Improvements to the Exchange Remote Connectivity Analyzer

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Exchange Remote Connectivity Analyzer (ExRCA) has to be one of the best troubleshooting tools that the Exchange product team has ever produced.  It's a one-stop shop that allows you to test remote connectivity to an Exchange organization using Autodiscover, ActiveSync, Outlook Anywhere, Web Services, or inbound/outbound SMTP from a Microsoft hosted cloud application on the Internet.  It works with both on-prem and Office 365 Exchange organizations.

Shawn McGrath is the developer in charge of ExRCA development and previewed recent improvements to us at the MVP Summit in February 2012.  I'm pleased to say that ExRCA version 1.4 has now been released!  The biggest changes are around the CAPTCHA experience, which I've been a vocal about for the past year.  Constructive Feedback = Good.  J

Here’s a list of the changes in this release:
  • We are using a new CAPTCHA service provided by an internal team.
  • The challenge is NOT case sensitive, so it doesn't matter if you type upper or lower case letters.  We also note this on the web page.
  • The CAPTCHA challenges will not include hard to distinguish letters/numbers.  For example 2 and Z or O and 0.
  • If you get the challenge wrong, the password entries will not be removed.
  • Once you enter a correct response to the challenge, you will be verified for a set amount of time (~30 minutes).  This means you will not see additional CAPTCHA challenges until the timeout period expires.
  • The inbound SMTP test now inserts the IP address of the user performing the test into the test email message. The IP is also inserted into an SMTP Header (X-Originating-IP).
  • Fixed an issue in the Sender-ID test where certain DNS responses while evaluating the "exists" mechanism were incorrectly being treated as a TempError
  • The outbound SMTP Sender-ID tests now conform to the RFC specified limit of ten DNS-based mechanisms that can be used during the evaluation of the SPF record.
  • Fixed an issue where host names with all numbers in the top-level domain were not considered valid input
  • Fixed user interface issues that can cause the "helper bubble" to stick around when navigating in the wizard
  • Added a note to the EWS service account access test indicating that the mailbox must be empty
  • Changed the Windows Mobile Certificate test to warn instead of fail when certificates aren't trusted by Windows Mobile since many other devices also use ActiveSync and may trust the certificate
  • Changed the Outlook Anywhere mutual authentication test to report a warning instead of an error when the mutual authentication (msstd: string) only matches a Subject Alternative Name on the certificate. Windows Vista SP1 and later can handle this configuration.
  • The Outlook Anywhere Proxy Ping and HTTP Authentication Method Tests now use the full query string; this is necessary to support certain UAG configurations.
  • Added additional error mappings for known issues
Shawn also created this fun video to demonstrate the new CAPTCHA experience.


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