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Article ID: 827775 - Last Review: May 25, 2010 - Revision: 4.0

For a Microsoft Outlook 2002 version of this article, see 291621  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/291621/ ) .
For a Microsoft Outlook 2000 version of this article, see 196484  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/196484/ ) .

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SUMMARY

This article describes how to use the Internet Free/Busy (IFB) feature in Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 and in Microsoft Office Outlook 2003. The IFB feature allows you to publish your personal free or busy information on a URL file server. You can view the free/busy information of any one of your contacts and setup meetings with other users by using the IFB feature.

INTRODUCTION

Internet Free/Busy (IFB) is a feature in Outlook 2007 and in Outlook 2003 that allows you to see when others are free or busy so that you can efficiently schedule meetings. Outlook users have the option to publish their free/busy information to a user-specified URL file server. You can share this URL file server with all users, or you can limit it to a specific set of users.

An Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standard named iCal, is the basis for the IFB feature. The IFB feature uses a part of the iCal standard named iCalendar, an emerging standard for the format and storage of schedule information. iCalendar defines a structure for representing free/busy information in a standardized way.

This article discusses the following information:
  • How to publish free/busy information to the Internet.
  • How to view other people's free/busy information on the Internet.
  • How to plan a meeting by using the IBF feature.

MORE INFORMATION

How to publish free/busy information to the Internet

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. On the Preferences tab, click Calendar Options.
  3. Click Free/Busy Options.
  4. Click the Publish at my location check box.
  5. In the box, type the URL to which you want to publish the free/busy information.
  6. Click OK to close all dialog boxes.

How to view other people's free/busy information on the Internet

You can view the free/busy information for any one of your contacts that publish this data on the Internet. If all your contacts store this information on the same free/busy server, you can set the search path for this information globally for all contacts. Or, if the location of this information varies by contact, you can set the search path specifically for each contact. Use one of the following methods to view other people's free/busy information on the Internet.

How to set the global free/busy search path for all contacts

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. On the Preferences tab, click Calendar Options.
  3. In Outlook 2003, click Free/Busy Options. In Outlook 2007, click Other Free/Busy.
  4. In the Search location box, type the fully qualified path to the location that you want to search for the free/busy information. You can use any valid URL format, such as, http://... , file://\\... , ftp://... , or \\... .

    Outlook supports %NAME% and %SERVER% substitutions.

    The following are examples of using these substitutions in the value that you specify in the Search location box:
    ftp://%SERVER%/Freebusy/%NAME%.vfb
    \\computer\share\%SERVER%\%NAME%.vfb
    In a Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) address, Outlook replaces %NAME% with all the characters before the at (@) symbol and replaces %SERVER% with all the characters following the @ symbol.

    For example, consider the following scenario. You have .vfb files for guidopica@contoso.com and hollyholt@contoso.com. Therefore, the .vfb file names in this example should be guidopica.vfb and hollyholt.vfb. Put them in a folder that is called "Contoso.com" in a shared folder that is called "Freebusy" and on a server that is called "Winserver." In this scenario, the Search location value is as follows:

    \\Winserver\Freebusy\%SERVER%\%NAME%.vfb

    If you add guidopica@contoso.com and hollyholt@contoso.com to a meeting invite, Outlook locates their .vfb files by using the path that the Search location value specifies.
  5. Click OK three times to close all dialog boxes.

How to set the free/busy search path for a specific contact

  1. In the navigation pane, click Contacts, and then double-click an entry to open a contact.
  2. Click the Details tab.
  3. Under the text that reads Internet Free-Busy, type the fully qualified path of the location that you want to search for this Contact's free/busy information in the Address box. You can use any valid URL format, such as: http://..., file://\\..., or ftp://....

    The following is an example of a valid format:
    ftp://Contactserver/Freebusy/Contactname.vfb
    Internet free/busy information appears on the Scheduling tab of appointments and meetings.

How to plan a meeting by using the IBF feature

  1. In the navigation pane, click Calendar, and then click New Meeting Request on the Actions menu.
  2. On the Scheduling tab, type the name of each attendee in the All Attendees box.
Outlook follows the URL path (the URL path that was previously specified in the "How to set the Free/Busy search path for a specific contact" section of this article) for the individuals that you invite, and it automatically inserts their free/busy information in the planner.

By default, Outlook publishes and retrieves free/busy information every 15 minutes. To update the free/busy information immediately, click Send And Receive on the Tools menu, and then click Free/Busy Information.

APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2007
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2003
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager
Keywords: 
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