Well, I found the solution that works perfectly. It uses a simple Logon script, so Avery Payne, one might say you were at least partially right :)
Outlook (2003 and later, don't know about earlier versions) allows importing the profile info through PRF file. It is a plain text file, so you can write it from scratch, or preferably - export it from existing profile and edit as needed. I used the second variant.
I downloaded Office Resource Kit - I was exporting PRF file from 2003 version, so I downloaded Outlook 2003 version (ORK.EXE, download it here).
Installed it and got the Custom Installation Wizard, which enables you to export existing profile to PRF file. Needless to say, you first need to configure a working profile on the PC you're exporting from.
After successful export, I edited the PRF file to lose unnecessary stuff and to generalize some settings with Windows variables, so that I get user specific info after the PRF file is imported:
OfflineAddressBookPath=%USERPROFILE%\local settings\application data\microsoft\outlook\
I also wanted to be sure that default user profiles won't get overwritten, so I changed corresponding settings to match:
Consider also the path for Offline mail caching... You might want to rename the file if you're using two profiles, so that one profile does not overwrite the cached emails of the second profile and vice versa:
OfflineFolderPath=%USERPROFILE%\local settings\application data\microsoft\outlook\_Custom_name_here.ost
For details, read the Whitepaper: Configuring Outlook Profiles by Using a PRF File -> link
I created a very simple logon script, almost too simple, actually. I could have checked whether the profile already exists and skip the procedure altogether, but sometimes quick and dirty works just as fine:
if exist "%PROGRAMFILES%\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\OUTLOOK.EXE" (call "%PROGRAMFILES%\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\OUTLOOK.EXE" /promptimportprf "\\computername\sharename\path_to_Outlook_profile.PRF")
if exist "%PROGRAMFILES%\Microsoft Office\OFFICE12\OUTLOOK.EXE" (call "%PROGRAMFILES%\Microsoft Office\OFFICE12\OUTLOOK.EXE" /promptimportprf "\\computername\sharename\path_to_Outlook_profile.PRF")
Next, I attached script to OU Group policy and voila! I wrote Instructions for users, and still helping some to finish setting up the profile. Still much easier as manually configuring all clients.
Anyway, the following site was crucial for my breakthru, so it deserves to be linked here: Pay them a visit
Thanks to Matthew, his post pointed me in right direction.