owa

All posts tagged owa

Using OWA and Internet Explorer 11

Now Windows 8.1 RTM is available via Technet and MSDN it is installed by several ITpro’s. And then it is just a matter of time befor someone finds  an issue. This because the code of Exchange doesnt recognize Internet Explorer 11 correctly and this will result in OWA to be displayed in light mode. As you may know OWA light doesn’t connect all the options which are available in the full blown OWA. Microsoft will probably fix this in a future update so you can use Internet Explorer 11 in full blown mode. This is confirmed by something I discovered when using Office 365. It looks like my tenant is already upgraded because Interne Explorer 11 works OK for me. The on-premise environments will need to wait till Microsoft releases an update which contains the correct code to recognize Internet Explorer 11.

Offfice Web Apps 2013 integration with Exchange 2013

In this blog we will have a look at the integration of Exchange 2013 with Office Web Apps What are the advantages of this change and we will have a look if there also are some disadvantages.

Starting from Exchange 2007 you needed to install the Office Converter Pack to use the preview, also known as Web Ready view, functionality in Outlook Web Access/App. This gave users the ability to read the content from for example Word files without actually opening Word. So if you had a machine which hadn’t had Word installed you were still able to view the file. This functionality is offered by using the IFilter functionality. Besides the Office Converter Pack some 3rd parties also published their own IFilter packages, for example Adobe.  Keep in mind that IFilters are not only used for the preview functionality but by Exchange Search for content indexing.

Starting from Exchange 2013 you still have the ability to use IFilters for the preview functionality. But there is another method. You can offer some extra functionality to users by integrating Exchange 2013 with Office Web Apps. This software has to be installed on a separate server. The Office Web Apps server can be used to edit Excel, PowerPoint and Word files. If you want to open/edit RMS files then I must disappoint you. RMS files can’t be opened using the Office Web Apps server.

The Office Web Apps server can be deployed in many scenarios.

In the table below you will see the deployment types and there specific requirements

Deployment Requirements
Only internal
  • Internal FQDN
  • Certificate*
  • Both internal and external
  • Internal and external FQDN
  • Certificate
  • External IP
  • Reverse proxy for publishing the OWA server(s)
Single
  • No special requirements besides the internal/external requirements
Pool
  • Multiple servers
  • Hardware Load Balancer

*recommended in production environments and required when Lync also uses the server

So what is the advantage of making this integration? Well the Office Web Apps Server will give users the ability to also edit files via a web browser. Since BYOD is a hot concept at the moment this will not require you to have the Office suite installed on your machine or tablet. Personally I think it is a big advantage for the last type. This because there is still no Office version available for the tablets.

Installing the Office Web Apps server is pretty easy:

  • Install the prerequisites
  • Install the Office Web App server software
  • Configure the Office Wep App server

The prerequisites can be divided in two parts:

  • Windows components
  • Other prerequisits

The Windows components can be installed by using the servermanager module for Powershell:

Import-Module ServerManager

Add-WindowsFeature Web-Server,Web-WebServer,Web-Common-Http,Web-Static-Content,Web-App-Dev,Web-Asp-Net,Web-Net-Ext,Web-ISAPI-Ext,Web-ISAPI-Filter,Web-Includes,Web-Security,Web-Windows-Auth,Web-Filtering,Web-Stat-Compression,Web-Dyn-Compression,Web-Mgmt-Console,Ink-Handwriting,IH-Ink-Support

After the components have been installed you will need to reboot your machine to finish the installation. Once the machine is rebooted download and install the following prerequisites:

After installing the three items above you will need to reboot the server again. Once the reboot has completed it’s time to install the Office Web Apps server software. Since this is just a case of next – next finish I won’t go in to detail for this step.

Once the setup has completed it’s time to configure the Office Web Apps server. To do this we will need to use Powershell.

New-OfficeWebAppsFarm  “https://owa.domain.com” –CertificateName “Office Web Apps”

In this scenario we have configured Office Web Apps to be available only via HTTPS and both the internal and external url are set to https://owa.domain.com

Now we have finished the Office Web App server side let’s have a look what has to be configured for Exchange 2013.

