Microsoft 365 Business Tech Series Videos – Office 365 Business Deployment
In late June I was approached to record some short technical overview videos on Microsoft 365 Business, and now that they are recorded and published, it’s time to review them, and provide some additional resources and any important updates since the content was created. This is the tenth video in the series, and the focus is on Office 365 Business deployment.
The important thing to start off with here, just in case you weren't aware of it, is that the version of Office that is included with Microsoft 365 Business is the Office 365 Business edition. While Microsoft 365 Business does include Office 365 Business Premium, that's the combined suite of apps and online services. The desktop apps are Click To Run based (more on that later), and default to the monthly update channel.
Account information in Office 365 Business
The default approach to deploy Office 365 Business with Microsoft 365 Business is to use the Manage Office deployment option in Device actions, which chooses some default deployment options which makes sense in most cases - it's will be installed and updated from the cloud, it will install with the same language as the Windows installation, will be 32 bit, and will be monthly channel. You can't change these options in the Admin Center, and my suggestion is to go with this approach unless you have another requirement which may be highlighted in the scenarios below.
Office deployment via Admin Center
If the initial defaults don't meet your requirements (apart from cloud based deployment and updates), you can jump across to Intune in the Azure portal to start making some adjustments. One of the things I mentioned in the last post was that you will see references to Office 365 Pro Plus when deploying via Intune, but you can ignore that, it's the user licence that will make sure the right functionality is enabled on the desktop. One of the features that was added recently to Office 365 deployments was the ability for it to perform an automatic uninstall of any previous version of Office if required. This is currently something that can be done through Intune, but it's not something that is currently supported through the Admin Center deployment option.
There are a few things to note in the screenshot below that may be different to those of you coming across from Office 365 Pro Plus or the Configuration Manager world. One of the differences that's important for those used to performing Office 365 Pro Plus deployments is that Office 365 Business doesn't support shared computer activation, so there are some scenarios where it won't work the same way e.g. Remote Desktop Services environments. If you are familiar with deploying and managing Office 365 desktop apps via Configuration Manager, an important difference here is that you can't specify a local source for installation or for updates - this approach means it's all cloud, all the time.
This means we can move on to the next deployment scenario using the Office Deployment Tool. The one I'll focus on is how do approach a non-cloud based deployment and instead use a local file share for distribution, or alternatively we might have other requirements that a native Intune based deployment doesn't support. While you may choose to do the initial install on the local network to save bandwidth and speed up the deployment, my recommendation is to make sure you don't configure updates from a local network source, instead allow it to do online updates. In the paragraph above I mentioned that if you are coming from a Configuration Manager environment you may be used to the client detecting if it needs to do a cloud update versus trying a local source, but that's not something we can do here. If we have an existing management solution that can
An example ODT XML file, which could be used to install Office 365 Business and Visio (not a part of Microsoft 365 Business).
The final scenario touched on is revisiting PowerShell in Intune to allow us to use it to drive an on-premises based deployment based on the XML file we create with the Office Deployment Tool. I covered the PowerShell option generically in the last post, and of course we can use PowerShell for a wide variety of tasks, not just app deployments.
Configuring PowerShell scripts for deployment in Intune
You can see that we have options available for deployment that meet the needs of SMB customers, and over time I'm sure we'll see more flexibility in the Admin Center if there is enough demand for it.