Exchange 2013 CU3 causes headaches for OWA on Windows XP

By Tony Redmond,

If you're running Windows XP on the desktop, you already know that the April 2014 deadline for termination of extended support is looming. Exchange 2013 CU3 might just be giving you a little hint too as it seems that IE8 on Windows XP doesn't deliver a great user experience with Outlook Web App. In fact, it's horrible. Or even worse than horrible - and Firefox browsers also seem to have problems. So the writing is on the wall - time to upgrade and move away from Windows XP, even if client desktop refreshes are always horrible, expensive, and painful to manage.

The release of Exchange 2013 CU3 might just be the call to action to replace old browsers. Some early diployments (mostly test so far) have reported severe performance problems with Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) and Firefox version 24 when running Outlook Web App (OWA), with the likely culprit being some JavaScript problmes that cause memory leaks and poor performance. It might well be the case that the new multi-platform touch-capable OWA architecture introduced in Exchange 2013 is too much for IE8 to handle.

We've known that IW8 and the Exchange 2013 version of OWA don't get on too well for some time now. Indeed, Microsoft's official stance for Office 365 is that support for IE8 will end on April 8, 2014. KB2871314 provides a clue why OWA might have a problem in CU3 saying that IE8 users will experience:

"slow performance when they perform common tasks such as the following:

  • Read new mail
  • Send and receive mail
  • Select recipients from the global address list (GAL)
  • Select folders"

The article goes on to say that the problem is caused by "JavaScript performance and memory usage issues in Internet Explorer 8" Pretty cleat - use IE8 and have a nice day.

Given that Exchange 2013 CU3 is essentially an on-premises version of the Exchange Online software running in Office 365 (albeit several weeks or so in development terms behind), it should come as no surprise that if Office 365 damns IE8 with weak of no praise that Exchange 2013 won't be too happy for people to use IE8 either.

What is surprising is that Microsoft hasn't been more emphatic in getting the message across to on-premises customers, perhaps because some sensitivity already exists in the upcoming termination of extended support for Windows XP in April 2014. IE8 is, of course, the last version of the browser supported by Windows XP. Unfortunately the option to upgrade IE doesn't exist as Microsoft doesn't support IE9 and later versions on Windows XP.

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