Set-OutlookSignatures Benefactor Circle

Centrally manage and deploy email signatures and out-of-office replies for Outlook and Exchange

Set-OutlookSignatures Benefactor Circle

Welcome!

If email signatures or out-of-office replies are on your agenda, the following is worth reading - whether you work in marketing, sales, corporate communications, the legal or the compliance department, as Exchange or client administrator, as CIO or IT lead, as key user or consultant.

Email signatures and out-of-office replies are an integral part of corporate identity and corporate design, of successful concepts for media and internet presence, and of marketing campaigns. Similar to web presences, business emails are usually subject to an imprint obligation, and non-compliance can result in severe penalties.

Central management and deployment ensures that design guidelines are met, guarantees correct and up-to-date content, helps comply with legal requirements, relieves staff and creates an additional marketing and sales channel.

You can do all this, and more, with Set-OutlookSignatures and the Benefactor Circle add-on.

Set-OutlookSignatures is the open source gold standard to centrally manage and deploy email signatures and out-of-office replies for Outlook and Exchange.
Download the free and open-source core version from GitHub for free.

ExplicIT’s Benefactor Circle add-on enhances the open source version with a great set of additional features and first-class fee-based support.

        

Table of Contents

1. Overview and features

With Set-OutlookSignatures, signatures and out-of-office replies can be:

  • Generated from templates in DOCX or HTML file format
  • Customized with a broad range of variables, including photos, from Active Directory and other sources
    • Variables are available for the currently logged-on user, this user’s manager, each mailbox and each mailbox’s manager
    • Images in signatures can be bound to the existence of certain variables (useful for optional social network icons, for example)
  • Designed for barrier-free accessibility with custom link and image descriptions for screen readers and comparable tools
  • Applied to all mailboxes (including shared mailboxes), specific mailbox groups, specific email addresses or specific user or mailbox properties, for every mailbox across all Outlook profiles (Outlook, New Outlook, Outlook Web), including automapped and additional mailboxes
  • Created with different names from the same template, one template can be used for multiple shared mailboxes
  • Assigned time ranges within which they are valid
  • Set as default signature for new emails, or for replies and forwards (signatures only)
  • Set as default OOF message for internal or external recipients (OOF messages only)
  • Set in Outlook Web for the currently logged-in user, including mirroring signatures the the cloud as roaming signatures
  • Centrally managed only, or exist along user-created signatures (signatures only)
  • Copied to an additional path for easy access to signatures on mobile devices or for use with email clients and apps besides Outlook Windows/Mac/Web: Apple Mail, Google Gmail, Samsung Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird, GNOME Evolution, KDE KMail, and others.
  • Write protected (Outlook for Windows signatures only)

Set-OutlookSignatures can be run by users on Windows, Linux and macOS clients, including shared devices and terminal servers - or on a central system with a service account.
On clients, it can run as part of the logon script, as scheduled task, or on user demand via a desktop icon, start menu entry, shortcut or any other way of starting a program - whatever your operating system and software deployment mechanism allows.
Signatures and OOF messages can also be created and pushed into mailboxes centrally, without end user or client involvement.

Sample templates for signatures and OOF messages demonstrate many features and are provided as .docx and .htm files.

Simulation mode allows content creators and admins to simulate the behavior of the software for a specific user at a specific point in time, and to inspect the resulting signature files before going live.

SimulateAndDeploy allows to deploy signatures to Outlook Web/New Outlook without any client deployment or end user interaction, making it ideal for users that only log on to web services but never to a client (users with a Microsoft 365 F-license, for example).

The software is designed to work in big and complex environments (Exchange resource forest scenarios, across AD trusts, multi-level AD subdomains, many objects). It works on premises, in hybrid and in cloud-only environments.
All national clouds are supported: Public (AzurePublic), US Government L4 (AzureUSGovernment), US Government L5 (AzureUSGovernment DoD), China (AzureChinaCloud operated by 21Vianet).

It is multi-client capable by using different template paths, configuration files and script parameters.

Set-OutlookSignatures requires no installation on servers or clients. You only need a standard SMB file share on a central system, and optionally Office on your clients.
There is also no telemetry or “calling home”, emails are not routed through a 3rd party data center or cloud service, and there is no need to change DNS records (MX, SPF) or mail flow.

A documented implementation approach, based on real life experiences implementing the software in multi-client environments with a five-digit number of mailboxes, contains proven procedures and recommendations for product managers, architects, operations managers, account managers and email and client administrators.
The implementation approach is suited for service providers as well as for clients, and covers several general overview topics, administration, support, training across the whole lifecycle from counselling to tests, pilot operation and rollout up to daily business.

