An OWA authentication anomaly

If you've configured Outlook Web Access to use Basic authentication, it may spontaneously revert to the default Integrated authentication setting after a reboot.

By default, Outlook Web Access (OWA) uses the Integrated authentication scheme to verify user logins. But there are sometimes circumstances for which you may want to reset OWA to use Basic authentication -- for instance, if clients are connecting to the OWA server via SSL or are not exclusively using Internet Explorer to connect to OWA.

Some people have reported that after setting the OWA directory to use Basic authentication in the Internet Services Manager console, it spontaneously reverts to Integrated authentication after a reboot. This can cause non-IE clients to fail without warning, and requires that the administrator reset Basic authentication on the OWA directories by hand.

Peruse the Outlook Web Access Reference Center for more tips and resources.

This spontaneous reversion is often due to a conflict between Exchange System Manager (ESM)'s settings and the Internet Services Manager (ISM)'s settings.

If ISM is set to use Basic authentication on OWA, but ESM is still set to use Integrated authentication, ESM's directory settings will overwrite ISM's settings. Since this behavior isn't terribly obvious or well-documented, it can escape the notice of many administrators.

To resolve the problem:

  1. Open ESM and look in Servers -> <Server Name> -> Protocols -> HTTP -> Exchange Virtual Server, where <Server Name> is the name of the Exchange server in question.
  2. Under Exchange Virtual Server, open the Properties page for the Exchange virtual directory and look in Access -> Authentication.
  3. Select "Basic authentication" and add your default domain.
  4. Click OK to close all pages. (A reboot should not be needed.)

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of Windows Insight, a newsletter devoted to hints, tips, tricks, news and goodies for all flavors of Windows users.

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This was first published in July 2005

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