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Office Web Applications Installation Issues–Be VERY Careful

I’ve recently had a few issues with Office Web Applications (the other OWA). I’m of course referring to the versions that run on SharePoint. In all cases, the typical installation routine is to lay down the SharePoint code (either Server or Foundation), configure the farm with the Products configuration wizard, then install the Web Apps and run through the Wizard again. There are variations on this, and you can use Powershell instead, but in all cases, you need to run through the configuration wizard after you lay down the Office Web Apps code.

The problem arises when you start uninstalling stuff.

In the first case, I was working with an Enterprise farm, and I needed to uninstall the SharePoint bits completely, so I would then remove the server from the farm, uninstall the bits, and then re-join it. So I went ahead and did that,but hit a rather nasty error when I tried to reinstall the SharePoint bits – “The install in progress conflicts with a previous installed MS Office 2010 Server Product.”. It turns out that it was the Office Web Apps Installation that I hadn’t removed first.

No problem,right? I’ll just uninstall the Web apps and all will be good. Unfortunately, no. I went to Control Panel, Selected the Office Web Apps, selected Uninstall and got an error stating that Office Web Apps had already been uninstalled, and would I like to remove it from the list. Not cool. I eventually had to resort to hacking through the registry and removing references to the apps (it was a dev farm so no problem). The second time I did this (yes I know, fool me once shame on you….) I wound up having to re-stage the whole server.

So then logically, you should really make sure that if you’re going to uninstall the SharePoint bits, you need to be very careful that you remove the Office Web Apps beforehand (and run the Product Wizard).

This brings me to my next scenario. I was recently working for a client that had SharePoint Foundation installed, and wanted to search PDFs. It turns out that this isn’t possible with Foundation (it was in WSS with a registry setting), but you now need to install Search Server Express. No problem, it’s free, and it’s a better solution anyway. I downloaded it, and installed it, and guess what error I got? “The install in progress conflicts with a previous installed MS Office 2010 Server Product.”. Well, I’ve seen that one before. It didn’t take me long to figure out that Search Server Express doesn’t like installing on top of Office Web Applications.

This time, all I needed to do was to uninstall Office Web Apps. No problem, I uninstalled it from control panel and all looked good. I then ran the Products Wizard to make sure everything was going to be put back properly, and the first thing that it asked me was whether I wanted to create a new farm, or join an existing farm. Excuse Me?????

So here’s the other big thing to note. If you uninstall Office Web Apps, it will remove the server from the farm. It might have been nice to know that ahead of time. Luckily, it was a complete install, and I had all of the necessary credentials handy including the farm passphrase.

In case you’re wondering, yes, Office Web Apps went back on top of Search Server Express just fine.

So just to recap:

1. Never, ever, uninstall a SharePoint 2010 product is the Office Web Applications are installed

2. You can’t install Search Server Express on a server with Office Web Applications already installed (they can be installed after)

3. Removing the Office Web Applications removes the server from the SharePoint farm.


  1. MSS MSS

    Hi John,

    Thank you for your help in configuring outbound messages.

    With regards to OWA, I am having problems activating OWA services. This is what I am doing: (All of the below tasks are performed using our self written powershell script, except for installing OWA)
    1) Install SharePoint Server
    2) Confirguring New Sharepoint farm
    3) Install Office Web Apps
    4) Again Configure farm using below script
    psconfig.exe -cmd upgrade -inplace b2b -force -wait

    The result of the above script shows “successfull configuration setting”, but when I goto Manage Service Applications page I dont any of the OWA services (Word Viewing, PowerPoint)

    Is there anything I am doing wrong or missed anything?

    Thanks in advance


  2. The only difference that I can see is that you””re running psconfig from the command line, where I typically do it from the GUI (I””ll usually use Powershell to set up the databases and run the GUI afterwards)

    Another step that you””re missing is setting up the Service applications. These can be done through Powershell, or with the Farm Configuration wizard. Have you done that?

    Good luck

  3. Sam Sam


    I have two questions you maybe able to help with. Firstly I installed Office Web Apps on two servers and one of the servers initially complained that product wasn’t installed. After I ran a command in PowerShell that was solved but once the configuration wizard was finished the services are not available to start in the Central Administration.

    Second question is what happens when you remove a server from the farm?

    I have the pass phrase for the farm I’m working with and think I can get hold of the other credentials if necessary I’m just thinking the only way I may get the OWA to to work is to re install them…

    I have a thread on TechNet here:

    Massive Thanks

  4. @Sam – First question – you need to create the service applications in Central Admin first. Secondl – when you remove a server from the farm, all of the Applications pools and applications are removed from IIS, and the server is deregistered as a farm server. It’s easy enough to add back in, you’ll just need to know the passphrase. I will check out your thread.

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