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How to customize OWA authentication logon in Exchange Server 2003

In Exchange 2003, OWA authentication requires, by default, a domain name and username to log on. Learn how to customize the OWA logon to avoid this hassle.

In Exchange Server 2003, Outlook Web Access (OWA) requires, by default, that users supply both a domain name and a username when logging in. This is done using the format <domain_name>\<login_name> in the logon dialog box. Unfortunately, users often forget to include the domain name when logging into OWA and are unable to log in successfully.

Although it is possible to log in to OWA with only a username and no domain name, it requires a little administrative work and some prerequisites. The Exchange server must be running on Windows Server 2003 SP1 or later, and the Exchange virtual directory in Internet Information Services (IIS) must be configured to accept only Basic authentication.

To customize the OWA logon page in Exchange Sever 2003:

  1. Open Exchange System Manager (ESM).
  2. Expand Administrative Groups -> <admin_group_name> (which will vary) -> Servers -> <server_name> -> Protocol -> HTTP -> Exchange Virtual Server.
  3. Right click on Exchange and select Properties -> Access -> Authentication.
  4. Select the Basic authentication checkbox and clear all other checkboxes.
  5. Edit the Default domain box to contain only a single backslash (\).
  6. Click OK to close the dialog boxes.
  7. Right click on Public in Exchange Virtual Server and select Properties -> Access -> Authentication.
  8. Repeat steps 4–6 here.
  9. Repeat this procedure on all front-end and back-end Exchange servers that host OWA.

If you do this, there are several caveats to keep in mind:

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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