iOS 4.2 bugs: Exchange 2003 causing problems?

iOS 4.2 bugs: Exchange 2003 causing problems?

iOS 4 on iPhone and iPad and Exchange 2003 just don't seem to be playing nicely together, especially when it comes to Calendar events -- they mysteriously disappear from ActiveSync, invitation replies refuse to send, and, well, don't get me started.

Both problems are serious for enterprise users. In the first you create or accept and Exchange event invitation, it gets added to your Calendar, and then -- poof! -- it's gone. But only from ActiveSync. If you look in Outlook or OWA (web interface) it's still there. If you're relying on ActiveSync on your iPhone or iPad, you could miss your meeting, call, conference sessions, etc.

The second involves receiving an Exchange invitation and trying to accept or decline it and being told your message can't be sent:

Calendar Invitation

Your response to the invitation cannot be sent.

It may not cause you to miss events but it can cause problems for teams trying to keep track of who is attending which event.

For Mac users these problems are exacerbated by both Apple's OS X and Microsoft's Office not supporting Office 2003 over ActiveSync, only Exchange 2007 and later. That leaves OWA (the limited version supported outside Internet Explorer) as the sole way to look at a true representation of your Exchange system.

Since corporate users can seldom if ever force their IT departments to upgrade to Exchange 2007 or 2010, and support for 2003 is already being discontinued and likely won't get a lot of support attention, fixes may be few and far between.

Anyone else experiencing these or other problems with iOS 4 (iOS 4.0, iOS 4.1, or iOS 4.2) and Exchange 2003? Any workaround you've figured out -- other than copying events to Google Calendar for safe keeping?

Let me know in the comments and help us trouble shoot in the iPhone Forum.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iOS 4.2 bugs: Exchange 2003 causing problems?


My office has Exchange 2003 and I've had this bug for a while now (since at least 4.0). My workaround has been to only accept invites through Outlook. I haven't tried to accept one on my iPhone since the 4.2 update but I'll try it this afternoon and report back.

My work is in the process of upgrading to 2010 which will solve the problem. On another note, they are working on being able to access your work exchange from apple products like the iPhone, and iPad.

Four days after upgrading to 4.2.1, Activesync on our server completely stopped working. After much digging and cursing, I ran across two registry modifications that have corrected the problem for now. I could not discern whether it was an iOS problem or a SBS problem, but activesync was working perfectly for 4 years prior to upgrading to 4.2.1. Apple was no help and neither was Microsoft. They just blamed each other.

Can you send me the registry changes you made for the calendar sync issue with iPhone and Exchange 2003.

Daniel would you please post the solution up for everyone to take a look at. If you have found a solution that would be great because this is a big issue that alot of people are having.

This is like saying there is a bug with Windows XP. The program is old, support discontinued. Any enterprise still on 2003 is setting themselves up for problems. EVERYONE should have switched to exchange 2007 immediately because it was such a huge improvement over 2003 in terms of speed, resources, features, etc.
I do not feel sorry for anyone still on Exchange 2003 and having this problem, just like I do not feel sorry for anyone on Windows XP having problems with newer programs.

I respectfully disagree with the comment that everyone should be on Exchange 2007 or higher. New equipment costs and all the licensing involved amounts to quite a sum, even for smaller installations. And to add to that, the recession hit right about the time upgrades would have been performed. Security fixes are still being released, and that is fine for a number of IT departments with slashed budgets. I will agree that 2007 and 2010 add a number of performance enhancements that will add value in the long run, but during trying economic times, you sometimes have to make short term decisions based on financial concerns. And if the current setup is paid for and working while still receiving security patches, then I can see why upgrading would be pushed back.

Much less costly for my budget to have the company drop the 6 iPhones we have than to upgrade our server 2003/R2 OS and Exchange 2003 - which work just fine, and are still supported and valid.
Not everyone wants, or really needs the latest device/feature. IT pros like proven reliability, and stability. Also, as Applejosh states - the money just isn't there for 'luxuries' during these economic times.

Just bought an Iphone 3G, am unable to sync calendar events, address book, etc. from Microsoft Outlook. I had no problems with my Blackberry Pearl. ITunes helpers say (after 1 hour on the phone) that it's my software. I'm using Vista and 2007 software. Any help would be appreciated.

My boss was told Friday at the Apple store that IOS 5 will not support or work with Exchange 2003. And that technically IOS 4 isn't supposed to work either.

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In our corporate environment,Exchange 2k3 on Win2k3 Srvr, we had encountered this issue about 2 years ago when iOS4 came out, and were able to resolve it...though now I cannot recall how. Worked fine for 2 years. Now, for some bizarre and as yet unknown reason the issue has again raised it's ugly head. Vast majority of my users are on iOS5 and we ALL get the error ONLY when responding to meeting invitation UPDATES, not the ORIGINAL invitations. That is the most unusual bit about these errors. And suffice it to say that my CEO is getting slightly miffed. If anyone has the REGISTRY EDITS or any other SOLUTIONS to this issue, PLEASE reply or POST them. BTW, we are planning on upgrading to Win2k8R2 and Exchange 2k7 next month, but...we need this fixed ASAP. Thanks!