Monday, 26 March 2007

SBS 2K3 Premium - Windows 2000 Professional and Outlook 2003 not communicating with Exchange

What a weekend! I helped a friend of mine who has his own I.T. company install an SBS 2003 Premium server this weekend. I have introduced him to SBS and am helping him get to know the OS and its features.

It was quite the weekend.

One of the problems we ran into was with Outlook communicating with the Exchange server on SBS 2003 Premium R2 on the existing Windows 2000 Professional workstations.

All of the W2K Pro boxes displayed the following error:

From Microsoft Office Outlook: "The connection to the Microsoft Exchange Server is unavailable. Outlook must be online or connected to complete this action."

Now, nslookup worked fine, IE browsed the web with no issues, and as you can see the ISA Client is happily connected to the SBS ISA server.

Our search brought up the Microsoft KB 897716: RPC data may be blocked, and Outlook may not start in Windows Server 2003 with SP1. There was nothing relevant here.

The following Microsoft KB 325950: How to troubleshoot connectivity issues that are caused by RPC client protocol registry entries was a lot more relevant.

We were on a W2K Pro SP4 workstation, and the XP Pro SP2 workstations were all connecting with no issues.

The process was very simple: Rebuild the TCP/IP stack. Considering these workstations have not had a rebuild since their installation oh so many years ago, it was very relevant.

Step 3 of the KB article contained what we need:

  1. Log on as the local administrator (Keep in mind your SBS users already are local admins)
  2. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
  3. Double-click Network Connections.
  4. Right-click the Local Area connection, and then click Properties.
  5. Install another protocol to maintain a placeholder for the connection. For example, install NWLink. (We used NetBEUI)
  6. Click to clear the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) check box, and then click OK.
  7. Click Yes.
  8. Repeat steps 3 through 5 for each network connection that is listed.
  9. Restart your computer.
  10. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
  11. Double-click Network Connections.
  12. Right-click the network connection, and then click Properties.
  13. Click to clear the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) check box, and then click OK.
  14. Click Yes.
  15. Reinstall TCP/IP in each network connection.
  16. In each network connection, remove the protocol that was installed to maintain the placeholder (such as NWLink (or NetBEUI)). Do not remove other protocols if they were already installed.
  17. Restart your computer.
The italics added to the above instructions are the method we used. Make sure to follow the exact install NetBEUI - remove TCP/IP - reboot - install TCP/IP - remove NetBEUI - reboot order as described in the article so as to not break anything else.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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