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  1. #1
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    I support a small office running Exchange Server 2003 with a mix of Outlook 2003/2007 clients. I have a problem where the HTML formatting of received messages is sometimes stripped, leaving only the text. What I've been able to determine so far:

    * The problem only happens when the Outlook user is logged out of Windows or the computer is off at the time of message delivery, but only sometimes.
    * It's not simply a display-settings problem. The copy of the message on the server has apparently had the formatting stripped - viewing with Outlook Web Access shows only plain text for the messages in question.
    * The same message sent to multiple Exchange users is delivered unmodified to some but stripped to others.

    Sorry for the fuzziness of the information, but it's taken me a couple of months just to get this far. Has anyone seen this? Any suggestions on what else I can to to troubleshoot?

    Thanks.

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    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Halco View Post
    I support a small office running Exchange Server 2003 with a mix of Outlook 2003/2007 clients. I have a problem where the HTML formatting of received messages is sometimes stripped, leaving only the text.
    We've had some threads in the past about HTML format messages showing the "source" and not the HTML version. The inconsistency is peculiar, especially different copies of the message behaving differently. Could any mobile devices or remote access be affecting the mail store?

  3. #3
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    The person most often affected is not a mobile user at all, and doesn't even use Outlook Remote Access. I treat her and two others as kind of a "control group" because they are all copied on a certain html-formatted order form that shows up several times a week.. One of the three sees the problem occasionally, one has only seen it twice, and one has never seen it at all.

    A few others in the office have seen this once or twice, not enough to spot a pattern.

    I have turned on Outlook logging, but nothing unusual shows up for the affected messages. Nothing in the Exchange logs, either.

    To be clear, it's not that the html source is displayed. Rather, all the html tags have been stripped from the message, leaving only the text.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Halco View Post
    * It's not simply a display-settings problem. The copy of the message on the server has apparently had the formatting stripped - viewing with Outlook Web Access shows only plain text for the messages in question.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Halco View Post
    To be clear, it's not that the html source is displayed. Rather, all the html tags have been stripped from the message, leaving only the text.
    Sorry I misinterpreted that. I believe that when most email programs compose an HTML format message, they attach the HTML code as an attachment, and include the text in the message body. Mail agents that understand HTML use the HTML version, while mail agents that don't (such as my Windows Mobile ActiveSync client) display the text body. Which leads to this thought: perhaps a security filter or something else is stripping the HTML attachment?

  5. #5
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    Just a thought... sometimes users change options in Outlook not realizing the consequence... check this link out from MS MS Plain Text Option

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by jscher2000 View Post
    Sorry I misinterpreted that. I believe that when most email programs compose an HTML format message, they attach the HTML code as an attachment, and include the text in the message body. Mail agents that understand HTML use the HTML version, while mail agents that don't (such as my Windows Mobile ActiveSync client) display the text body. Which leads to this thought: perhaps a security filter or something else is stripping the HTML attachment?
    As it happens, the most common case involves order forms from the company's online shopping cart, which I set up. The HTML is definitely part of the message body, not attached. The shopping cart has been that way for 5 years, and worked fine until maybe 3-6 months ago. There have been no version upgrades in Outlook or Exchange, just maintenance updates.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by tkrokosh View Post
    Just a thought... sometimes users change options in Outlook not realizing the consequence... check this link out from MS MS Plain Text Option
    Every setting I can find is set correctly. Plus, messages that are delivered while Outlook is online are unaffected.

    I keep thinking it's some sort of Exchange/Outlook interaction, but I can't find any clues to point me in a useful direction.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Halco View Post
    I keep thinking it's some sort of Exchange/Outlook interaction, but I can't find any clues to point me in a useful direction.
    Could the Out of Office Assistant be involved somehow?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jscher2000 View Post
    Could the Out of Office Assistant be involved somehow?
    Hmmm. That sounds just odd enough to be a possibility. I'll have a look the next time I'm onsite. Not much to see using Outlook Web Access.

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    The reason I think it is user-based is that it is not occurring on every machine... the point that it only happens on a few suggests it may be a more of a desktop issue?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tkrokosh View Post
    The reason I think it is user-based is that it is not occurring on every machine... the point that it only happens on a few suggests it may be a more of a desktop issue?
    Backing up this thought is a discovery I made this morning, something I've been trying for a long time to catch.

    The main problem computer was off for a week while the person was on vacation. I was watching the incoming messages with Outlook Web Access, and everything looked fine. This morning she turns on the computer, loads Outlook, and the HTML is magically stripped form the messages, even as seen from Outlook Web Access.

    This is the most detailed information I've found to date. It seems clear that Outlook is stripping the formatting and writing it back to the Exchange store. BUT ONLY FOR MESSAGES THAT ARRIVED WHEN THE COMPUTER WAS OFF!

    So what does Outlook do differently with these messages? Or could Exchange still be involved somehow?

  12. #12
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Halco View Post
    It seems clear that Outlook is stripping the formatting and writing it back to the Exchange store. BUT ONLY FOR MESSAGES THAT ARRIVED WHEN THE COMPUTER WAS OFF!
    It's hard to think of anything that would fit the pattern. Does the user have any antispam or other filtering software that might be firing up at startup but then later be turned off, either manually or automatically?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jscher2000 View Post
    It's hard to think of anything that would fit the pattern. Does the user have any antispam or other filtering software that might be firing up at startup but then later be turned off, either manually or automatically?
    AVG 9.0 and Spysweeper. Those have been on the computer for a long time, before the Outlook problem started. I'll have to check the update history, though.

  14. #14
    Star Lounger MarkAtHome's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jscher2000 View Post
    Sorry I misinterpreted that. I believe that when most email programs compose an HTML format message, they attach the HTML code as an attachment, and include the text in the message body. Mail agents that understand HTML use the HTML version, while mail agents that don't (such as my Windows Mobile ActiveSync client) display the text body. Which leads to this thought: perhaps a security filter or something else is stripping the HTML attachment?
    FWIW, I am having similar problems.

    I am using Outlook 2010 x86 under Windows 7 x64 and have regularly sent out HTML emails for over 10 years that contain graphics, to specific vendors (I have HTML set as the default).

    Note that the graphics included are normally simply selected with my mouse, I Ctrl-C to copy the selection, and then Shift-Ins/Ctrl-V/etc. to paste into the email.

    I always address the email to me, and my vendors are entered in the BCC field.

    Some emails that I send get back to me fine, while others have their graphics stripped from the message and added as JPG attachments.

    Thoughts are welcome.

  15. #15
    3 Star Lounger Woody's Avatar
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    I haven't the foggiest.

    Have you tried pursuing this directly with Microsoft? I bet they'd be interested in getting to the bottom of it...
    Woody

    For Dummies book author, Senior Contributing Editor for InfoWorld, and long-suffering Windows victim. Check out the latest at AskWoody.com.

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