New to SharePoint 2010 is one of the most exciting bits of software that I’ve seen since Clippy, the Office Web Applications (OWAs). In case you haven’t heard of them, the OWAs are in browser versions of Word, Excel PowerPoint and OneNote. It gives you the ability to open any of those files inside of your browser without the programs actually installed on your computer. You can also use them on platforms where Office isn’t available, like Linux. They’re available at Docs.com, Windows Live as well as Office365, but the best part of all is that the OWAs can be installed in SharePoint. In YOUR SharePoint farm. I know, pretty exciting.
Unfortunately the licensing and downloading of the OWAs is nearly as confusing as explaining the difference between a site collection and a web to your cat. There are good documents covering planning and deployment, but information how to download them is scant. Luckily for you, dear reader, not only have I cracked the code OWA download code, but I talked one of my customers into letting me take screenshots while we did it. I promised I wouldn’t mention their name. But thanks for the screenshots.
The OWAs are not licensed with SharePoint, nor can you buy licenses for it separately. It is only licensed with Office 2010 Pro Plus with volume licensing. That’s why the downloading of the software and licensing is not intuitive, it’s technically part of the Office client. To download the OWAs and their license key, start by browsing to the volume licensing site at https://www.microsoft.com/licensing. You’ll need to log in with your volume licensing account. Once you’re in there, click “Downloads and Keys” from the top menu.
Then filter on Office products, find the Office 2010 Professional Pro product and click Download.
Then choose “Web Browser” and verify the operating system type is set to “32 bit.”
Here’s where it gets hysterical. I hope you’re sitting down. We picked the 32 bit type, right? And SharePoint 2010 is only 64 bit, right? Yup, you have to pick the 32 bit architecture to get the 64 bit download. Once you navigate that little bit of ridiculousness, click the button to download the ISO. If you don’t see the OWA link, it probably means you aren’t licensed for it.
To install the software you’ll need a key. Click the Key link to get the installation key.
Like any good software these days, there’s a few patches available for the OWAs. Go to my SharePoint 2010 Builds page to see what the latest patch is. Then you can slipstream the patch into the OWA install directory.
Now your users will be confounded and amazed when they can edit Office documents right in the browser. Expect to spend some time being hoisted around on their shoulders in appreciation.