Friday, October 7, 2016

Using the Office Deployment Toolkit

One of the most common questions I see around Office 365 is how to deploy Office applications to desktop using a single download or from a central network repository. To this you’ll need to use the Office Deployment Toolkit.

The first step is in this process is to download the appropriate version. The 2016 version is available here:

Office 2016 Deployment Tool

If you want to use this tool to deploy software across a local network the suggestion is that you download and install the tool on a suitable machine with enough disk space and that is available and connected to all machines on the network.

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Once you have downloaded and installed the tool you should see just two files as shown above. It is also a good idea to share the location of the Office Deployment Toolkit across your network so connected machines can run the setup.exe program remotely to actually install the software.

The next step then is to create a network share into which the downloaded Office desktop software will be located on this machine.

In that directory you will find a file called configuration.xml. If you open this file you will see something like:

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This contains information about the version of the Office software that will be downloaded and deployed. What you see here is only a very basic version of what the possible options are for the configuration file. You find the full list of options and parameters for this configuration file here:

Configuration options for the Office Deployment tool

However, I would suggest that an easier way to generate the appropriate configuration file for your environment is to visit:

http://officedev.github.io/Office-IT-Pro-Deployment-Scripts/XmlEditor.html

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This web based tool allows you to enter in all the parameters you require and then for the configuration file to be built out for you automatically on the right. You can then simply copy and paste, email or download the result.

Take this and use it to overwrite the default configuration file provided.

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You then need to go to the command prompt and navigate to the directory into which you downloaded the Office Deployment Toolkit. You then need to run the command:

setup.exe /download configuration.xml

This will then download the specified Office software to the location on your machine as specified in the configuration.xml file.

It is important to note here that you are downloading a full version of the Office desktop software every time, not just updates. You can rerun the command at any point with updated configuration parameters if required.

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Once the command has completed, if you view the location where the files have been downloaded you should see something similar to that shown above.

You’ll also notice that I have different versions of Office software available thanks to also selecting to make first release versions of the software available.

With the Office software now downloaded to a shared network location, from a connected workstation you can map to the network location for the Office Deployment toolkit setup files and run the command:

setup.exe /configure configuration.xml

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You should then see the Office software installation process commence.

The installation will use the parameters you have previously defined in the configuration.xml file.

The configuration.xml file also controls how updates are handled. Use the <Updates> element to set attributes. For example:

<Updates Enabled="TRUE" UpdatePath="\\Server\share\" TargetVersion="15.1.2.3" Deadline=“12/16/2014 18:30"/>

If you wish to install Office software from Office 365 onto a Remote Desktop Server (RDS or Terminal Server) environment you MUST use the Office Deployment Toolkit to do this. You will also need to specify the following in the configuration.xml file:

<Property Name="SharedComputerLicensing" Value="1" />

Of course, you also need the appropriate version of Office 365. This is E3 or better. Business Premium suites are NOT licensed to have Office software installed in a RDS environment.

There are plenty of options available to you in configuration.xml to manage deployments, updates and removals so be sure to take a look at all the options. However, I recommend you use:

http://officedev.github.io/Office-IT-Pro-Deployment-Scripts/XmlEditor.html

to actually create the configuration.xml file you need.

Using the Office Deployment Toolkit is a quick and easy way to deploy and control Office software from Office 365 from a central network repository. It not only saves you bandwidth but also time.