Deploying Office 365 - Essential Info for every admin

Disclaimer: Note that this information is subject to change by Microsoft and should be verified by the reader. I guarantee nothing, but these statements are accurate as of the original date of this post. Dell does not provide legal advice, and readers should consult with Microsoft licensing specialists.

The Problem

Office 365 helps with licensing, and getting users the apps they want and need just-in-time, but it complicates installation when users don't have local admin access. 365 is a subscription service that also helps with keeping things current. The downside of all of this glory is loss of enterprise-grade configuration and control. Enter Office 365 "Click-To-Run" (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj219428(v=office.15) ) ...

The Necessary Steps

  1. Once you get all signed up for Office 365, you'll need to configure 365 to love your domain. Setting up SSO/Exchange/Etc.
  2. Install the client software There are two basic ways that you can deploy Office 365 ProPlus (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/library/gg702619.aspx ) in your organization:
    1. Have users install Office 365 ProPlus directly from the Office 365 portal. *Requires the least amount of administrative setup, but gives you less control over the deployment.
      1. Users must be local administrators on their computers to install Office 365 ProPlus.
      2. Users sign in to Office 365, and then browse to the software page. When a user selects Install, Office 365 ProPlus is streamed down from the Internet and installed on the user's local computer. The user has to remain connected to the Internet during the installation. When the installation is complete, the user doesn't have to remain connected to the Internet or signed in to the Office 365 portal.
      3. If users install from the Office 365 portal, Office 365 ProPlus installs updates from Office 365 automatically in the background from the Internet. You can't change this behavior.
      4. Also, if users install from the Office 365 portal, you can't control which computers they install Office 365 ProPlus on.
      5. If you'd rather deploy Office 365 ProPlus only from an on-premises location, you can prevent users from installing Office 365 ProPlus from the Office 365 portal. (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/library/jj219421.aspx )
    2. Download the Office 365 ProPlus software to your local network and then deploy it to your users. *Obviously what we're going to do
      1. Control: Where on the network Office 365 ProPlus is installed from; How Office 365 ProPlus is updated after it is installed; Which computers Office 365 ProPlus is installed on; Which users, if any, get the 64-bit version of Office 365 ProPlus; Which languages are available to install.
      2. Use the Office Deployment Tool ( http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/library/jj219422.aspx ) to download the Office 365 ProPlus software from Office 365. The Office Deployment Tool is available on the Microsoft Download Center.
  3. Update Everything. Office 365 ProPlus promises to be “always-up-to-date” in many ways and the design of the service is to not allow Office desktop applications to ever go more than a year out of date. For many users and in all self-installation scenarios, updates will stream regularly from the Office 365 public service. Managed organizations with Office 365 ProPlus have control over the update process to ensure that software updates do not introduce compatibility or similar issues prior to authorizing software updates for their managed PCs.
    1. MSP files are not involved in software updates.
    2. Likewise, management tools like Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) and K1000 are not distributing software updates to Click-to-Run software running on managed PCs. Crap. This is bad right? Not really- In this model, the user will not see software updates being applied or forced to close applications – unless instructed to do so by the administrator distributing and automating the update. Updates are applied in the background and simply by normal use of closing and re-opening the Office program, updates are applied to Office. Bad for you maybe, good for users.
    3. Automatic updates can be turned on or off and the user’s ability to access update controls are managed by Group Policy or the configuration file during installation for managed PCs with Office 365 ProPlus. There are three primary update options in Office 365 ProPlus:
      1. Automatic updates from the Office 365 service
      2. Automatic updates from a managed file share or http:// source location
      3. Manual updates by re-running Office setup with newer builds. 
      • Although Microsoft downplays it, I feel most enterprise should be using this third method. Now before you blow your stack about having to re-run setup.exe to get control of when office is updated - you should know that re-running setup.exe still has all the efficiencies of auto-updates. So nothing is uninstalled and reinstalled - it is simply a way to "kick off" the updates engine when you want to do it and with the version of Office you wish to have installed. There are a bunch of practical and theoretical reasons why this makes sense - here are a few of them:
        • It allows IT to take an ITIL approach to Office updates by qualifying the releases they wish to adopt. If desired they can quality the release with the amount of UA or compatibility testing they feel is merited.
        • It allows rate control over the bandwidth consumed. Initial install is about 1GB pulled from the installation locations. Subsequent updates are a delta, but I have measured the delta as high as 425 MB for two months worth.
        • It allows control over the backend replication of on-premise locations for office source files. Although a single install of Office 365 pulls about 1 GB, 175-250 MBs of that is a language pack. So if you support 10-12 languages, the source files you need to replicate could be 3-4 GB.
        • It allows selective targeting - your Office testing or your software distribution methodologies may require targeting specific geographies, business units or computing devices. By re-running setup you decide who gets what versions and when.A monthly build is available for download from Office 365 for up to one year (12 months). After that, the build is no longer supported. Administrators should check that their Office 365 ProPlus installations use a supported build that contains updates within the last year.