The configuration on the Exchange 2013 side is quite simple. Just open the Exchange Management Shell (EMS) and run the following cmdlet:

Set-OrganizationConfig -WACDiscoveryEndPoint https://owa.domain.com/hosting/discovery

In this case we will set our Office Web Apps connection point to https://owa.domain.com/hosting/discovery. When a user now uses the preview functionality Exchange will send a call to the Office Web Apps Server which will open the file.

To make this function work both on the local network as on the internet you will need to make sure it is accessible via both ways. The local network shouldn’t be a big problem so let’s continue with the internet side.

To offer the functionality on the internet we will need to publish our Office Web Apps Server to the internet. The recommend scenario is to put it behind a reverse proxy, for example TMG. Documentation on how to configure your TMG to publish Office Web Apps can be found here.

But what if you only want to allow this usage on private computers and not public computers? First of all keep in mind that the user is the one who is responsible for choosing the correct option when logging in via OWA.

But how to allow the use of the Office Web Apps Server only from private computers?

Set-OwaVirtualDirectory “EX01\owa (Default Web Site)” -WacViewingOnPrivateComputersEnabled $true  -WacViewingOnPublicComputersEnabled $false

The parameter –WacViewingOnPrivateComputersEnabled will enable the use of Office Web Apps from private computers. The second parameter WacViewingOnPublicComputersEnabled will disable the feature for public computers.

Advantages Disadvantages
Gives users the ability to edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files Software needs to be installed on separate machine
No additional software is needed on the clients Must be available from the internet if you want to offer the same services as on your local network. (for Lync 2013 this is required)
Can also be used by SharePoint 2013 and Lync 2013 so the server is not only used by Exchange 2013. More than one server required in an HA environment

Automate OWA IM Integration configuration – update 2

It’s time for another update for the prepare_owa_im script, this update is pretty big compared to the earlier update. Starting with this version it’s possible to configure both OWA and Lync using the script. There is one limitation: it’s not possible to enable the new topology.

The cause of this limitation is that this is not allowed when remotely connected to the Lync Front End Server. The remote connection will allow almost everything except running the enable-CsTopology cmdlet. This cmdlet is required to enable the new topology.

So don’t forget to execute the enable-CsTopology cmdlet manually when you ran the script.

At this moment the script will need to be execute on every CAS server which needs the IM integration. In a future update this will change.

If you have any feature requests please let me know so I can add them to a future release of the script.

Caution: this script may need to change the ExecutionPolicy settings temporary

prepare_owa_im script versie 1.2 download

Automate OWA IM Integration configuration – update

One of the options which was missing in the first edition of the script was to check if a certificate is self-signed or not. By default a self-signed certificate is installed on an Exchange CAS Server. The problem with this kind of certificates is that other servers won’t trust it.

If this is the case there are two options:

  • import the self-signed certificate on the other servers, in this case the Lync Front End;
  • install a valid certificate;

The first option is not  really the way you want to solve it but sometimes you don’t have another option.

Below the changes which have been made in the script:

  • check if a self-signed certificate is installed;
  • option to export the self-signed certificate;

If you got any tips or suggestions please leave a comment.

download prepare_owa_im.ps1 v1.1

Automate OWA IM Integration configuration

Since the release of Exchange 2010 Service Pack 1 the steps for configuring OCS/Lync IM integration for OWA has changed.

To simplify this proces I created a script which performs the following tasks:

  • check if the correct software and patches are installed;
  • configure the OWA virtual directory;
  • restart IIS;

The script will need to be executed from the CAS server and does only work for Exchange 2010 SP1. Besides the Exchange part don’t forget to configure the OCS/Lync side.

download prepare_owa_im.ps1 v1.0

OWA displays blank screen

During a troubleshooting sessions at one of our customers I had an issue which can be found on several forums now a days, OWA will only display a blank screen instead of the logon page. But what is the cause of this issue? Well there are several reasons which can cause it:

  • not all required Windows Components are installed
  • changes have been made in the configuration using IIS

Required Windows Components are missing

The first reason is quite strange as you would expect that the installation of Exchange will check if all required components are in place before starting the installation.

