Outlook 2007 RPC-HTTP/SSL Connection to Exchange 2003

Motto: Don’t trust any article that seems related to a complex IT issue, after a simple Google topic search.

I was trying to configure an RPC over secure HTTP connection from Outlook 2007 to Exchange Server 2003 SP2. Initially, it failed: Outlook kept asking me for credentials, and never actually connected from outside the office, i.e. from an external ISP (unless using VPN). To resolve that issue, I have found some Microsoft articles in their Technet knowledge base archive, that pointed me to how to properly set up RPC virtual directory under IIS Manager on Windows Server 2003. Immediately after applying the changes, the credentials were asked only one time per connection, but after some time, it still failed, displaying an Offline status.

Until here I didn’t do any mistakes. But here comes the ugly part: I have started to search for more information (regarding the connection I was trying to set up) on Google and found plenty of related articles, posted within different forum threads by different IT professionals (or, as you would see later, not). I did try some of the further steps provided there: setting up different keys and values in the Registry of the server and/or client machine (I managed to remember and remove them after further failures), and setting up the RPC virtual directory document security to accept client certificates instead of ignoring them, as it was by default (this didn’t resolve anything either, but I let the Accept radio button selected, as it appeared more logical to me).

As I found it was still not working, I finally decided to give up and get some professional help, as I’m not an IT professional myself. It wasn’t OK to lose any more time on this issue, so I called a friend (highly certified on Windows Server and other related IT fields), asking him to give me some advice, if possible. He gave me a link to this article, letting me know that its author is a well known and trustful MVP on related IT topics. Looking at the provided steps in there, however, I remembered that I have already read the same article before (Google has found it in my previous search), and I have already followed it while double checking the steps that I have already executed; nothing was, therefore, new to me, except that right now I did trust this author more than others.

And then it just crossed my mind: this article never says to check the Accept client certificates radio button for document security on RPC virtual directory in IIS Manager. And other articles, from other authors, do. I previously thought that Accept would be a more logical setting myself, but who am I to trust myself? I was wrong, just like those other authors: immediately after switching back to Ignore (this was not easy – for some unknown reason I needed to remove SSL, restart IIS, then set back SSL and let Ignore selected, or otherwise Accept was set back even after selecting it and reopening properties window of the virtual directory), having all the steps in the trusted article already completed, everthing started to run smoothly and Outlook 2007 on the client computer is now able to connect to Exchange 2003 exactly as expected!

Conclusion: Don’t trust any article that seems related to a complex IT issue, after a simple Google topic search. Ask, instead, for real professional help!


About Sorin Dolha

My passion is software development, but I also like physics.
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