What’s in the article?

This article discusses the Autodiscover feature introduced in Exchange Server 2007. Readers will understand the functions and importance of the Autodiscover service by going through this article.

About Autodiscover

The Autodiscover feature is available for the users of Exchange 2007 and later. It is a service that helps to configure user mailboxes automatically. You can find EWS endpoint URL for Exchange Web Services clients with this feature. It is also capable of delivering the information required for configuration of clients that use other protocols.

Changes in Autodiscover feature

In Exchange 2016, the Mailbox server now provides Client Access services. Now, it is not possible to configure a standalone Client Access server as done with an earlier version of Exchange.

How Autodiscover functions?

When you install Exchange Server on your system, it creates Service Connection Points which are available in Active Directory Sites and Services. Within Service Connection Points, Exchange Autodiscover Information is stored. With this information, Outlook client locates Autodiscover to configure user mailbox profile.

The basic workflow of the Autodiscover feature in Exchange is as follows:

Autodiscover feature in Exchange

First, your Outlook client sends LDAP query to Active Directory of your Exchange Server to connect to Service Connection Points which sends its information to the Outlook client as an XML. Outlook client fetches the information from Service Connection Points and then sends an HTTPS DNS Request to Autodiscover URL – HTTPS://autodiscover.windowstechpro.com/Autodiscover/autodiscover.xml. Then Autodiscover delivers service connection settings to the client in the form of XML file. Now, Outlook client sends this information to Exchange Server and ultimately, Exchange Server provides mailbox information required for the Outlook client.

Autodiscover service provides the following information to Outlook client:

  • Display name of the user
  • Connection settings for internal/external connectivity
  • Outlook Anywhere Server settings
  • Location of user mailbox that currently holds the active copy of the mailbox
  • URLs for vital Outlook features responsible for its functionality like Unified Messaging, free/busy information, Offline Address Book (OAB), etc.

With the advancement of Autodiscover in Exchange 2016, manual configuration of server settings has become obsolete. Autodiscover does the complete configuration work automatically. Autodiscover works for client applications that are inside or outside firewalls. It also works in resource forest and multiple forest scenarios.