When you forget, for example, the static content item of IIS this may cause the blank screen of OWA. To make it a bit easier you can use the script below to install all required Windows Components on a Windows 2008 server which will become a CAS server:

ServerManagerCmd -i Powershell
ServerManagerCmd -i Web-Server
ServerManagerCmd -i Web-ISAPI-Ext
ServerManagerCmd -i Web-Metabase
ServerManagerCmd -i Web-Lgcy-Mgmt-Console
ServerManagerCmd -i Web-Basic-Auth
ServerManagerCmd -i Web-Digest-Auth
ServerManagerCmd -i Web-Windows-Auth
ServerManagerCmd -i Web-Dyn-Compression

If your planning to use Outlook Anywhere don’t forget to install the RPC over HTTP feature:

ServerManagerCmd -i RPC-over-HTTP-proxy

If all the above components are installed you can start installing Exchange 2007.

OWA virtual directory configuration is corrupted

Making configuration changes using IIS may cause you OWA configuration to be corrupted. So don’t use OWA to make changes but use the Exchange Managment Shell or Exchange Management Console to make configuration changes.

But if you made changes using IIS and OWA does not work anymore how can it be solved? Well there is only one solution, remove the OWA virtual directory and recreate it. This can be done by using the remove-owavirtualdirectory and new-owavirtualdirectory cmdlets.

First step is to remove the old OWA directory:

remove-owavirtualdirectory “owa (Default Web Site)”

This will remove the virtual directory as you can see in the screenshot below:

Once the directory is removed we can create a new one by using the cmdlet below:

new-owavirtualdirectory -OwaVersion “Exchange2007″ -Name “owa (Default Web Site)”

This will recreate the OWA virtual directory and if your lucky OWA will work again. This were just 2 options which might cause this issue. If you got the same issue but the above steps didn’t work contact me so I can add them to this article johan (a) johanveldhuis.nl

Open another users calender via OWA

Opening a calender from another user using OWA is not a very hard proces, when you have enough permissions you can easily open the other users calender. But what if you would like to do this via OWA?  This depends on the Exchange version you are using, let’s start with Exchange 2003:

http://ex01.company.om/exchange/johan/calender

In Exchange 2003 you can do this by specifying the url which is used to open but add the following part to the url username/calender. In this case we will open the calender of johan.

For both Exchange 2007 and 2010 you will need to use another method. This is because both the OWA from 2007 and 2010 are using web-parts to build the OWA. In Exchange 2007 and 2010 you will have the option to open another users mailbox followed by the calender, backside from using this is that you will need full mailbox access, this is not what you want in all scenario’s. To open a calender directly use the following syntax:

https://owa.company.com/owa/johan@domain.com/?cmd=contents&module=calendar

Almost the same as 2003 only the last part has changed to username@domain.com/?cmd=contents&module=calender. Besides this way there are a few other options which you can use in Exchange 2007 and 2010 to display the calendar, below an overview:

https://owa.domain.com/owa/johan@domain.com/?cmd=contents&f=calendar&view=dialy

or

https://owa.domain.com/owa/johan@domain.com/?cmd=contents&module=calendar&view=dialy

The above command will open the calender folder by using the f parameter which makes it possibly to open a specific folder in a mailbox.  As Michel mentioned in his comment you can also use the module parameter instead of the f parameter to perform the same action. Using the view parameter we will specify how we want to display the calender, when you don’t specify this it will be opened using the dialy view standard.The command above will do exactly the same, open the calender using the dialy view.

https://owa.domain.com/owa/johan@domain.com/?cmd=contents&f=calendar&view=weekly

This command will open the calender using the weekly view.

https://owa.domain.com/owa/johan@domain.com/?cmd=contents&f=calendar&view=monthly

And as last option this command will open the calender view using the monthly view. At least you may think this was the last one there is one other possibility:

https://owa.domain.com/owa/johan@domain.com/?cmd=content&f=calendar&view=daily&d=10&m=26&y=2010

This will open the calendar using the dialy view and will open it on the 26th of October 2010.