By virtue of its tight integration with Active Directory,
you can create granular query-based distribution groups using Exchange. With a
group of this type, you do not have to explicitly specify the members of an e-mail
list. Instead, you can send a message to this list, which dynamically generates
the list of addressees each time a message is sent. Now, as you add users to
Active Directory, as long as you create them with appropriate parameters that
can be picked up by a query, that user can be made a member of any number of
distribution groups without having to remember to add the user to each group to
which they should be assigned membership.

To create a query-based distribution group, Exchange needs
to be running in native mode. Your domain does not have to be native, though. If
you’re running Exchange 2003 on Windows 2000, see Microsoft knowledgebase article
before you continue.

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Distribution groups are created from within Active Directory
Users and Computers. To get started, open this utility and follow these steps:

  • Select
    the Organizational Unit in which you want to place the distribution group.
  • Choose
    Action > New > Query-based Distribution Group. If your Exchange
    system is not in native mode, you will get an error message and will be
    unable to continue.
  • On the
    New Object screen, provide a name for the new group and click Next.
  • The
    next screen asks you to filter the recipient list so that your group is
    created with the appropriate users. You can limit the recipient list to
    just those within a specific OU, or to just a specific kind of contact
    (i.e., users with an Exchange mailbox, users with external mail addresses,
    mail-enabled public folders, etc). You can also create a custom filter
    that is based on just about any Active Directory attribute you like,
    including custom fields. You can also limit your group to users on
    specific Exchange servers. Click Next when you’re
  • The
    next screen provides you with a summary, along with the query string that
    Exchange will use to build the recipient list.

Here’s an example query string that creates a query-based
distribution group that sends mail to all users with Exchange addresses and
that are in the IT department: (&(!cn=SystemMailbox{*})(&(&(&(&
(mailnickname=*) (| (&(objectCategory=person)(objectClass=user)(|(homeMDB=*)(msExchHomeServerName=*))) )))(objectCategory=user)(department=IT))))

It’s probably not something you’d want to create manually!