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WebReady Document Viewing in Exchange 2007

Andrew Z. Tabona [BSc (Hons) Computing, MCSE, Network+, Security+ etc]

Andrew Z. Tabona [BSc (Hons) Computing, MCSE, Network+, Security+ etc] Photo

Andrew Z. Tabona, MBCS, MSc, BSc (Hons), ITILF v3, MCSE, Network+, Security+, etc, has over 10 years’ experience in Quality Assurance, Incident Management, and Pre- and Post-Sales Technical Support roles, as well as recent specialization in Digital Forensics and E-Discovery.

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WebReady Document Viewing answers the many calls to allow the viewing of common attachment types without installing an application locally! Today we look at how to setup WebReady Document Viewing in Exchange 2007.

WebReady Document Viewing is a new feature in Exchange 2007 OWA (Outlook Web Access) that allows users to view common file types without the need for having the corresponding application installed locally on their system. Users can view certain attachments as a web page rather than having to save them to disk or use a client side application to open them. Next to each supported attachment there would be an "Open as Web Page" link. On clicking the link, the document is converted to HTML and displayed in a separate browser window.

Open as Web Page

Figure 1 - Open the document as a Web Page

In this example, when I clicked on the "Open as Web Page" link next to the attached word document called PEAP.doc, it opened a new browser window, converted the document and displayed it as an HTML web page, as shown in figure 2.

Viewing a DOC file

Figure 2 - WebReady Document Viewing

Outlook Web Access removes any HTML documents from the cache when the user logs off or on session time out. This allows for safe keeping of documents since no local copy is retained on the client computer.

At the time of writing, the following types of files can be viewed using the WebReady Document Viewing feature:

  • .doc (Microsoft Word Documents)
  • .dot (Microsoft Word Templates)
  • .rtf (Rich Text Format)
  • .xls (Microsoft Excel Spreadsheets)
  • .ppt (Microsoft PowerPoint Presentations)
  • .pps (Microsoft PowerPoint Slide Shows)
  • .pdf (Adobe PDF Documents)

The associated MIME types for attachments that can be viewed are:

  • application/msword
  • application/pdf
  • application/vnd.ms-excel
  • application/vnd.ms-powerpoint
  • application/x-msexcel
  • application/x-mspowerpoint

Configuring WebReady Document Viewing

To configure WebReady Document Viewing, follow the guidelines below:

  1. Open the Exchange Management Console and navigate to Server Configuration | Client Access. Select which server you want to configure from the top of the details pane and then the Outlook Web Access tab from the bottom.

  2. Choose the Virtual Directory you want to configure WebReady Document Viewing on, and right-click | Properties (typically you would choose 'owa', which is the default virtual directory used for Outlook Web Access).

  3. Select the "Public Computer File Access" tab if you wish to configure WebReady Document Viewing for use with a public computer, or the "Private Computer File Access" tab to configure it for a private computer. The options in both these tabs are identical.

    NOTE: These tabs refer to the security level that the user chooses prior to logging in to OWA; either "Pubic or shared computer" or "Private computer".

Configuring WebReady Document Viewing

Figure 3 - Configuring WebReady Document Viewing

  1. The "Enable direct file access" option allows you to set whether users will be able to download and view the attachment in the corresponding application installed on their machine. With this option disabled, the attachment cannot be saved or downloaded, only viewed as an HTML web page (if you have WebReady Document Viewing enabled of course).

    You can customize the direct file access option to restrict certain attachments from being saved or downloaded, and allow others. Like this you could allow Word documents to be opened in Microsoft Word installed locally on the client machine, but restrict Excel Spreadsheets (and only allow them to be viewed using WebReady Document Viewing).

  2. Check the "Enable WebReady Document Viewing" check box to turn WebReady Document Viewing on.

  3. You can force the use of WebReady Document Viewing by enabling the "Force WebReady Document Viewing when a converter is available" check box. This will force the user to use WebReady Document Viewing when a supported file type is being viewed. This is great for when you want to stop users from downloading and saving confidential information on a public computer, but still allow them to view the information.

  4. Click the "Supported" button to bring up a dialog giving you the option to choose which file types you want to allow - you can let users view Word Documents but not PDF Documents for example. If you want to allow all file types to be viewed from the Internet browser select "All supported document types". Otherwise, enable "Specific document types" and choose which file types you want to allow. Any items in the list will be allowed, so select the one you want to disallow and click the remove button.

    You can do the same for the desired document MIME types at the bottom. If ever you wanted to add a file or MIME type back again, click "Add" and choose from the list of available types.

File Types

Figure 4 - Specifying supported document types

  1. Once you are ready, click OK on all open dialog boxes and close the Exchange Management Console.

You can also manage the WebReady Document Viewing configuration using the Exchange Management Shell. As an example, the following command will enable WebReady Document Viewing on Public computers but disable it on Private ones:

Set-OwaVirtualDirectory -Identity "owa (Default Web Site)"
-WebReadyDocumentViewingOnPublicComputersEnabled $true
-WebReadyDocumentViewingOnPrivateComputersEnabled $false

For more commands in relation to the WebReady Document Viewing feature, see the help documentation for the Exchange Management Shell.

Conclusion

WebReady Document Viewing is a great time saving feature and a good way of preventing users from opening or saving attachments but still allowing them to view the attached document as a web page.

References

Managing File and Data Access for Outlook Web Access

User Comments - Page 1 of 1

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GUL 1 Jul 2011 23:57
Thank u
thank you 19 Dec 2009 19:52
it really helps me a lot with some security issues.
ahs1988 19 Dec 2009 19:50
great job...
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