Touch Mode in OWA 2013

By Serdar Yegulalp, SearchExchange [Published May 2013]

One of the most significant additions to OWA 2013 is a touch-friendly mode. This isn't surprising, as the rising number of devices that don't offer anything but touch input makes it all but mandatory.

Touch mode in OWA 2013 does a couple things. First, it uses the more widely spaced variant of the Microsoft Modern UI to make things easier to hit with a finger. Also, it places fewer elements on the display, resulting in a cleaner and more orderly look.

There are two versions of touch mode in OWA 2013, and each mode is optimized to make the best use of the client device in question: Wide mode is designed for tablets, and narrow mode is designed for mobile phones.

OWA 2013 normally attempts to determine whether or not to switch to touch mode by polling the client device for information about it.

Outlook Web App gets it right most of the time, but there are instances where it doesn't. Chrome for Android, for example, may be set to advertise itself as a mobile browser, but many Windows 7 tablets running Chrome act as though they are desktop machines by default.

Another example that's been known to trip people up is when, for example, a user launches Internet Explorer on the Microsoft Surface, but uses the old-school desktop edition of IE, not the Modern UI version. The individual is using a touch device, but the application advertises itself to the server as an old-fashioned desktop.

In cases like these, you can force touch mode by appending a parameter to the end of the URL that employees use to access OWA 2013. To manually set "wide" touch mode, add ?layout=twide to the end of the URL. To set "“narrow" mode, use ?layout=tnarrow. By doing this, you can create a bookmark that always opens OWA 2013 in the correct mode, no matter what device your employees are using.

Note: Review the "Supported browsers" section in the What's New for Outlook Web App in Exchange 2013 document on TechNet.

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Will tablet and Smart phone use be a big part of your OWA 2013 deployment?