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Summary

Internet Free/Busy (IFB) is a feature of Microsoft Outlook that allows you to see when others are free or busy so that you can efficiently schedule meetings. Outlook users have the option to publish their free/busy information to a user-specified Uniform Resource Locator (URL) file server. You can share this URL file server with all users or limit it to a specific set of users.

An Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standard called iCal, is the basis for IFB. IFB uses a part of the iCal standard called iCalendar, an emerging standard for the format and storage of schedule information. iCalendar defines a structure for representing free/busy information in a standardized way.

This article discusses the following information:
  • How to publish free/busy information to the Internet.
  • How to view other people's free/busy information on the Internet.
  • How to set the global free/busy search path for all contacts.
  • How to set the free/busy search path for a specific contact.
  • How to plan a meeting by using free/busy information on the Internet.

More information

How to Publish Free/Busy Information to the Internet

For Microsoft Outlook 2013 and Microsoft Outlook 2010:
  1. Click the File tab, and then click Options.
  2. In the left pane, click Calendar, and then click the Free/busy Options button.
  3. Click the Permissions tab, and then click Other Free/busy.
  4. Click to select the Publish at My Location check box under the Internet Free/busy section, and then type the fully qualified path of the server on which you will publish your free/busy information. You can use any valid URL format, such as http://... , file://\\... , or ftp://... . Free/busy files have the .vfb file name extension. The following is an example of a valid URL format:

    ftp://Myserver/Freebusy/Myname.vfb

    Note If the FTP server requires authentication and Outlook is installed on Windows Vista or Windows 7, you must use the following format:

    ftp://username:password@Ftpservername/Freebus/Myname.vfb
    Where username:password is your user name and password.
For Microsoft Outlook 2007 and Microsoft Office Outlook 2003:
  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. On the Preferences tab, click Calendar Options.
  3. Click Free/Busy Options.
  4. In Publish at My Location, type the fully qualified path to the server on which you will publish your free/busy information. You can use any valid URL format, such as: http://..., file://\\..., or ftp://.... The following is an example of a valid format:
    ftp://Myserver/Freebusy/Myname.vfb
    Free/busy files have an extension of .vfb.

    Note If the FTP server requires authentication and you are using Outlook 2007 on Windows Vista or Windows 7, you must use the following format:

    ftp://username:password@Ftpservername/Freebus/Myname.vfb
    Where username:password is your user name and password.
  5. Click OK three times to close all dialog boxes.
If your FTP servers require authentication and Outlook is installed on Windows XP, you must follow these steps to configure the FTP site:

For Outlook 2010:
  1. Start Outlook 2010, and then on click the File tab.
  2. Click Open, and then click Outlook data files.
  3. In the Look in list, click Add/Modify FTP Locations.
  4. In the Add/Modify FTP Locations dialog box, type the address of your FTP site in the Name of FTP Site box. The format for the address is ftp.site_name.com, where the address is the FTP site address. Notice that ftp:// is not required.
  5. Under Log on as, click User, and then enter your user name.
  6. Under Password, type the password.
  7. Click Add to add the site to your list of FTP sites. When you configure this option, the logon information for publishing to the site is retained.
  8. Click OK to close the Add/Modify FTP Locations dialog box.
  9. Click Cancel to close the Open Outlook Data File dialog box.
  10. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  11. On the Preferences tab, click Calendar Options, and then click Free/Busy Options.
  12. Click to select the Publish at My Location check box, and then type the fully qualified path of the server on which you will publish your free/busy information. You can use any valid URL format, such as http://... , file://\\... , or ftp://... . Free/busy files have the .vfb file name extension. The following is an example of a valid URL format:
    ftp://Myserver/Freebusy/Myname.vfb
For Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2003:
  1. Start Outlook.
  2. On the File menu, click Open, and then click Outlook Data File.
  3. In the Look in box, select Add/Modify FTP Locations.
  4. In the Add/Modify FTP Locations dialog box, type the address of your FTP site in the Name of FTP Site box. The format for the address is ftp.site.com, where the address is the FTP site address. Note that ftp:// is not required
  5. Under Log on as, click User, and then enter the user name.
  6. Under Password, type the password.
  7. Click Add to add the site to your list of FTP sites. Configuring this option retains the logon information for publishing to the site.
  8. Click OK to close the Add/Modify FTP Locations dialog box.
  9. Click Cancel to close the Open Outlook Data File dialog box.
  10. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  11. On the Preferences tab, click Calendar Options, and then click Free/Busy Options.
  12. Click to select the Publish at My Location check box, and then type the fully qualified path of the server on which you will publish your free/busy information. You can use any valid URL format, such as http://..., file://\\..., or ftp://.... Free/busy files have the .vfb file name extension. The following is an example of a valid URL format:
    ftp://Myserver/Freebusy/Myname.vfb

How to View Other People's Free/Busy Information on the Internet

You can view the free/busy information for any of your contacts that publish this data on the Internet. If all of your contacts store this information on the same free/busy server, you can set the search path for this information globally for all contacts. Or, if the location of this information varies by contact, you can set the search path specifically for each contact.

