Overview

SharePoint is majorly known for document collaboration. End users manages documents in SharePoint. Viewing and editing the documents in a browser experience is more preferred option rather than downloading a copy of document and working on it.

SharePoint Online offers inline editing functionality out of the box way. However when it comes to the SharePoint On-Premises environment, we had to install Office WebApps in the past (SharePoint 2013 days) for this purpose. Later in SharePoint 2016, Office Online Server was introduced. OOS is the successor to Office Web Apps Server 2013. SharePoint 2019 continues to use Office Online Server.

Introduction to Office Online Server

Office Online Server (OOS) is next version / successor of Office Web Apps. It allows users to read and edit the Microsoft Office documents in the browser. SharePoint 2016 and 2019’s Durable Links feature (a separate topic of discussion) requires Office Online Server (OOS) as pre-requisite.

Office Online Server (OOS) needs to be installed on a separate server. It cannot be installed on the same server where SharePoint 2019 is installed.

Download and Install Office Online Server

Microsoft has released Office Online Server for MSDN Subscribers. Earlier it was only available for volume licensing customers.

As mentioned earlier, setup a separate server for installing Office Online Server. It could be a Windows Server 2012 R2. Download the Office Online Server binaries to the server from your MSDN subscription.

If you double click to install it, you may get an error message as below:

As per the error message, we will have to enable the Web-Server role on the server in order to install the Office Online Server.

Option 1: Server Manager Graphical Interface

You may use server manager graphical interface to install this feature.

1. Launch Server Manager.

2. Click Manage > Add Roles and Features.

3. Click Next to continue.

4. In the installation type, select “Role-based or feature-based installation”. Click Next.

5. Select the local server, where you want to install the Office Online Server. Click Next.

6. In the Server Roles, select Web Server (IIS). Click Next.

7. Review and click "Add Features" to proceed.

8. In the Features, select "Ink and Handwriting Services". Click Next.

9. In the Web Server Role (IIS), click Next.

10. In the Select role services screen, keep the default options selected and click Next

11. In the Confirm installation selections, click Install.

12. Once the installation finishes, close the window.

Option 2: PowerShell Cmdlet

Open Windows PowerShell with administrative privileges. Run below command:

Install-WindowsFeature -Name Web-Server,InkAndHandWritingServices –IncludeAllSubFeature

Install Office Online Server

Once the required windows feature is installed, try installing the Office Online Server again by double clicking the binaries downloaded from MSDN subscribers download. Confusingly, the installation title says Microsoft Office Online Server 2013, but it is for SharePoint 2016 / 2019. Office Online Server was never released for SharePoint 2013.

1. Click "I accept the terms of this agreement" and click Continue.

2. Use the default installation path, unless you want to change it. Click Install Now.

4. Wait for the installation to finish.

5. Once finished installing, click Close.

Setup Office Online Farm

Use below PowerShell to install the module needed to setup the Office Online farm.

Import-Module OfficeWebApps

For HTTPS:

New-OfficeWebAppsFarm -InternalUrl "HTTPS Url" -ExternalUrl "HTTPS Url" -SSLOffloaded –EditingEnabled

Note: Do not use SSLOffloaded in Production environment if you prefer SSL communication.

For HTTP:

New-OfficeWebAppsFarm -InternalURL http://servername -AllowHttp -EditingEnabled

Verify the Office Online Server working

To test the setup, try accessing below url from any browser.

http://<server name>/hosting/discovery

If everything is ok, browser will display XML like below:

Connecting to SharePoint 2019 Farm

We now have to link the Office Online Server to SharePoint 2019 Farm by using below PowerShell command:

New-SPWOPIBinding -ServerName <servername> -AllowHTTP

We are now all set to experience the browser experience for Office documents.

Summary

Office Online Server enables inline viewing and editing experience to SharePoint on-premises users. OOS is the successor to Office Web Apps Server 2013. It needs to be installed on a separate server.