Introduction to Office Web Apps 2013
In this article we will concentrate on general introduction with Office Web Apps 2013 and key changes compared to previous versions. We will see how Office Web Apps 2013 has been improved from end user perspective to provide more enhanced functionalities cross multiple applications.
Office Web Apps
Office web Apps 2013 is providing online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. There are some additional office web apps which are commonly taken under same umbrella, like Visio, Outlook or Project - but those are not part of the Office Web Apps 2013 product, they are seperate solutions either part of SharePoint, Project Server or Exchange.
This video concentrates on functionalities provided by Office Web Apps 2013, which are Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OnetNote Web Apps. In 2010 there was already a released version of these solutions, but at the time they were direclty part of the SharePoint project.
Office Web Apps Delivery
Office Web Apps in SP2010 and other Wave 14 apps
Before having detailed look on what has been changed with Office Web Apps 2013, let's look back on how things were working back in 2010.
So – when users were viewing Office document using Web Apps, they were always accessing document using SharePoint, which was actually hosting this Web Apps infrastructure to view and render documents for browsers. Basically Web Apps were part of the SharePoint service application infrastructure and they were managed and operated directly from SharePoint central administration.
If users were using Outlook Web Access to view documents stored in Exchange, they were basically then using different tools and technology to view the documents which provided separate or alternative user experience.
Similarly if they were using Lync, we used again different technology for showing documents or when users were viewing PowerPoint presentations actually we required that you had at least PowerPoint 2007 client installed on your computer to be able to view or share the presentations with other persons.
Since also the Office Web Apps were directly part of the SharePoint deployment, it meant that in larger enterprises where they had numerous SharePoint farms, there was additional operational and management overhead for each of the farms to ensure that files could be accessed and viewed using browser. This basically caused additional operational costs.
Office Web Apps 2013
With 2013 release, Microsoft wanted to have consolidated and consistent user experience cross the different solutions, so that end users can take advantage of the same capabilities regardless of the solution they are using.
So what did they do with 2013 release is that they separated the Office Web Apps to it's own identity and connected SharePoint server to it. In addition you can now connect Lync to same Office Web Apps farm to provide same user experience for Lync users as for the SharePoint users.
As we can also connect your Exchange to Office Web Apps farm to provide similarly consistent user experience – or if you have multiple exchange instances, you can connect all of them to same Office Web Apps farm.
And similarly if you have multiple SharePoint farms, you can connect these farms to consume the services from same Office Web Apps farm, so you don't have to setup or operate multiple different platforms for providing the browser based access to your documents, you can rather use one Office Web Apps farm and connect to that from all of the solutions.
You can even open up files from any file share or web server, as long as you can access the files using URL – for example: this gives possibility to present presentations from your internal file shares directly on the SharePoint pages or actually on any platform, without making it necessary to upload the file to specific location.
And actually since Office Web Apps implementation is based on published and documented protocols, you can actually extend this any way you want – meaning that it's completely possible to provide additional viewer applications to present or render any other file types using similar approach.

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