How to Set the Global Free/Busy Search Path for All Contacts

For Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2010:
  1. Click the File tab, and then click Options.
  2. On the left pane, click Calendar.
  3. Click the Free/Busy Options button, click the Permissions tab, and then click Other Free/busy.
  4. Under the Internet Free/busy section, in the Search locations box, type the fully qualified path of the location that you want to search for the free/busy information. You can use any valid URL format, such as: http://... , file://\\... , or ftp://... .

    Outlook supports %NAME% and %SERVER% substitutions.

    The following is an example of how to use these substitutions:
    ftp://%SERVER%/Freebusy/%NAME%.vfb

    In an Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) address, Outlook replaces %NAME% with all the characters before the at (@) symbol and replaces %SERVER% with all the characters following the @ symbol.
  5. Click OK to exit.
For Outlook 2007:
  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. On the Preferences tab, click Calendar Options.
  3. Click Free/Busy Options, click the Permissions tab and then click Other Free/busy.
  4. Under the Internet Free/busy section, in the Search locations box type the fully qualified path to the location that you want to search for the free/busy information. You can use any valid URL format, such as: http://... , file://\\... , or ftp://... .

    Outlook supports %NAME% and %SERVER% substitutions.

    The following is an example of using these substitutions:
    ftp://%SERVER%/Freebusy/%NAME%.vfb
    In an Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) address, Outlook replaces %NAME% with all the characters before the at (@) symbol and replaces %SERVER% with all the characters following the @ symbol.
  5. Click Ok to exit.
For Outlook 2003:
  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. On the Preferences tab, click Calendar Options.
  3. Click Free/Busy Options.
  4. Click Publish and search using Microsoft Office Internet Free/Busy Service.
  5. In the Search locations box type the fully qualified path to the location that you want to search for the free/busy information. You can use any valid URL format, such as: http://..., file://\\..., or ftp://....

    Outlook supports %NAME% and %SERVER% substitutions.

    The following is an example of using these substitutions:
    ftp://%SERVER%/Freebusy/%NAME%.vfb
    In an Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) address, Outlook replaces %NAME% with all the characters before the at (@) symbol and replaces %SERVER% with all the characters following the @ symbol.
  6. Click OK three times to close all dialog boxes.

How to Set the Free/Busy Search Path for a Specific Contact

For Outlook 2013:

  1. In the Home tab, under Current View, select Business Card.
  2. Double-click to open a Contact.
  3. In the Contact tab, under Show, click Details.
  4. Under the text that reads Internet Free-Busy, in the Address box, type the fully qualified path of the location that you want to search for this Contact's free/busy information. You can use any valid URL format, such as the following: http://..., file://\\..., or ftp://....

    The following is an example of a valid format:
    ftp://Contactserver/Freebusy/Contactname.vfb
    Internet free/busy information displays on the Scheduling tab of appointments and meetings.
For Outlook 2010, 2007 and 2003:
  1. In the Contacts folder, double-click to open a Contact.
  2. Click the Details tab.
  3. Under the text that reads Internet Free-Busy, in the Address box, type the fully qualified path of the location that you want to search for this Contact's free/busy information. You can use any valid URL format, such as the following: http://..., file://\\..., or ftp://....

    The following is an example of a valid format:
    ftp://Contactserver/Freebusy/Contactname.vfb
    Internet free/busy information displays on the Scheduling tab of appointments and meetings.

How to Plan a Meeting Using Internet Free/Busy Information

  1. In the Calendar folder, click New Meeting Request on the Actions menu.
  2. On the Scheduling tab, type the name of each attendee in the All Attendees box.
Outlook follows the URL path (as previously specified) for the individuals that you invite and automatically inserts their free/busy information in the planner.

Outlook publishes and retrieves free/busy information every 15 minutes by default. You can manually override this time increment by pointing to Send And Receive on the Tools menu, and then clicking Free/Busy Information. This updates the free/busy information immediately.

Web Publishing Wizard 1.6 version works with Microsoft Windows 2000 in some cases, depending on your network configuration. However, it is untested and not supported.

Properties

Article ID: 291621 - Last Review: April 26, 2013 - Revision: 12.0
Applies to
  • Microsoft Outlook 2013
  • Microsoft Outlook 2010
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2007
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2003
  • Microsoft Outlook 2002 Standard Edition
Keywords: 
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