Office Web Apps 2013

An additional application next to Exchange Server 2013 is a new server product called Office Web Apps 2013. The Office Web Apps server can be used to render Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint file types. Other than this the Office Web Apps server is used by Exchange Server 2013 to provide the Web Ready Document Viewing, something that was made available by Exchange Server 2010 natively (although a non-Microsoft engine was used to achieve this).

Installing Office Web Apps 2013

Office Web Apps 2013 can be installed on Windows Server 2012 or on Windows Server 2008 R2, but I prefer the first (due to support lifecycle). If you plan to use the latter make sure that you install the .NET Framework 4.5 and Powershell 3.0, these are installed by default on Windows Server 2012.

To install the remaining prerequisite software open a Powershell window and execute the following commands:

Import-Module ServerManager

Install-WindowsFeature Web-Server,Web-Mgmt-Tools,Web-Mgmt-Console,Web-WebServer,Web-Common-Http,Web-Default-Doc,Web-Static-Content,Web-Performance,Web-Stat-Compression,Web-Dyn-Compression,Web-Security,Web-Filtering,Web-Windows-Auth,Web-App-Dev,Web-Net-Ext45,Web-Asp-Net45,Web-ISAPI-Ext,Web-ISAPI-Filter,Web-Includes,InkandHandwritingServices

Reboot the server when done.

Web clients use SSL to securely communicatie with the Office Web Apps server so a (3rd party) certificate needs to be used. To request an SSL certificate, logon the the Office Web Apps server and open the IIS Manager. Select the server and in the results pane (i.e. middle pane) double click Server Certificates. In the Actions Pane select Create Certificate Request to create a new request (.req) file.

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Once the certificate is returned from the Certification Authority select Complete Pending Request to import the .CER file. When performing this step there’s the option to enter a Friendly Name, something that’s used later on in the process.

Installing Office Web Apps 2013 is pretty straightforward. Start the setup application, accept the license agreement and follow the wizard. The only selection you can make is to select the directory where the binaries will be installed:

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After one or two minutes the installation is finished and you’re ready to deploy the Office Web Apps Farm. There’s no GUI to do this so all management needs to be performed from a Powershell command J

To create a new Office Web Apps farm open a Powershell window and enter the following command:

New-OfficeWebAppsFarm –InternalUrl <url> –ExternalUrl <url> –CertificateName <name>

Please note that the SSL certificate is actually identified by its Friendly Name. In my lab environment the actual command would be:

New-OfficeWebAppsFram –InternalUrl https://webapps.exchangelabs.nl –Externalurl https://webapps.exchangelabs.nl –CertificateName WebApps

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My Office Web Apps 2013 server has a direct Internet connection with a dedicated public IP address so I don’t have to worry about publishing. Maybe I will write something in the (near) future about publishing using a load balancer or using TMG2010.

To test the Office Web Apps 2013 server the following URL can be used:

https://publicURL/hosting/discovery

You should see something similar like this:

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Your browser will use this URL to discover the Office Web Apps configuration.

The last step is to configure Exchange Server 2013 to use the new Office Web Apps server. This is configured on an organization level and on the OWA Virtual Directory level.

To configure Office Web Apps on an organization level open the Exchange Management Shell and enter the following command:

Set-OrganizationConfig –WACDiscoveryEndpoint <PublicUrl>/hosting/discovery

So in my lab environment this would be:

Set-OrganizationConfig –WACDiscoveryEndpoint https://webapps.exchangelabs.nl/hosting/discovery

Note: WAC is an abbreviation for Web Access Companion.

To configure the OWA Virtual Directories to enable the Office Web Apps functionality

Get-OWAVirtualDirectory | Set-OWAVirtualDirectory -WacViewingOnPublicComputersEnabled $true -WacViewingOnPrivateComputersEnabled $true

If you want to force users to the Office Web Apps you can use the -ForceWacViewingFirstOnPublicComputers and -ForceWacViewingFirstOnPrivateComputers options:

Get-OWAVirtualDirectory | Set-OWAVirtualDirectory -WacViewingOnPublicComputersEnabled $true -ForceWacViewingFirstOnPublicComputers $true -WacViewingOnPrivateComputersEnabled $true -ForceWacViewingFirstOnPrivateComputers $true

To check if the configuration change were applied successfully you can enter the following commands:

Get-OrganizationConfig | select WACDiscoveryEndPoint

Get-OWAVirtualDirectory | Select Server,*WAC*

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Now use your browser and open your Mailbox using OWA. Select a message that has an attachment and open it using the preview option. You’ll see that Office Web Apps is used to open the attachment and that you have more functions available than a normal preview option:

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To get more information regarding Office Web Apps server including load balancing specific information please check the following TechNet article:

Plan Office Web Apps Server – http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj219435.aspx

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