Internet Explorer Compatibility Issues with Outlook Web App

There are many organizations today that have their production messaging systems on Exchange 2007, with Outlook Web Access 2007 (OWA) deployed for their users.  However, with technology rapidly advancing and browsers being updated regularly, those users may often access their mail from computers that have been updated with the latest versions of Internet Explorer, IE10 and IE11.  However, as is often the case when you mix new technology with older technology, compatibility issues may exist, which will in turn affect your users’ ability to get work done remotely.  This is exactly the case when users access OWA 2007 from a computer that has either Internet Explorer 10 or 11 installed – OWA Breaks!  This is in part as OWA 2007 is not officially supported on IE10 or IE11.

There are any number of scenarios where this may occur.  Considering that Windows 8.1 ships with IE11 and Windows 8 ships with IE10, there is a good chance that many users will be experiencing problems accessing their OWA webmail from a variety of devices, such as home PCs, personal laptop computers, or Windows 8 tablets.

Compatibility issues also exist with Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2013 environments running OWA on IE11.  However, Exchange 2010 and 2013 both have recently released updates to address many compatibility issues and to extend the full OWA environment (versus OWA Light) to these browsers.  However, without these latest Exchange updates installed on your corporate Exchange servers, OWA 2010 and OWA 2013 users will be forced to use OWA Light and will experience breaks in OWA functionality when accessing their mail from IE11.

What Breaks in OWA with IE10 and IE11?

Exchange 2007 Environments: Users may encounter any of the following, or other, breaks in functionality with OWA 2007 and IE10.

Symptom 1: Users receive a script error when clicking on the scroll-bar for any drop-down selection (e.g. contact name, calendar appointments, meeting requests, time intervals etc.), except for the language drop-down selection window in spell check (see Symptom 2):

OWA scrollbar error in IE10

Symptom 2: When users click the language selection scrollbar in spellcheck, instead of receiving a script error, the Spelling window disappears entirely:

OWA 2007 Spell Check Language Error

What Causes this to Happen?

Exchange determines which version of OWA (OWA Premium or OWA Light) to use based on the user agent string that the web browser supplies to the server during communications.  For Exchange 2007, only IE9 and lower are recognized and fully supported with the full OWA Premium interface.  All other browsers receive the simpler OWA Light interface, and IE10 and IE11 are not handling the web pages as desired.  Review the Exchange Server Supportability Matrix for a list of supported web browsers for Exchange 2007 and Outlook Web App.

How can I fix OWA?

Exchange 2007 Environments:  As a workaround, OWA users can turn on Compatibility View in Internet Explorer.  By turning on Compatibility View in IE10 and IE11, the web browser user agent string changes to that of IE7.  In this way, when users log in to OWA, Exchange thinks they are doing so from Internet Explorer 7 and none of the issues described above appear because IE7 is fully supported with Exchange 2007.

Follow the steps below to turn on Compatibility View:

1. In the IE10 browser, click on Tools > Compatibility View settings:

Opening Compatibility View settings in IE10

2. Add the URL for your company’s OWA website to the compatibility view list and click on Ok > Close

Adding OWA URL to Compatibility View Settings in IE10

NOTE: For scenarios where the latest Exchange updates have not been applied, turning on compatibility mode for IE11, regardless of the Exchange Version, will give OWA Premium.



For a full list of supported browsers for OWA for all version for Exchange, view the Exchange Server Supportability Matrix:

Microsoft KB Article ID: 2866064 – Can’t load OWA Premium by using Internet Explorer 11 in an Exchange Server environment:

Messageware KB Article 724 – Known issues when using Internet Explorer 10 with Exchange 2007: