Problem with Exchange 2003 SP2 OWA and Windows XP SP3 When Using the Jerusalem Time Zone

Posted on January 8, 2009 by Daniel Petri in Exchange Server with 0 Comments

During some of the consulting sessions that I hold with my various clients I often stumble upon things that I know (these make me happy), things that I did not know (these make me go back to my books/online resources), and things that I didn’t know even existed. But sometimes I also find things that simply make me mad. So was the case with the recent bug I discovered in Windows Server 2008 – “Windows Backup Bug Prevents Israeli Administrators from Backing Up Windows Server 2008” article, and so is the following bug.

It seems that if you’re using Windows XP SP3 (which was released to the public earlier this year), and you have IE7 installed on the computer (which you should), and you’re using the DST+2 Jerusalem time zone, AND you’re using Exchange 2003 SP2 Outlook Web Access (OWA) to work with your mailbox – you will not be able to reply or forward email messages!

Here are the repro details:

    1. I’ve used a brand new installation of Windows XP SP3 (downloaded from MSDN).
    2. My tests were performed against 2 different Exchange 2003 SP2 servers in 2 different organizations.
    3. As you know, Windows XP SP3 comes without IE7. So, I tried without installing IE7. OWA works great in IE6. I installed the latest SMIME addon from within the OWA > Options window. OWA works great.
    4. Next, I tried after installing IE7 + all available hotfixes from Windows Update. OWA works fine, however I am prompted to accept ActiveX. As long as I DO NOT accept the ActiveX prompt, OWA works fine, but the SMIME addon is not loaded, and I don’t get the SMIME benefits such as usage of all system fonts, ability to drag and drop messages onto other messages, and ability to read and write encrypted and digitally signed messages. Read more about the SMIME benefits on my “S/MIME Benefits in OWA 2003” article.

Now, I do not know if you guys are aware of this, but OWA has a problem with non-Western messages that are encoded in Hebrew, Arabic or any other non-Western encoded message. I have written about this in the past – see my “Hebrew (and Arabic) messages sent from Outlook Web Access (OWA) 2003 have subject lines made of question marks (????)” article, and the ONLY workaround is to either change the IE Language to the right language (Hebrew in my case), and have to live with working from right to left, or install the SMIME addon, and be able to use the English interface.

 

  • In case you wondered, the SMIME addon IS installed, but since I did not allow the ActiveX to run, it is not functioning. If you go to the Options screen you’ll see that it looks as though it’s not installed.

 

  • The moment I accept the ActiveX prompt, something breaks in OWA and I CANNOT forward or reply to emails that are in my mailbox. This only happens to messages that are NOT encoded in Western encoding.

 

  • Trying to reply or forward a message causes the blank screen to appear, with errors on page.

 

  • If I remove the SMIME addon, OWA works great again, but I lose all the SMIME addon benefits.
  • Here comes the nasty part: If you configure the computer to use a different time zone, be it Athens or Minsk (any time zone, although you *should* keep it in the GMT+2 area), everything works just fine! The moment you go back to the Jerusalem Time Zone, you experience the same issue.

 

This “issue” with XP SP3/IE7, the Jerusalem Time Zone and the SMIME addon causes a lot of issues here in Israel, and it’s not the first time I found a bug when using this time zone – read my “Windows Backup Bug Prevents Israeli Administrators from Backing Up Windows Server 2008” article.

This bug was confirmed by various readers, no fix is available so far. Stay tuned for more information.

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