If you are still on-prem with Exchange 2007-2013, there’s no search improvements.

No longer so social

Outlook 2016 does not have the Outlook Social Connector feature that earlier versions did. That may be nothing to you, or it may be everything to your users in sales or marketing, or even just your millennial employees. Whatever, prepare the helpdesk now to be aware that the connectors to LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social channels are gone.

How much is too much?

End users, and admins through GPO, can configure how much mail is cached in Outlook Cached mode. The slider now includes settings for 3, 7, and 14 days, as well as the settings from one month on up that 2013 has.

Side by side

You can install the Click to Run (C2R) version of Outlook 2016 on a machine with the MSI version of an older Outlook, but you cannot run them at the same time and you cannot install the MSI version of 2016 side by side with an earlier version. If you have already installed 2016 and want to then install an older version, you must first uninstall 2016.

I got your latency right here

The latest guidance from Microsoft indicates that Outlook can run in online mode with latency as high as 500 milliseconds and still get acceptable performance. Anything higher than that, go to cached mode. Frankly, I have always targeted 100 milliseconds as the bar between online and cached mode. YMMV so test and see what you consider “acceptable.”

InfoPath is dead

And it’s not coming back. To that end, InfoPath Forms are not supported in Outlook 2016. If your company is still using InfoPath (it’s not dead yet!) you will want to wait on upgrading to Outlook 2016.

Outlook 2016 is the latest and greatest version of Outlook, but it leaves a little to be desired in the backwards compatibility realm. Knowing what works, and what doesn’t, and figuring out how that might impact your users is critical. Ensuring that the team testing Outlook works with you to be sure they don’t run into an unexpected issue that should have been expected will save you both lots of time.  Sit down with the desktop team and review this list now, and everyone will be happier for it.