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Outlook 2013 - autodiscover fails http status 503, Office 365

Posted on 2014-10-22
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Last Modified: 2014-11-06
I have a client who connects to the Internet via a satellite connection.  It's relatively fast, but high latency, with a typical ping time of 1000ms or so.

The user had Outlook 2007 installed under Windows 7, and found that, while it occasionally connected to Exchange Online, mostly it was in a Disconnected state.  I upgraded that machine to Outlook 2013 to see if it helped, but it hasn't done.

If I run an Autodiscover test at https://testconnectivity.microsoft.com for that user, it completes with no problems.  So everything's set up correctly at the server end.

If I run Outlook 2013's "Test E-mail Autoconfiguration..." diagnostic with the Autodiscover option only checked (unchecking GuessSmart), it gives the output as shown here:

 Autodiscover----Satellite-connection.JPG
As you can see, the autodiscover request to https://pod51031.outlook.com is failing with http status code 503 (which is "Service Unavailable" according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_HTTP_status_codes#5xx_Server_Error).

However, if I run the same test from Outlook 2013 on another machine with an ADSL connection to the Internet, I get this:

Autodiscover test running from ADSL connection
I'm wondering if this is failing on the machine connecting via Satellite Internet because it's timing out.  I've not been able to test this theory, however, as I wasn't able to find any options for increasing timeouts for autodiscovery.

Does the timeout theory sound plausible?  If so, is there anything that can be done?  Alternative theories and suggestions also very welcome!
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Question by:wakatashi
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Expert Comment

by:Vasil Michev (MVP)
ID: 40396517
If it's OK on different machine, it might as well be the network connectivity. We know it's not server side as both ExRCA and the other machines are OK.

Can you actually open https://pod51031.outlook.com/autodiscover/autodiscover.xml on that machine, just to make sure it's not some firewall issue? Can you try with a different connection, Wifi for example?
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by:wakatashi
ID: 40396790
Thanks Vasil - good idea!  

Result was the following, which I believe (after Googling around a little) is normal?

<Autodiscover xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/autodiscover/responseschema/2006">
<Response>
<Error Time="11:55:09.8948571" Id="1913010239">
<ErrorCode>600</ErrorCode>
<Message>Invalid Request</Message>
<DebugData/>
</Error>
</Response>
</Autodiscover>

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There isn't another type of connection where these guys are - they're in the middle of nowhere!
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by:Vasil Michev (MVP)
ID: 40396956
Yes, this seems like a normal response. Well I guess you can always ask them to use OWA instead of Outlook? :)
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Author Comment

by:wakatashi
ID: 40396961
Well yes, they can do that, but even with the latest version it's not quite as good as "real" Outlook - would prefer to get them working with that if I can.   Anything else I could look at?
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Expert Comment

by:Vasil Michev (MVP)
ID: 40397178
Not sure, it indeed seems that the issue is due to high latency/timeouts. One thing to check is to make sure that they use cached mode, at it should be less sensitive to high latencies.

Can you also check the actual RPC dialog in Outlook (hold CTRL and right click on the tray icon, select connection info)?

Another thing you can check is route/ping to outlook.office365.com or other Exchange Online resources. There is a chance that the mailboxes in question are simply located in a datacenter in another territory (different than the one you created the tenant for).
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Accepted Solution

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Gareth Gudger earned 1000 total points
ID: 40398022
It does sound like a latency issue because of the satellite connection.

As much as I hate to say it.... maybe POP3 to Office 365? Of course, that creates risk by downloading all messages to a local PST. As well as negates many of the benefits of an Exchange account connection versus a mail-only POP3 connection. But that may be your only option. Let's hope it doesn't come to that!
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by:wakatashi
ID: 40399219
Thanks guys.  They were using cached mode, and a ping to outlook.office365.com resolves to outlook-emeawest.office365.com (we're in the UK, so all good there).

To follow a similar path to your suggestion, Gareth, have set them up to connect using IMAP, and it appears to be working (there are a lot of folders to sync but it's getting there).  Not ideal, as you say as it doesn't support contacts, calendars, etc.  But the user's going to road test it for a day or so - will report back in a day or so.

Thanks both for your continuing help!
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Expert Comment

by:Gareth Gudger
ID: 40399241
I was going to recommend IMAP, but I wasn't sure if that may be too much for the satellite connection as well. Glad you got that working over IMAP. At least data remains on the server.
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by:wakatashi
ID: 40424225
Well, the customer's kinda up and running using IMAP.  It's not great either over the satellite connection, but it does work.

Guess the moral of the story is - don't get a satellite Internet connection unless you really, really, REALLY have no other options!  :-)

Thanks for your help, guys.
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Expert Comment

by:Gareth Gudger
ID: 40427030
Fingers crossed for faster satellite connections that are low latency.
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