Advanced OWA Branding: Changing Default Virtual Directory, Cloaking, Changing Title of OWA Pages

Posted on 2004-09-05
Last Modified: 2008-01-16

The first thing I am trying to do is to change the default virtual directory /exchange to the root directory "/" withouth adding a second exchange virtual server, if possible. MSFT lists;en-us;174707 this resource, but the files and registry edits to which it refers do not exist in Exchange 2003. Anyone know of a more recent update to this KB article that would enable me to modify the site such that the /exchange switch is no longer necessary? I have read through some EE articles on this but they focus around creating a second site, which I would prefer not to do.

Second, I'm trying to figure out where the actual OWA files are such that I can change the title (to MyCompany Outlook Web Access or some such). I have had good success in editing the login page (owalogon.asp) but can't seem to find the file to work on in order to change this.

Finally, and the expertise for this may lie more in the general web category, but I am trying to make it such that my users don't see all that garbage in the URL bar at the login screen (that is they simply see rather than Of course I know the arguments have to present in some form--but do they have to be shown to the end-users?

Really looking forward to your help.

Question by:jbreg
LVL 104

Accepted Solution

Sembee earned 400 total points
ID: 11984357
Changing OWA to be in the root directory is very simple.

1. Start IIS Manager
2. Right click on the "Default Web Site" and choose "Properties".
3. Click on the "Home Directory" tab.
4. Change the first option to "A redirection to a URL".
5. Enter "/exchange" in to the box (minus quotes)
6. Change the entry below to "A directory below URL entered".
7. Click Apply/OK and close the IIS Manager.
8. Test.

As for you other questions - I personally don't see the value in making those types of changes. If you need to apply any patches or updates to OWA then you will loose the changes. Furthermore you could break OWA if you make a single change in the wrong place. OWA for Exchange 2003 is a complex application and is very easy to break.

For hiding the URLs, the only way I can think is a 100% frame. Don't make the change I have indicated above, instead replace the default page with a framed page that opens OWA from the default location.

LVL 12

Assisted Solution

BNettles73 earned 100 total points
ID: 11985536
To really accomplish what you want, it may take some registry hacks and customizing the CSS ... that being said, I have some links below which might help you.

Official Microsoft Documentation for Customizing OWA (was for E2K but most of it, if not all, is still relevant for E2K3)

Customize the logon page from Domain\Username to Username

Managing OWA Access Features

Branding Exchange 2003 Outlook Web Access

Skinning OWA 2003

OWA 2003 Administration Utility (Download) (Tutorial)

Creating Custom Themes for OWA 2003 Tutorial

Author Comment

ID: 11985768

I did as you said and it works such that redirects to That's fine. However, I had previously set up a redirection so that would redirect to, following exactly the steps in;en-us;555126 . This no longer seems to function--any ideas?

The end goal of that portion of the project is such that and both produce the login page for OWA.

When i try it, strangely, brings up a domain prompt, which when I fill it nothing happens...
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LVL 104

Expert Comment

ID: 11987550
Change the code on your HTTP to HTTPS error page so that it just redirects without the sub folder. That should fix both problems.


Author Comment

ID: 12009482
On the latter point, I still cannot get to redirect to Instead, it goes to a logon box. When I enter even valid logins it gives a page that says ERROR: access is denied and lists the url in the addy bar as

I have tried editing the owahttps.asp file to redirect to / in both of the following ways:


<%     If Request.ServerVariables("SERVER_PORT")=80 Then         Dim strSecureURL         strSecureURL = "https://"         strSecureURL = strSecureURL & Request.ServerVariables("SERVER_NAME")         strSecureURL = strSecureURL & "/exchange"         Response.Redirect strSecureURL     End If   %>

Attempt 1 (changing "/exchange" to "/")

<%     If Request.ServerVariables("SERVER_PORT")=80 Then         Dim strSecureURL         strSecureURL = "https://"         strSecureURL = strSecureURL & Request.ServerVariables("SERVER_NAME")         strSecureURL = strSecureURL & "/"         Response.Redirect strSecureURL     End If   %>

Attempt 2 (deleting "/exchange" completely)

<%     If Request.ServerVariables("SERVER_PORT")=80 Then         Dim strSecureURL         strSecureURL = "https://"         strSecureURL = strSecureURL & Request.ServerVariables("SERVER_NAME")         strSecureURL = strSecureURL   Response.Redirect strSecureURL     End If   %>

Also, is there an inherent delay in using redirects such as this--I noticed page loading time is a bit slow. For that reason I'd prefer to edit this in the registry as per the first KB article I mentioned that refers only to earlier versions of exchange...

Thanks for all your help!
LVL 104

Expert Comment

ID: 12009597
The main issue you have here is that using the method you have used OWA requires authentication - even when on the redirect. The page will not load until authentication is complete.

I wouldn't touch the code - any changes that you make will be lost on the next service pack update. I also think you are trying to achieve too much before the basics are working. Before adjusting code get the default files and installation to work as required.

I would make the change to have /exchange as the default on that site. That is a change to the IIS configuration for the default web site.
Next I would enable the require SSL option in IIS.
Then adjust the IIS error page to redirect as per the MS KB article.
That should be all you need to do.


Author Comment

ID: 12011073
I actually got it working. I used Simon's comments about changing the home dir on the default ws directory to /exchange and a directory below the current directory. Then I created a second website which looks for the host header and redirects to, which covers both people who type in and

However, what would have been ideal is for MSFt to update the KB article;en-us;174707  to support newer versions of exchange, which details how to edit the registry, etc to change the default virtual directory of exchange.

Many thanks for all your help!


Expert Comment

ID: 13290104
Thank you Simon and Jay,

The combination of your solutions worked perfectly for me.


Author Comment

ID: 13291337

We are really happy with the implementation--it makes the OWA front end feel very in brand for us...

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