Using Internet Explorer for Outlook Web Access (OWA)

Filed in by Carl Davison | May 26, 2009 12:58 pm

If you signed up for Microsoft Exchange[1], you can access OWA (Outlook Web Access)[2]. OWA is the cross-platform, web-based application that allows you to access Exchange accounts online. It’s the way Microsoft provides webmail capabilities for Exchange.

The Microsoft OWA web interface has two versions: OWA Premium and OWA Light.

Which version you’re presented with is based on which browser you use.  OWA Premium is only accessible when using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser.  If you’re using any other browser, you’ll end up using OWA Light.  As the name Premium suggests, this version most closely replicates Outlook’s high-end functionality and experience. The Light version has reduced functionality and looks different from the OWA premium version.

Check out a video demonstration[3] of OWA Premium from Microsoft.

The first question we get when folks try to use OWA in another browser is usually, “Why doesn’t OWA Premium work in non-Internet Explorer browsers?”

There is a reason for two versions. No, it’s not part of a widespread plot by Microsoft to force us to use their product for full OWA functionality. According to the Microsoft Exchange Team’s blog[4], (scroll down to the last section called “Why doesn’t Premium work on Firefox?“).

You may be wondering, “What’s in the premium version that’s not in the Light version?” Quite a bit, actually. Here’s a list of what OWA Premium includes that the Light version does not (from the Microsoft Exchange team’s blog[5]):

As you can see, there are some major collaboration features available in the OWA Premium version. This is the major reason we suggest using IE. In addition, there are some added abilities of OWA Premium that you may not know about.

Have questions about these special capabilities? Ask us[6].

  1. Microsoft Exchange:
  2. OWA (Outlook Web Access):
  3. video demonstration:
  4. blog:
  5. from the Microsoft Exchange team’s blog:
  6. Ask us:

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