Thursday, 22 August 2013
8/22/2013 10:11:00 pm 0

How to configure Unicode options in Outlook?

In current article, I am going to discuss the Unicode options in Outlook. Before that let’s have a glimpse at the ANSI and Unicode character encoding.

What is ANSI and Unicode format?
The ANSI format contains 217 characters. The US versions of Windows operating system (Windows 95 and Windows NT 4 and previous versions) supported the character encoding Windows-1252.

After that the number of characters increased from 217 to 218 as one more symbol is added i.e. the euro currency symbol. Later on Microsoft introduced Windows Glyph List 4) character set that contained 652 characters. It also provides support for non-Latin alphabets.  

Unicode encoding is also known as UTF-16 that provides a unique numeric identifier for each character (non Latin fonts and symbol fonts). The current ongoing version of Unicode formatting is 6.2.0; it has a total of 110,182 characters including graphical, formatting and control characters.

Unicode options in Outlook:
Unicode mode is fully supported by Microsoft Office Outlook 2007. Unicode format is beneficial if the multilingual support is required. There is one more additional benefit of using Unicode format that is higher storage. Non Unicode formats provide less storage support capacity and limit the use on multilingual characters within your data.  

The previous versions don’t provide support for Unicode format. Due to the extra features provided by Unicode formats users prefer to migrate from Non Unicode supported versions to Unicode. 

While using Outlook Unicode mode, a new PST file is created by default. Outlook also provides Group policy settings with the help of which you can enforce the Unicode format for new PST files.

With the help of Outlook Group Policy template, you can modify the Outlook Unicode settings.  

This can also be done with the help of Office Customization Tool (OCT). You need to go to the user settings page and from there you can configure the OCT settings. 

Note: The below steps are valid for Outlook version 2007.

Steps to use Group policy for imposing Unicode format for the new PST files:
  • First load the template for Office Outlook 2007.
  • Go to User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Microsoft Office Outlook 2007\Miscellaneous then open PST Settings by double clicking. From there you can customize the settings for enforcing the Unicode format.
  • Double click to Select Unicode/ANSI option from Preferred PST Mode.
  • Now if you want to enable the policy settings then click Enabled.
  • Now you need to choose the file format for new PST file. To do so open the new PSTs drop-down list and choose ‘Enforce Unicode PST’ Option.
  • Finally Hit OK.
With the help of Group policy, you can also impose Unicode mode for Outlook. To do so, follow the given steps:
  • First load the template for Office Outlook 2007 in Group Policy.
  • Go to User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Microsoft Office Outlook 2007\Tools > Account Settings, Then Open Exchange Settings by double click.
  • Select the option Exchange Unicode Mode by double clicking.
  • You can enable the policy configuration by selecting the radio button.
  • Check the checkbox ‘Ignore existing format of the Archive PST’
  • Hit OK.
  • Select the option Exchange Unicode Mode by Double-clicking.
  • You can enable the policy configuration by selecting the radio button.
  • Open the dropdown list ‘Choose whether existing OST format determines mailbox mode’ and from there select the option Create new OST if format doesn't match mode.
This will prompt you to fill the file name of the new OST file.

You can also choose the option ‘Prompt to create new OST if format doesn't match mode’. By selecting this option the user will be adjourned to create a new OST.
Users will be prompted to select one of the options
    • Whether  the new OST file  is to be created now or later on,
    • After that the user need to choose a file name for the newly created OST file
  • Hit the OK button.

Before enforcing the Outlook Unicode mode, you must decide which mode do you want to use and why? 

Before using Unicode mode or non-Unicode (ANSI) mode, you must go through the below given checkpoints: 

  • For using the Outlook Unicode mode the user must have Exchange versions 2000 or later versions. The OST files and Default Outlook Unicode or ANSI formats are also checked by Outlook whether they are Unicode or ANSI formats.
  • The same format check is performed for the Outlook PST files.
  • Before switching a current file from Unicode mode to non-Unicode or vice versa the user must keep in mind that  data can be lost as the characters supported by one format may not be supported by the other . This can turn some of your text useless or un-readable. So if you are using Unicode format then it’s not a wise choice to switch to ANSI format, they should keep using the Unicode format.
If you want to harmonize the Cached Exchange Mode and deployment of Outlook Unicode mode, then you need to set the deploy options for migrating users to Unicode mode. As you know, while working with Exchange cache mode the Offline Address Book is automatically synchronized with the data residing on Exchange server. So, when you migrate users to Unicode mode then you must also synchronizing OST and OAB files by setting from deployment options.

You can  create a new Outlook profile for deploying Outlook Unicode mode with the help of use the  Office Customization Tool (OCT). This will automatically create a new OST file and archive file that will support Outlook Unicode format.

Follow the given steps to create new Outlook offline profile:
  • Start the Office Customization Tool (OCT) tool and open Outlook section.
  • Go to Customize Default Profile page> New Profile. After clicking New Profile you will be prompted to fill the desired name for new Outlook profile in the Profile name box
  • Click Next.
  • Open the Specify Exchange Settings page. From there check the radio button ‘Configure an Exchange server connection’.
  • You will find the default user name system variable in the User Name box, you can also change it to desired variable.
  • Fill the Exchange server in the Exchange Server box;
  • Go to the option ‘More Settings’. This will open the Microsoft Exchange Server page.
  • From there you can select  the checkbox ‘Enable offline use’, if  you want to  deploy a new OST file
  • Hit the OK button. After that Click Next
  • Once you are done with the process of customizing settings s in the OCT, create a Setup customization file by clicking Finish.
  • After that you need to update all user systems with the new Outlook profile.

How to install Outlook 2007 on users' computer?
Follow the below steps to install an Office product: 
  • Copy the Setup customization file to the Updates folders. 
Note: The Setup customization file was the file that was created by Office Customization Tool (OCT) in the previous paragraphs. 
The location for the Updates folders is the root of the network installation point.
  • Go to the product folder specified at its default location i.e. the root of the network installation point. From there you can modify the settings the Config.xml file
Open the default location for the product (i.e. root of the network installation point,), Locate the file then, Double click Setup.exe to install the product. This will apply the customization done by you in the Config.xml file

Consider a scenario when Outlook 2007 is installed on the user’s system but no modification has been done to the Outlook users' profiles. In such cases while enforcing the Outlook users to work in Unicode mode, certain required modifications should be done to the default profile settings so that proper harmony can be established for the new Outlook data files. If a user wants to use the Outlook Unicode mode then the Exchange server version should be 2000 or later.


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