Continuing with application virtualization, let’s talk about virtualizing Microsoft Outlook with VMware ThinApp for use with Citrix XenApp.

The key to virtualizing Outlook (and other Office products), in my opinion, is the Microsoft Office Custom Installation Wizard (CIW). The Custom Installation Wizard is part of the Office 2003 Resource Kit. I have found that virtualizing Outlook is made much easier if creating a custom MST transform file for use during Outlook’s installation. Additional information on the CIW can be found here.

When setting up the Outlook MST, and more specifically, the Exchange Settings, be sure to enter %username% as the User Name. As far as the Exchange Server is concerned, any mail server in the organization can be entered.

So, our steps to virtualize Outlook are as follows:

1. Create the Office Transform file (MST) using the Custom Installation Wizard
2. Logon to the ThinApp “packager”, ie, the clean workstation/server used to create the ThinApp packages, and launch the ThinApp setup capture utility.
3. Minimize the ThinApp setup capture utility when the pre-scan task completes.
4. Install Outlook using the MST file created in Step 1. An example command would look like setuppro.exe transforms=c:\Outlook.mst
5. When the installation of Outlook completes, install Office 2003 Service Pack 3 and any additional Outlook plugins, such as archiving agents. However, DO NOT OPEN OUTLOOK!! If you do, the %username% variable will be replaced with the currently logged on user, thereby “hardcoding” the package to launch that mailbox only.
6. Maximize the ThinApp setup capture agent and build the Outlook package.
7. Publish the Outlook package within Citrix and give it a test.