The software core is Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS). It is published under a license which is approved, among others, by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and the Open Source Initiative (OSI), and is compatible with the General Public License (GPL) and other popular licenses.

ExplicIT Consulting’s commercial Benefactor Circle add-on enhances Set-OutlookSignatures with additional features and fee-based support, ensuring that the core of Set-OutlookSignatures can remain Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) and continues to evolve.

2. Demo video

3. Benefactor Circle exclusives

Software features

  • Time-based campaigns by assigning time range constraints to templates
  • Signatures for automapped and additional mailboxes
  • Set current user Outlook Web signature (classic Outlook Web signature and roaming signatures)
  • Set current user out-of-office replies
  • Download and upload roaming signatures (Linux, macOS, Windows, Classic and New Outlook)
  • Delete signatures created by the software, for which the templates no longer exist or apply
  • Delete user-created signatures
  • Copy signatures to additional signature path for use with email clients and apps besides Outlook Windows/Mac/Web: Apple Mail, Google Gmail, Samsung Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird, GNOME Evolution, KDE KMail, and others
  • High resolution images from DOCX templates
  • All components are digitally signed with an Extended Validation (EV) certificate for tamper protection and easy integration into locked-down environments.

Prioritized support and feature requests

  • Support requests are handled with priority 24/5 (Austrian business days) via a Benefactor Circle exclusive email address and a callback option.
  • Secure web storage for protected upload and temporary storage for data exchange.
  • Requests for new features are checked for feasability with priority.

Free release upgrades and archive

  • All release upgrades during the license period are included, no matter if patch, feature or major release.
  • All releases, including license files, published during the license period are available in a secured individual release archive.

4. Financial benefits of centrally managing signatures and out-of-office replies

There are three relevant questions to calculate the financial benefits:

  • How much do non-compliant signatures and out-of-office replies cost in terms of loss of reputation or in terms of fines for non-compliance?
  • What is the added value of using email as an additional marketing channel?
  • Does the new software cost less than the effort we want to save users?

While the first two are difficult to calculate and very individual, the last question is easier to answer. Let’s assume that an average employee costs 65,000 EUR per year from the employer’s point of view. Less five weeks of vacation and with a 38.5-hour week, one minute of work costs the company 0.60 EUR.

Other parameters we need are:

  • How many times a year do parameters relevant to signatures change (corporate design, job title, logos, marketing banners, etc.)?
  • How many minutes does it take a user to correctly update a single signature (including reading the instructions)?
  • How many signatures does a user typically need to keep up to date (internal and external, language, tone, signatures for shared mailboxes)?
  • On how many clients does a user need to update the signatures?

Formula: CostPerMinute * NumberOfChanges * NumberOfMinutes * NumberOfSignatures * NumberOfClients = Cost in EUR per user and year to manually keep signatures up to date

Let’s assume 2 changes per year, 3 minutes for making the change (including reading the instructions) per signature, 2 signatures, 1 client. This results in 7.20 EUR per user and year (0.60 * 2 * 3 * 2 * 1).

Per user and year, the costs are now 7.20 EUR in manual effort compared to 2.00 EUR for a centrally managed solution with Set-OutlookSignatures - and this calculation does not even take into account the manual effort for out-of-office replies and shared mailboxes, nor the costs of non-compliance with regulations and the added value of an additional marketing channel.

5. Fee-based support

The Benedactor Circle add-on is a product of ExplicIT Consulting, but not the free and open source software Set-OutlookSignatures. Since we believe that Set-OutlookSignatures is a great software, we offer our first-class fee-based support for it. If you prefer free support from the community, please open an issue on the Set-OutlookSignatures GitHub page.

Whether you use the free and open source version of Set-OutlookSignatures or the Benefactor Circle add-on as a trial or annual license: ExplicIT always provides first-class fee-based support.

You prefer to be guided through the setup and customization process instead of working through the documentation yourself? Are you looking for customized workshops, hands-on implementation support, training, template creation assistance and other services related to centralized email signature and out-of-office reply management? Then our offer is just right for you.

You are not buying just any support, but our comprehensive expertise as manufacturer, consultant and implementer. For us, support means not only providing a solution to your problem, but also passing on our experience to you so that you know how and why. Our support is therefore an investment in your own knowledge and that of your employees, which pays off immediately.

Our all-round carefree support promise: If the cause of your support request is a bug in the latest version of Set-OutlookSignatures, the Benefactor Circle add-on, their documentation or one of the supplied components, support is free - no ifs, ands or buts. In all other cases, you get the same first-class support at a fair price.

