26.10.2016     Follow me on Facebook
by Edgar Gierth

Automatic Outlook configuration without any user prompt

When Outlook is started for the first time in an Active directory environment that has Exchange 2013 or Exchange 2016 servers implemented the autodiscover wizard, which is basically a Next and Next Finish operation, becomes unnecessary, because all the information to configure the outlook client is right there in the background of Active Directory. Therefore there is a possiblity to run the autodiscover wizard in the background without asking the user to click next next and finish to configure and create the outlook profile.

ZeroConfigExchange (ZCE)

Enter ZeroConfigExchange (ZCE). ZCE can be used to create new profiles for users with minimal user interaction. That is, the user does not have to enter any configuration data. Only data that every user should already know (account name and/or password) or with which to create a profile (a simple name). ZCE is a registry setting that tells Outlook to create a new profile using the SMTP address from Active Directory and to then leverage Autodiscover. It's important to note that there are no supported tools for modifying an Exchange Online account. Again, ZCE is used as a way to automatically configure an Outlook profile for one or many users with Exchange Online or Exchange on-premises accounts. However, the way that things have evolved, Autodiscover is the mechanism used for gathering configuration data for your connection to Exchange.

Implementing ZCE

Implementing ZCE is easy. It can be added (through a login script) to the user's registry or as a GPO for all users. Here's how:

1. In Windows Registry, navigate to the appropriate subkey for each version of Outlook that is in use:

For Outlook 2016:
As a GPO Policy:

For Outlook 2013:

As a GPO Policy: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Outlook\AutoDiscover

For Outlook 2010:

As a GPO Policy:

2. Once the key is created, right-click in the right pane and click New, click DWORD Value and type in “ZeroConfigExchange” and then press ENTER.

3. Finally, right-click ZeroConfigExchange, click Modify and then in the Value data box, type 1, and then click OK.