Overview of Exchange 2007 Outlook Web Access WebReady Document Viewing


One of the biggest feature requests we had in Exchange 2003 OWA was a way to let users view attachments without having to save them to disk or open them in a locally-installed application.  In Exchange 2007 OWA, we are introducing WebReady Document Viewing, which lets users do just that.  WebReady Document Viewing allows users to view certain attachments as a web page.  Exchange 2007 does the conversion, so the user doesn’t need anything other than a web browser.  Currently, we support Word (.doc), Excel (.xls), PowerPoint (.ppt), and PDF (.pdf) documents.  This is a big win for corporations and users.  Corporations don’t need to worry about their IP being left in caches on public machines, like airport kiosks.  Users don’t need to download the attachment and then fire up an application to view it.  They can just click on the “View as Web Page” link and the WebReady Viewing version will open.

Of course, having a different way to get to attachments makes creating an attachments policy a little trickier.  I’ll explain how administration of attachments and Webready Document Viewing works in OWA2007 in this blog post.

The most important thing to understand is that WebReady Document Viewing is a method of accessing attachments.  This means that you need to decide how to grant access to attachments.  It is perfectly valid to prevent users from opening or saving attachments, but still allow them to see the WebReady version of the supported types.

The following screenshots show the OWA properties page (Server Configuration/Client Access/Outlook Web Access/owa (Default Web Site)) in the Exchange Management Console. I’ll explain each option along with the corresponding Exchange Management Shell properties.

  • DirectFileAccessOn{Public,Private}ComputersEnabled: enables/disables access to attachments via a locally (client-side) installed viewer (e.g., Word)

  • WebReadyDocumentViewingOn{Public,Private}ComputersEnabled: enables/disables WebReady Document Viewing

  • ForceWebReadyDocumentViewingOn{Public,Private}First: forces users to see the WebReady Document Viewing version of the attachment before being allowed to save it to disk or open it in a locally-installed application. 

Here’s how they work:

When OWA shows the user that there is an attachment with the message, it checks two sets of properties: the login mode (public or private) and the attachments and WebReady Document Viewing settings that apply to that login method.  DirectFileAccessOn{Public,Private}ComputersEnabled and WebReadyDocumentViewingOn{Public,Private}Computers are independent properties. Also note that users can only select public vs. private logons if using forms-based authentication. If using any other type of authentication, the logon mode is always private.

If DirectFileAccess is enabled for the current login method, the attachment will be available for downloading and viewing in an application running on the user’s computer.  If it is disabled, the attachment cannot be downloaded or saved.

If WebReadyDocumentViewingOn is enabled for the current login method and the attachment is one of the supported types (Word 2003, Excel 2003, PowerPoint 2003, or PDF), OWA displays an “Open as Web Page” link next to it.

If ForceWebReadyDocumentViewingOn{Public,Private}First is enabled, the user’s only option from the OWA message view will be to view the WebReady version. 

If DirectFileAccess is enabled, the WebReady Viewing page will give the user the option of saving or opening the attachment in a local application.  Otherwise, the user will only be able to view the attachment as a web page.

In next post, I will go over how to customize the settings for attachments.

Rahul Dhar

Comments (15)
  1. Kerem Çeliker says:

    Thanks for this article.which is very helpful

    Regards,

  2. Anonymous says:

    Disk Performance Testing with Jetstress 2007 Installing Exchange 2007 into a Small Business Server 2003

  3. Is it possible to extend the functionality to additional filetypes? Via IFilter? Thx! Christian

  4. Rahul Dhar says:

    Christian, yes, and it will be explained in a blog entry that should be posted in the near future.

  5. Thanks for your respone! I appreciate that! Christian

  6. Sheetal says:

    Is this techique completely temper proof.  If I don’t have SSL, It still going to put the HTML in IE temp folder, which somone can copy it just like native format document

  7. Anonymous says:

    Exchange 2007 Outlook Web Access includes a functionality called WebReady document viewing that functions much the same as the HTML Preview functionality in Citrix’s Advanced Access Control.  Cur …

  8. Anonymous says:

    In this blog post, which is a continuation of previous post on the subject of WebReady document viewing,…

  9. mamood says:

    This is a really cool feature!

    Is it possible to use the WebReady functionality from the object model (e.g. from PowerShell) to process user documents not stored in Exchange? For example, is it possible to make a Word Document in My Documents, WebReady ?

  10. Rahul Dhar says:

    Sheetal, if you’re not using SSL, I believe the HTML files will be cached on the client.  You shouldn’t be using OWA without SSL, though.

    mamood, I’m glad you like it.  Currently, there’s no way to use this feature outside of OWA.  I think SharePoint uses the same technology as Exchange.  This may be another option.  Otherwise, you will need to license this technology separately.

  11. Tim says:

    when are other file types going to be supported in OWA like .WPD

  12. MRS says:

    what other possible security risks are associated with allowing these features?

    has anyone done a review/study and provide links or results?

    thanks

  13. MikeEd says:

    What about giving some useful functions, Rules and Alerts which are now lost. 600 users jumping up and down because they can’t write a rule in OWA. No mew message popups. Looks like I’m gonna have to roll back to 2003.

  14. Exchange says:

    MikeEd,

    Please check out the following:

    http://msexchangeteam.com/archive/2007/02/23/435699.aspx

  15. Tze-Nan says:

    How can I add in (e.g .vsd extension) into the supported group?

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