Administrators can configure updates behavior by using the Configuration.xml file for Click-to-Run. The following Updates element attributes are available:

  • Enabled If set to TRUE, Click-to-Run will automatically detect, download, and install updates. This is the default. If Enabled is set to FALSE, Office won’t check for updates and will remain at the installed version.
  • UpdatePath Can be used to specify a network, local, or HTTP path for a Click-to-Run installation source to use for updates. If UpdatePath isn’t set, or is set to special value “default”, the Microsoft Click-to-Run source on the Internet will be used.
  • TargetVersion Can be set to a Click-to-Run for Office 365 product build number, for example, When the version is set, Click-to-Run for Office 365 attempts to update to the specified version in the next update cycle. If TargetVersion isn’t set or is set to special value "default," Click-to-Run for Office 365 updates to the latest version advertised at the Click-to-Run source.
  • For information about Configuration.xml syntax, see Reference for Click-to-Run configuration.xml file. (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj219426(v=office.15).aspx )
  • For more information about Office 365 ProPlus configuration, read the Click-to-Run for Office 365 Configuration.xml file and Customization overview (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj219428(v=office.15) ) for Click-to-Run articles on TechNet.

The Solution
You are going to get better results if you start your journey with Office 365 SP1. If you are already familiar with downloading Office 365 updates using setup.exe, then use version number "15.0.4569.1507"
For the Office 2013 release, administrators can run the Office Deployment Tool to perform the following tasks:

  • Generating a Click-to-Run for Office 365 installation source To do this, administrators prepare a configuration file and run the tool in download mode.
  • Configuring Click-to-Run for Office 365 clients To do this, administrators prepare a configuration file and run the tool in configure mode.
  • Creating an App-V package To do this, administrators prepare a configuration file and run the tool in packager mode.

Licensing for Office 365 ProPlus

  • Each user has to have a user account and password with which to sign in to Office 365. To install Office 365 ProPlus, users must also be assigned an Office 365 license.

  • You can deploy Office 365 ProPlus on up to five different computers with a single Office 365 license. An Office 365 license is assigned to a specific user. For example, with a single Office 365 license, a user can have Office 365 ProPlus installed on a computer in the office, on a laptop to use when traveling, and on a home computer.

  • For more information, see Overview of licensing and activation in Office 365 ProPlus.


Activation of Office 365 ProPlus 

  • Activation occurs automatically the first time a user runs Office 365 ProPlus. Activation requires Internet connectivity.
  • Users don’t need to be connected to the Internet all the time to use Office 365 ProPlus. However, users must connect to the Internet at least once every 30 days. This is so the status of their Office 365 subscriptions can be checked. If users don’t connect within 30 days, Office 365 ProPlus goes into reduced functionality mode. After users connect to the Internet and their subscription status is verified, all the features of Office 365 ProPlus are available again.


Virtualization deployments of Office 365 ProPlus

  • You can deploy Office 365 ProPlus to a virtual desktop, but the virtual desktop must be assigned to a single user.
  • To use Remote Desktop Services, you must use a volume license version of Office Professional Plus 2013, which is available on the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC). 
  • The Office programs that are included with Office Professional Plus 2013 are the same programs that are included with Office 365 ProPlus. For more information, see Microsoft Volume Licensing Product Use Rights.


  • Chris, thanks for making this public! - ronco 10 years ago
    • Ronco needs points to get to his next belt methinks... :) Glad you like it Ron; if there's anything to add/change you're the guy that will find it- let me know! - cblake 10 years ago
  • I am trying to do a reinstall as you suggested. I push a package from sccm which has setup.exe /configure update.xml. This does reinstall office365 but our users lose pinned items and jump lists from task bar. Wondering if there was a way to retain the pinned items and jump lists because its very annoying for users. - Patilsandesh79 10 years ago
  • Any Idea how to handle uninstalling Office 2013? - MacDude 9 years ago
    • https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc178956.aspx?f=255&MSPPError=-2147217396

      setup.exe /uninstall ProPlus

      You can customize the /uninstall option by using it with /config and a modified Config.xml file. This is necessary if you want to run a “silent” uninstall. Example: \\server\share\Office15\setup.exe /uninstall ProPlus /config \\server\share\Office15\ProPlus.WW\SilentUninstallConfig.xml - cblake 9 years ago
  • Good article. Thanks for sharing. - apptopack 8 years ago
  • Great article, Chris. But it leads me to a question:

    How, using the registry, can you detect the difference between a traditional MSI-based installation of Office 2013 and an Office 365-based Click-to-Run installation of the Office 2013 applications? - snissen 8 years ago
    • Great question. Having not done both in the same environment, I wondered as well, and came up with this- http://windowsitpro.com/microsoft-office/determining-if-office-installation-click-run-or-not

      Which shows multiple methods, all of whic seem to be based on the presence of "Office 15 Click-to-Run Extensibility Component". WMI or registry could be used as a custom inventory rule to determine install method. - cblake 8 years ago
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