Installing SharePoint 2013 Office Web Applications Server

I say OWA, you say OWA, they say OWA!

Sounds great, but what am I talking about when I say OWA? No, not Exchange OWA. I’m talking about SharePoint Office Web Applications (OWA). The Microsoft SharePoint Product/Marketing team should have thought about renaming this great product. I’ve already had more than one confusing conversation with the local Exchange guy who doesn’t sit to far from my desk.

This is a great piece of SharePoint software that extends SharePoint functionality. I believe this add-on puts SharePoint head-and-shoulders above it’s competitors. In practical terms you can see it in action for free in a production implementation today when you use SkyDrive. SharePoint OWA lets you bring this great technology to your own private SharePoint farm.

Microsoft has already started to develop in-depth guides to OWA on their MSDN site for Office Web Apps Preview. I urge you to review Microsoft’s documents, even if you are familiar with SharePoint 2010 OWA. The product has evolved enough to warrant deep scrutiny and planning. Make sure to note, as with the MSDN article, this blog post is also a time sensitive posting. I’m writing this while SharePoint 2013, and OWA, are in BETA. They are subject to change. In addition this installation requires some knowledge of PowerShell functionality.

Now that the introduction, and warnings, have been set lets get out hands dirty. Lets start with the OWA prerequisites. As with the previous version of OWA 2010 the new OWA has a much more specific, and heavier requirement base. When do the hardware requirements ever get lighter? Remember when the 486 was the top of the line?

These requirements are as follows:

  • You can not install the following software on the OWA server: Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, SQL, or any version of the desktop Office programs.
  • No extra web services that use port 80, 443, and 809.
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 or Server 2012

The following outlines what is needed on the server to install OWA successfully.
Source: MSDN-Table1

Download, Server Role, or Feature Windows Server 2008 R2 Windows Server 2012
Download: Office Web Apps Server Preview Microsoft Download Center Microsoft Download Center
Download: .NET Framework 4.5 RC .NET Framework 4.5 RC Already installed
Download: KB2592525 KB2592525 Already installed
Download: Windows PowerShell 3.0 Windows PowerShell 3.0 Already installed
Server role: Web Server (IIS) The following list describes the minimum role services that are required for the Web Server (IIS) server role. Common HTTP Features

  • Static Content
  • Default Document

Application Development

  • ASP.NET
  • .NET Extensibility
  • ISAPI Extensions
  • ISAPI Filters
  • Server Side Includes

Security

  • Windows Authentication
  • Request Filtering

Management Tools

  • IIS Management Console

The following options are recommended but not required:

Performance

  • Static Content Compression
  • Dynamic Content Compression
The following list describes the minimum role services that are required for the Web Server (IIS) server role. Management Tools

  • IIS Management Console

Web Server

  • Common HTTP Features
  • Default Document
  • Static Content

Security

  • Request Filtering
  • Windows Authentication

Application Development

  • .NET Extensibility 4.5
  • ASP.NET 4.5
  • ISAPI Extensions
  • ISAPI Filters
  • Server Side Includes

The following services are recommended but not required:

Performance

  • Static Content Compression
  • Dynamic Content Compression
Feature: Ink and Handwriting Services Ink and Handwriting Services

  • Ink Support
Ink and Handwriting ServicesnoteNote: You don’t have to install Ink Support. You can just install Ink and Handwriting Services

I’ll be working on the Windows 2008 R2 platform for my OWA install. As I’ve noted before unlike previous versions of OWA, this OWA must be installed on to a server free of any SharePoint software. Later on we will bind the OWA, and SharePoint, implementations together so we can leverage the greatness that is OWA. I’ve logged into the server with my standard sp_install domain account that has been added as a local server administrator. I will forgo showing the download and installation of .NET Framework 4.5 RC, KB2592525, and Windows PowerShell 3.0. I assume you will not need a guide for the prerequisite installs. As a best practice I reboot the server after each install.

After the prerequisite installs are complete let us focus on setting up the Server role: Web Server (IIS) configuration that is outlined in the above table. Depending on how you installed your initial Windows 2008 R2 server some of the components may be already be enabled, or some may be missing. Make sure to check each requirement, and don’t assume it has already been configured. Open the Windows Server Manager, and navigate to Role, and then Web Server (IIS). Once you are in the appropriate section scroll down the Role Services. Each section in the roles is outlined similarly to the above table. If you are missing roles you can add them via the Add Role Services button in the Server Manager.

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To add, or verify, the performance recommendation you will need to open the Internet  Information Services (IIS) Manager. Select the server at the top site, navigate to Compression, and verify the feature are enabled.

image

To add the Feature: Ink and Handwriting Feature you will need to open Server manager navigate to Features, and Add Features. I’ve included the screen you should be seeing when adding this feature. Reboot the server once again to ensure you have a clear, and ready platform to move on to the next step.

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Now that the reboot is completed, and the prerequisites are in place, lets move on to the main event. When you download the OWA install file you will see it download in an .IMG file format. While Microsoft intended this to be burned to a physical media that might not be possible when your servers are either virtual, or hundreds of miles away. To resolve this I download, and installed, a great piece of free software called 7-Zip. Once the 7-Zip is installed you can open the context menu of the downloaded OWA file WebAppsServer_en-us_x64.img, and extract the contents into a folder. In the extracted folder run setup.exe. Accept the teams of agreement, and select Continue. Select the file location for the installation. and select Install Now. The installer will run, and select Close to finish this step.

Now that the files have been installed we can start, and use PowerShell, to get the OWA setup, and running. First, lets open Windows PowerShell command windows. By default the OWA specific cmdlts are not loaded. Run the follow commands

Import-Module OfficeWebApps

Get-Command “*Office*”

The first command imports the OWA cmdlts, and the second verifies they are available for your use.

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Now, we can create the actual OWA server farm

New-OfficeWebAppsFarm –InternalURL http://servername –AllowHttp -EditingEnabled

Breaking down the New-OfficeWebAppsFarm  parameters as follows

  • -InternalURL : Use the FQDN of the server to run OWA
  • -AllowHttp : By default OWA wants to run using Https. Here we are allowing Http for testing purposes
  • -EditingEnabled : Allows documents to be edit using OWA

To verify if the OWA farm was build correctly, run the following command in your server’s Internet Explorer browser.

http://servernameFQDN/hosting/discovery

It should return a XML file that look something like this.

image

Now lets go, and tell SharePoint 2013 there is a nice new shiny OWA service farm ready for use. Log into the SharePoint 2013 WFE server, and run the following PowerShell command.

New-SPWOPIBinding -ServerName <WacServerName> -AllowHTTP

the –ServerName is the FQDN of the OWA farm server you just created. It should be the same as the –InternalURL you used earlier. Don’t use ‘Http://’ in the server name parameter, just the FQDN of the server.

By default OWA server farm wants to use Https. Here we will force it to recognize Http with the following PowerShell OWA command.

Set-SPWopiZone –zone “internal-http”

Now, lets try the service out in  SharePoint 2013 site collection.

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The OWA service farm works like a champ. Here I am editing the DOCX file for a speaking engagement.

A few parting thoughts on OWA. OWA is a beast! It is designed to run in a self contained farm giving it magical ability to not only SharePoint 2013, but Lync as well. I’m assuming that will eventually extend to Exchange. Do not install this on a Active Directory Domain Controller. Make sure your OWA server has the proper CPU/Memory resources to display and edit the office files. Once the install is complete there will be no indications of the OWA role on the server in the START menu. Keep that in mind if someone logs into the server and thinks there is nothing installed, and running.

–Javi

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