Comparing Excel Online, Excel Services, and Excel Web App

SharePoint enables you to view and interact with files, such as workbooks, in a browser window. In Office 365 (in the cloud), you’re using Excel Online to view and interact with workbooks. In SharePoint Server 2013 (on premises, you could be using Excel Services in SharePoint Server 2013 OR Excel Web App (as part of Office Web Apps Server), depending on how your SharePoint environment is configured. These applications are similar, but not identical.

What are the differences between Excel Online, Excel Services, and Excel Web App?

Excel Online, Excel Services, and Excel Web App all have a lot in common, but they are not exactly the same. These applications can differ in what workbook features are supported for viewing in a browser window. Some of the key differences are summarized in the following table by common tasks:

Task Supported in Excel Services (SharePoint Server 2013, on premises) Supported in Excel Web App (Office Web Apps Server, on premises)? Supported in Excel Online (in the cloud)?

Create or edit a workbook in a browser window

No

Yes

Yes (file size limits apply)

View and interact with a workbook that contains a Data Model

Yes

No

Yes (file size limits apply)

Refresh data in a workbook in a browser window

Yes (in most cases)

Depends on the data sources. Workbooks that contain a Data Model are not supported.

Yes, provided the data sources are supported and the workbook does not exceed a certain file size

View and interact with a workbook that contains a Power View sheet

Yes

No

Yes (file size limits apply)

View and interact with a workbook that contains a Power Map view

No

No

No

View and interact with items, such as PivotCharts, PivotTables timeline controls, and slicers

Yes

Yes, so long as those items do not use a Data Model as their data source.

Yes (file size limits apply)

View and interact with a workbook that contains calculated items (such as Calculated Fields, Calculated Measures, or Calculated Members)

Yes

See Calculated items in Excel and Excel Services.

Calculated Fields (created by using Power Pivot) are not supported.

Calculated Measures and Calculated Members are supported for viewing.

See Calculated items in Excel and Excel Services.

Yes, provided the data sources are supported and the workbook does not exceed a certain file size

Display a single item from a workbook in its own Web Part

Yes

Yes

Yes

View a workbook in a browser window when the workbook is in a SharePoint library that has Information Rights Management (IRM) applied

No

You must open the workbook in Excel

Yes

Yes

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How do I know whether I’m using Excel Online, Excel Services, or Excel Web App?

You might not know at first whether you’re using Excel Online (in the cloud), Excel Services (on premises), or Excel Web App (on premises) to view and interact with a workbook in a browser window. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to find out.

If you’re signing into Office 365, you’re using Excel Online.

If you’re using SharePoint Server 2013 (on premises), one good way to determine whether you’re using Excel Services or Excel Web App is to examine the website address (URL) for the workbook:

  • If the URL resembles “http://[servername]_layouts/15/xlviewer.aspx?id=/Documents/...” then Excel Services is used to render the workbook.
  • If the URL resembles “http://[servername]/_layouts/15/WopiFrame2.aspx?sourcedoc=/Documents/...” then Excel Web App is used to render the workbook.

 Important    The decision about whether Excel Web App or Excel Services is used to display workbooks in a browser window applies to the entire SharePoint environment. You can’t have Excel Web App in one site and Excel Services in another. Contact your SharePoint administrator for more information about how your environment is configured. For more detailed information, see Excel Services Overview (TechNet).

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Where can I get additional information?

For more information, see the following resources:

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Applies to:
Excel Online, SharePoint admin center, SharePoint Online Enterprise (E1), SharePoint Online Enterprise (E3 & E4), SharePoint Online Midsized Business, SharePoint Server 2013 Enterprise