Understanding and using message classifications in Exchange Server 2010 - Part One

First post in a two-part series that discusses Exchange Server messages classifications and how they can be used.

Message classification is a feature that is found within Exchange Server 2007 / 2010 and Outlook 2007 / 2010. By using the classification feature, a message that has been classified will contain specific metadata that describes the intended use or audience of the message. Additionally, when a message is classified, downstream applications like Outlook or OWA can use the classification metadata to display user-friendly information about the classification. Or, you can create transport rules that act upon messages depending on their classification and specific criteria.

In Exchange Server 2010 there are three message classifications that are enabled by default:

  • Attachment Removed - Intended to inform recipients when attachments have been removed from the message.
  • Originator Requested Alternate Recipient Mail - Intended to notify recipients that the message has been redirected from delivery to the original addressed recipient.
  • Partner Mail - Intended to notify recipients that the message was encrypted and delivered through a secure connector.

Initially, these classifications are not associated with any transport rules and therefore inert. If you want to make use of these classifications, they will need to create a set transport rules to apply the default classifications based on certain conditions (hopefully as outlined in their descriptions).

In general, the whole point behind message classifications is so that they can be used for compliance and policy management. Either a user is explicitly defining a classification for a message or you are applying classifications to messages based on certain conditions. These classifications can then be used as either a visual cues (Outlook and OWA) as to the type of message being received by the recipient or you can have transport rules act on the classifications. For example, you can use a transport rule to prevent messages that have been classified as internal from being sent to external recipients.

To manage message classifications in Exchange there are four cmdlets that you can use:

  • Get-MessageClassification – Used to get information about a specific classification.
  • New-MessageClassification – Used to create a new message classification.
  • Remove-MessageClassification – Used to delete a specific message classification.
  • Set-MessageClassification – Used to modify a message-classification’s settings.

Details about creating message classifications and how to incorporate them into transport rules will be covered in my next post. But, once you have created a message classification, you will need to export that classification into an XML file, which can then be distributed to your Outlook 2007 or greater clients (otherwise users cannot apply the classification to messages). To accomplish this feat, use the Export-OutlookClassification.ps1 script to create the XML file using the following command:

Get-MessageClassification | .\Export-OutlookClassification.ps1 > C:\mycoolfile\Classifications.xml

Once you have the XML file, you will then need to distribute the file to your Outlook clients (using your favorite means). Finally, you will need to add a registry entry on the Outlook clients that points to the location of the XML file. Details are provided here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa998271.aspx

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