Tags: , , | Posted by Antonios Daskos on 3/18/2011 5:39 PM | Comments (0)

There's a plethora of knowledge regarding the following issues, but let me reiterate my experiences - being new to SharePoint - with anything 64-bit.

I'm working on Windows 7 64-bit and try to use the 64-bit version of any software that provides one. That goes for Internet Explorer 9 and Microsoft Office 2010. While Internet Explorer 32-bit will install side-by-side with its 64-bit version, Microsoft Office cannot. And it's not something you should want anyway.

The above setup, although not uncommon in a development environment, will often be the source of disconcert, before you figure out what is supported and what's not.

Microsoft provides a relatively detailed article about browser compatibility here: Plan browser support (SharePoint Foundation 2010). Internet Explorer 9 is absent (it's only been a few days). And my favorite browser, Opera, is not even mentioned (by the way Opera can display most of the content of SharePoint site but the majority of functionality will not work, especially if it relies on ActiveX components so it renders SharePoint unusable). The 64-bit  version of Internet Explorer though, was trickier, since it works quite well, but with limitations (as Microsoft mentions). That was the tough part, since you're not really aware you're missing functionality unless you've worked with the 32-bit version before and can make the comparison. Some buttons will be disabled and might give you a hint, but others will be simply missing!

The trigger for this post, was the Datasheet view which in IE (64-bit) is simply disabled. Switching to IE (32-bit) the button comes to life again. But to no avail. Clicking on it gives you a javascript error:

The list cannot be displayed in Datasheet view for one or more of the following reasons

- A datasheet component compatible with Microsoft SharePoint Foundation is not installed.
- Your Web browser does not support ActiveX controls.
- A component is not properly configured for 32-bit or 64-bit support.

While very descriptive, the message hinted to Internet Explorer's settings or possibly a partial Office installation. Searching around for any component missing or IE setting not relaxed enough to allow execution of the ActiveX (check this site for detailed instructions) led nowhere. So the third option hinted at what I was afraid. Office 64-bit doesn't provide a 64-bit version the required ActiveX control to work in Datasheet view. The TechNet article states so too (I guess it will soon get updated to include the still new IE9):

Datasheet view
Requires a 64-bit ActiveX control. Microsoft Office 2010 does not provide a 64-bit version of this control.

Uninstalling Office and installing the 32-bit version is neither a simple task nor what I'd have wanted. Thankfully I stumbled upon numerous sites mentioning some success by installing the 2007 Office System Driver: Data Connectivity Components.

Installing it, indeed resolved the issue and the Datasheet view opened!

I noticed though that the components were a bit too old for my taste and one major version behind the currently installed Office suite. Me being me, I thought I should search for a later version. Indeed, searching Microsoft Downloads Center for "Office System Driver: Data Connectivity Components" returned two more results:

I immediately tried to install the 2010 version, but it required that I uninstall the 2007 first. I did so promptly and tried the 64-bit version first. It didn't work. The error remained. I tried installing the 32-bit version but it notified me that my current Office version is 64-bit and cannot be installed without removing Office first.

So I switched back to the 2007 version and tried SP2. Note, that SP2 looks for the original 2007 components to update so you have to install them first before applying the Service Pack. The installation completed without any issue and the Datasheet view worked again. So at least I'm running the latest update (of a three year old component).

In conclusion, Office 64-bit really can be a source of trouble when working with SharePoint. It all depends on the features you want to use and your will to spend some time looking for workarounds. I hope I don't stumble upon some issue that's unsurpassable. Until then I'm going to stick to 64-bit versions and hope for the best. I'm sure there are reasons behind such limitations and issues that won't let Microsoft make two of their products collaborate, so I won't pretend to know better. But this being 2011 and Microsoft pushing towards 64-bit like no other, I'm surprised to find such limitations still prevail. Remember: SharePoint Foundation 2010 only offers a 64-bit version after all!

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