The Benefactor Circle add-on license itself does not include support hours, as support is rarely required and we want to keep the license costs as fair as possible.

Support requests from Benefactor Circle license holders are prioritized.

Only expenses actually incurred will be invoiced, by the commenced hour. Invoicing takes place monthly in arrears, with a payment term of 14 days. You may define a maximum number of work hours for each request.

Support is available 24/5 (Austrian business days) via email and a callback option. 24/7 and on-call options are available upon request.

Technical guides, FAQs, video demonstrations and additional documentation are available for free here.

6. Buying, extending and changing licenses

6.1. Price and general information

The price currently is 2.00 EUR net per mailbox and year, which equals less than 0.17 EUR net per mailbox and month.

We keep license costs as fair as possible. Fair means:

  • Small companies always just pay the same low price as big enterprises.
  • No maintenance contracts that are advertised as “free” but really are hidden in the annual price and are never used to the extent that you pay for over the years.
    With us, you only pay for the support you actually need - due to the extensive documentation, this is usually not even necessary. And in the event of a bug in our software or its components, support is free of charge.
  • No additional infrastructure that someone else runs for you and for which costs are incurred regardless of usage.
    No interfaces that regularly transfer your data to external data centers for the preparation of signatures and to which you have to redirect every email for the application of signatures.
    Everything runs on your existing systems, which you already trust and govern, and within your own security boundaries.
  • No deliberately inflated prices that are then lowered through negotiations.

There is no minimum number of mailboxes, only a minimum amount of EUR 250.00 net per invoice.

Each mailbox in your environment for which you want to use an exclusive Benefactor Circle feature requires a license. This also applies to shared mailboxes.

It does not matter how many users access a mailbox. If you only want to provide signatures for a single mailbox that is used by 50 people, you only need to purchase 1 license.

The mailboxes do not need to be named, you just need to define at least one Active Directory or Entra ID group containing the mailboxes and the maximum number of recursive members for each group.

It doesn’t matter how many signatures you have or how often you change them.

Licenses are payable in advance and are valid for one year from the date of receipt of full payment. There is no automatic renewal or subscription.

As long as a license is valid, it includes free version upgrades and prioritization of support requests.

We work hard to keep our prices as low and stable as possible, with the aim of only adjusting them for inflation. So prices are subject to change. Since you pay upfront, you can and will never be charged after the fact.

If you wish to add additional mailboxes during an active license period, you will only be charged the current price for these additional mailboxes for the remaining months of your license period.

6.2. Trial version

You may want to start with a 14-day trial license.

The Benefactor Circle add-on extends the feature set of the free and open-source core version of Set-OutlookSignatures, so make sure that the core version is working correctly before requesting a trial version.
If you look for help implementing the free and open-source core version of Set-OutlookSignatures, go through the Quick Start Guide in the readme file, open an issue at GitHub, or contact us: We are happy to help you implement Set-OutlookSignatures in your own environment as part of our fee-based support.

As soon as the open-source core version is running, it is time to take the next step:

To use the license file, just add two parameters to your call of Set-OutlookSignatures.ps1:

  • BenefactorCircleLicenseFile with the path to your individualized license file
  • BenefactorCircleId with your Benefactor Circle ID

Trial licenses can not be extended or re-issued. They are limited to 14 days runtime and a maximum of 20 mailboxes.
The trial period starts when we create and submit the trial version, not with you using it for the first time (that’s not possible, as our software does not phone home).
It is strongly recommended to start your trial only when the free and open-source version of Set-OutlookSignatures has already been implemented successfully. Also make sure you have a test plan and reserved time to execute it.

6.3. Order process for non-trial versions

You will receive a quote shortly. As soon as all details are ironed out, you will receive an invoice and can start the payment process.

As soon as the full invoice amount is received, you will be sent an email with instructions on how to securely download your individualized license file.

To use the license file, just add two parameters to your call of Set-OutlookSignatures.ps1:

  • BenefactorCircleFile with the path to your individualized license file
  • BenefactorCircleId with your Benefactor Circle ID

6.4. Extending or reducing a license period

A license period cannot be extended. Licenses are valid for one year, starting with the date the full payment is received, and do not auto-renew.

To continue using Set-OutlookSignatures with Benefactor Circle benefits, just place a new order to receive a new license file.

You will be informed in advance that your license is about to expire.

6.5. Reducing the number of licensed mailboxes

The total number of licensed mailboxes can not be reduced during a license period (one year starting from the date of payment reception), as the license fees are paid in advance.

