Q: How can I book resources, such as a conference room, in Outlook 2010?

A: One of the features for scheduling meetings in Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange Server is the ability to book resources directly through Outlook’s meeting request dialog. The Direct Booking feature uses logic coded in Outlook when adding Exchange mailboxes to a meeting request; this feature has been available since Outlook 2000. For MAPI connections to Exchange Server, Direct Booking occurs when the Exchange mailbox is added to a meeting request as a resource, the meeting organizer has the permission to write to the resource mailbox calendar, and the resource mailbox MAPI attribute PR_PROCESS_MEETING_REQUESTS is set to TRUE, which is the case when the mailbox is created as a resource mailbox in Exchange Server. If one of these requirements isn’t met, the resource booking request is sent as it would be to any other Exchange mailbox—which means it will silently fail, because the request will remain pending in the resource mailbox Inbox.

In Exchange Server 2003, you need to deploy an Auto Accept event sink to automate responses from resource mailboxes. Since Exchange 2003, this logic is added when you create a resource mailbox. The Direct Booking code is no longer necessary in the Outlook client.

You can still book resources directly in Outlook 2010; however, the feature is disabled by default. Unfortunately, Outlook 2010 doesn’t prevent requests or warn users that resource room requests will fail. The meeting request is sent as though the resource will respond as a user does. Unless an administrator opens the resource mailbox and responds to the booking request manually, the request will remain pending with no response to the meeting organizer. The resource just doesn’t get booked when you try to use Direct Booking. If you intend to use Direct Booking in Outlook 2010, you must enable it. To enable Direct Booking in Outlook 2010, you need to edit the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Outlook\Options\Calendar registry entry.

Right-click in the open area in Regedit’s right-hand pane and select New, DWORD (32-bit) Value. Enter the value EnableDirectBooking, then double-click the new DWORD and assign it a value of 1, as Figure 1 shows (1 is the same whether hexadecimal or decimal). This registry entry exists in Outlook 2007, Outlook 2003, Outlook 2002, and Outlook 2000, with the appropriate version number (14.0 for Outlook 2010, 12.0 for Outlook 2007, and 11.0 for Outlook 2003), and is set to 1 by default. If you want to disable Direct Booking in those versions of Outlook, reset the DWORD value EnableDirectBooking to 0.

Enabling Direct Booking in Outlook 2010

If Outlook 2010 is open when you add this registry value, you’ll need to restart Outlook for the change to take effect because the entry is read into memory as Outlook starts.

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