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Outlook using Russian charset in outgoing emails even though default charset is en-US

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  • Outlook using Russian charset in outgoing emails even though default charset is en-US

    This is an issue that has become more prevalent in our enterprise because more of our customers email filters are blocking emails with the Russian charset (koi8-r).

    We operate an Exchange 2003 Enterprise server with about 400 mailboxes for a company in the continental US. The end user machines are a combination of Windows XP and Windows 7 Pro (32 and 64). And there is a variety of Outlook 2003, 2007 and a few 2010 clients. They are all set to use html formatting, and all of our users have a specifically formatted signature based on a policy from investor relations.

    For some reason, any email that is sent out from any of our Outlook clients is sent using the koi8-r charset instead of the specified default iso-8851. (I can verifiy this by viewing the source on the sent message.) This is becoming a problem because more and more of our customers are using mail filters that block emails containing the Russian charset. I don't understand how/why Outlook is attaching the wrong charset when the emails do not contain any Russian characters or fonts. Each client I look at only has US English language installed and set as default.

    The only time I have been able to get Outlook to use the correct charset is by going into options and unchecking the option that tells Outlook to automatically select the language settings. (This was on an Outlook 2003 client). Although this seemed to work, there are several problems.
    1. It would be a nightmare to have to go into hundreds of Outlook clients to manually change this setting.
    2. I've found that my Outlook 2010 client is doing the same thing, and I cannot find where to change this behavior. (It was easier to find in 2003)
    3. The setting seems to revert back to the default automatic behavior. (possibly after Office/Outlook security updates are installed.)

    I'm at a loss. All of the online searches I've done have resulted in plenty of tutorials on how to get Outlook to use Russian characters. I've found nothing that relates to my issue.

    Has anyone encountered anything like this?

  • #2
    Re: Outlook using Russian charset in outgoing emails even though default charset is e

    I have just started experiencing the exact same issue with machines in our office. We have a mix of Win XP and Win 7 Pro (64) machines running Office 2007 and 2010.

    Unfortunately, I haven't come up with a solution for why this is happening. I can, however, tell you how to change the setting in Outlook 2010. You need to go to File, Options, Advanced. Scroll down to International options and uncheck Automatically select encoding for outgoing messages. This should force the use of the preferred encoding type listed.

    I hope someone can come up with a fix or at least give a reason for why the charset (koi8-r) is suddenly starting to show up when English is showing as the default language.


    • #3
      Re: Outlook using Russian charset in outgoing emails even though default charset is e

      I think I've isolated the source of our Russian charset issue. It has to do with the signature. When our IR group created the standard for the signature, they included a template for users to modify and make their own. This template had the koi8-r charset on it.

      So, I decided to try to figure out why it had that charset. I could be wrong, but I think this is what happened. The person who created the original signature did so in Word. For some reason Word was using the Windows-1251 code page which includes support for cyrillic characters. When Outlook attaches the signature to an HTML email, the Windows-1251 codepage is translated to the koi8-r charset in order to maintain support for cyrillic chars.

      The only 2 solutions I see are:

      1. have everyone delete their signature and manually recreate it without using Word.
      2. Instruct users to use Rich Text Format instead of HTML. I've found RTF emails do not have the charset designation in their source.