6.6. Moving licensed mailboxes between license groups

Moving licenses means that the total number of licensed mailboxes does not change, but their distribution across license groups. This can, for example, be necessary due to Active Directory consolidations.

Shifting licenses between license groups is possible once per license period.

If more license shifts are required, additional licenses have to be acquired temporarily, the total number of licenses can then be reduced when the new license period begins.

6.7. Increasing the number of licensed mailboxes

When adding licenses during a license period, you only pay for the new mailboxes and only for the remaining months in the running license period. The license price for the new mailboxes is the list price at the time ordering the additional mailboxes.

The new payment does not extend the existing license period, but it increases the number of licensed mailboxes in it.

An example:

  • After a trial with 20 mailboxes, you start a pilot with 110 mailboxes in mid of April 2023. The license is valid until mid of April 2024, with the following cost: max(250; (110 * 2.00)) = 250.00 EUR net
  • As the pilot is a success, the number of licensed mailboxes is raised to 7,500 in July 2023.
    • The license period does not change, the license is still valid from mid of April 2023 to mid of April 2024, of course with the higher number of mailboxes.
  • The added licenses result in the following costs:
    • Year 1 total cost of 12,566.67 EUR, consisting of
      • Year 1 cost for 110 mailboxes for 12 months: max(250; (110 * 2.00)) = 250.00 EUR net
      • Year 1 additional mailboxes for 10 months (July 2023 to mid of April 2024): max(250; ((7,500 - 110) * 2.00 / 12 * 10) = 12,316.67 EUR net
    • As long as the price is not changing, the consecutive years will cost: max(250; (7,500 * 2.00)) = 15,000.00 EUR net

7. How license groups work

Each Benefactor Circle license is bound to one or more Active Directory or Entra ID groups.

  • Each mailbox of your company needs to be a direct or indirect (a.k.a. nested, recursive or transitive) member of a license group, so that it can use exclusive features.
  • Each group may only contain as many mailboxes as direct or indirect members as defined in the license.
  • The user running Set-OutlookSignatures must be able to resolve all direct and indirect members of the license group, even across trusts.
  • Primary group membership is not considered due to Active Directory and Entra ID query restrictions.

License groups are defined by the DNS domain name of the on-premises Active Directory domain (‘EntraID’ for cloud-only groups), their SID (security identifier) or GUID (Entra ID Object ID) and the number of members licensed.

  • Use ‘EntraID’ instead of the on-prem Active Directory DNS name if the group only exists in Entra ID and is not synced with your on-premises Active Directory. Only one pure Entra ID group is supported, it must be the group with the highest priority (first list entry).
  • If you have multiple domains in a forest or multiple forests, you can have only one license group, or one license group per AD domain, each license group with a separate maximum member count.
  • There must be a default group, which is used for mailboxes which are not covered by separate license groups.

When a license group for the home Active Directory domain of a mailbox is defined, this license group is used. If not, the license group defined as default will be used.

There are three situations where Set-OutlookSignatures uses Entra ID via Graph API instead of on-prem AD:

  • Parameter GraphOnly is set to true,
  • no connection to the on-prem AD is possible,
  • or the current user has a mailbox in Exchange Online and either OOF messages or Outlook Web signatures should be set

In these cases, license groups are handled as follows:

  • If the current mailbox has the Graph “onPremisesDomainName” attribute set:
    • If there is a license group associated with this DNS domain name, it is queried via Graph
    • If there is no license group associated with this DNS domain name, the license group defined as default is queried via Graph
  • If the current mailbox does not have the Graph “onPremisesDomainName” attribute set, the license group defined as default is queried via Graph

8. License and software version

License and software versions go hand in hand, so every new release of Set-OutlookSignatures also means a new license release, and vice-versa.

Using different versions of software and license file is not supported, as this leads to unexpected results.

A warning message is logged when a version mismatch is detected.

9. Data protection notice

Set-OutlookSignatures and the Benefactor Circle license add-on do not store any telemetry data, do not “phone home”, and do not transfer any data, only the absolute minimum necessary data between:

  • the end user’s Windows client,
  • the end user’s on-prem Active Directory and/or Entra ID,
  • the end user’s Exchange or Exchange Online system,
  • https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Set-OutlookSignatures/Set-OutlookSignatures/main/docs/releases.txt to check for new releases,
  • and the file server or SharePoint document library storing the sofware, it’s sub-components, template and configuration files.

The data transfer always happens in the security context of the user executing the program.

For license purposes, only the absolutely required information is stored and processed: Invoice address, email addresses for technical and commercial communication, license group information (domain, SID, maximum members) and payment information.