We often get asked questions about the Office Web Components, commonly known as "OWC", and in particular how the different versions of Office Web Components will be maintained in the future. This post will explain the different versions of Office Web Components that are available and the differences in their lifecycles based on those versions. Office Web Components are most often used to develop custom applications, especially web applications, so if you have never heard of them, this post may not interest you. This post mirrors the content found in Microsoft Knowledge Base article 972129, modified to fit the blog format.
The most important thing to be aware of is that the Office Web Components technology has been deprecated. This means that only security fixes are being made to all versions of OWC, and no future versions of OWC will be produced. If you are using OWC, you should begin migrating to a new technology as soon as possible. For more information, see the blog post "Office Web Components Roadmap". Note that the lifecycle dates given in that blog post are less detailed than those described here. For more information on the Microsoft Support Lifecycle policy, see the Microsoft Support Lifecycle website.
Before we consider the OWC lifecycle, we need to define the different versions of OWC. There have been three versions of Office Web Components: Office 2000 Web Components, Office XP Web Components, and Office 2003 Web Components. Each version released as a web download and on the CDs of the corresponding version of Office. In addition, each version was re-released along with the next version of Office. So there is a version of Office 2000 Web Components on the Office XP CDs and a version of Office XP Web Components on the Office 2003 CDs. The Office 2003 Web Components were not released on Office 2007 CDs, but they were re-released to the web and included with Project Server 2007. Although these re-releases carry the same names and functionality as the original release, for technical reasons they are considered separate products for patching purposes.
This is very important when we consider the product lifecycles for OWC. Each version of OWC, including the re-releases, is supported according to the version of Office with which it shipped. So the version of Office 2000 Web Components that shipped with Office 2000 is in extended support until Office 2000 leaves extended support on July 14th, 2009, but the version of Office 2000 Web Components that shipped with Office XP is in extended support until Office XP leaves extended support on 7/12/2011. This same rule applies to the other versions of OWC as well. Here are the support milestone dates and release locations for all of the different versions of OWC:
Mainstream Support Ends
Extended Support Ends
OWC 2000 (Office 2000 version)
Office 2000 CD, web
Mainstream support has ended.
OWC 2000 (Office XP version)
Office XP CD
OWC XP (Office XP version)
Office XP CD, web
OWC XP (Office 2003 version)
Office 2003 CD
OWC 2003 (Office 2003 version)
Office 2003 CD, web (versions 1-3)
OWC 2003 (Office 2007 version)
Project Server 2007 CD, web (version 4)
Edit on 8/3/2009: Corrected a typo that incorrectly indicated that the Office 2003 Web Components were not released on Office 2003 CDs. The Office 2003 Web Components were released on Office 2003 CDs but were not released on Office 2007 CDs.