Updated: 2009-04-09

Instant Messaging is a feature of Microsoft Windows Messenger, Microsoft MSN Messenger, and the Microsoft Exchange Instant Messaging Service. With Instant Messaging, users can communicate with each other in real time.


This topic is for Outlook administrators. To configure Instant Messaging in Outlook on your computer, see Use instant messaging services with Outlook.

You can lock down the settings to customize Outlook Instant Messaging features by using the Outlook Group Policy template (Outlk12.adm). Or you can configure default settings by using the Office Customization Tool (OCT), in which case users can change the settings. The OCT settings are in corresponding locations on the Modify user settings page of the OCT.


You can also configure Instant Messaging settings for the 2007 Microsoft Office system in Group Policy or by using the OCT. You can lock down the settings using the Office Group Policy template (Office12.adm). Instant Messaging settings for Office are under User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Microsoft Office 2007 system\Instant Messaging Integration.

The Outlook template and other ADM files can be downloaded from 2007 Office System Administrative Templates (ADM) on the Microsoft Download Center.

To use Group Policy to configure Outlook Instant Messaging options

  1. In Group Policy, load the Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 template (Outlk12.adm).

  2. To configure Instant Messaging settings, under User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Microsoft Office Outlook 2007\Tools | Options...\Other\Person Names, double-click one of the Instant Messaging settings.

  3. Click Enabled.

  4. Select the option you want to configure, and then click OK.

The settings you can configure for Instant Messaging in Outlook are as follows.

Instant Messaging options Description

Set maximum level of online status on a person name

Choose where to display presence information: do not display presence anywhere; display presence everywhere; or display presence everywhere except on the To and CC fields (default).

Display online status on a person name

Disable roaming so that Internet Calendars are available only on the client that originally linked them.

Turn off Enable the Person Names Smart Tag option

Automatically download enclosures (such as graphics) on Internet Calendar appointments.

More information about Instant Messaging settings

When a user opens a message or views it in the Reading Pane in Office Outlook 2007, the Person Names Smart Tag is displayed beside the sender's name. This smart tag also appears in other places in Outlook, including in Contacts (when users rest the pointer on an e-mail address) and in new meeting requests (when users rest the pointer on an attendee's name). Users can right-click the smart tag to see a menu of information and options, such as a person's free/busy status.

Deciding whether to change the default settings depends on your organization's size and needs. For example, here are two recommendations to consider, if they apply to your organization:

  • If your organization has fewer than 50 users, you might choose to allow users to see Instant Messaging presence for person names everywhere in Outlook. To do this, configure Allow everywhere for the Outlook setting Set maximum level of online status on a person's name.

  • If your organization has users who have specified Query Exchange IM Server or Query Messenger Contacts list only for allowing Instant Messaging status queries, this setting will be migrated to Office Outlook 2007 by default. If you want to require using Live Communications Server instead, configure Query Live Communications Server for the Office setting Allow IM status queries for people not on the Messenger Contacts list.

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See the full list of available books at Office Resource Kit information.