The new Office Garage Series: Click-to-Run Customization and Deployment Deep Dive Part 3 - Integration and Automation with Software Distribution Tools

This week marks the third in a three part series as hosts Jeremy Chapman and Yoni Kirsh take the concepts from installing and configuring Office Click-to-Run in the first two parts and integrate those with software distribution tools like System Center Configuration Manager, Microsoft Deployment Toolkit and Windows Intune. They demonstrate the specific commands used with standalone software installation or part of the Windows imaging process and Jeremy tests whether he can stream Office to his car PC while WiFi-tethered with his phone before he crosses Seattle's famous floating bridge on Interstate 520.

Add an ICS reminder to your calendar to tune in each Wednesday 9am PST. We redirect the link each week to go to the latest episode.

Jeremy: Last week in part two out of three of our focus on managing and configuring the new Office, we talked about the workarounds you might use to block unwanted Office desktop applications from running and how you would install Office Click-to-Run in a multiple language environment. While Click-to-Run doesn't allow you to block certain components of Office from installing, there are ways to hide or block unwanted applications from running. I showed AppLocker in action to block Access from running.

Yoni: And if you don't have Windows Enterprise required to use AppLocker, Jeremy showed another way to block executables using the AppHelp Hard Block mechanism Windows uses. Probably not the cleanest approach to blocking an EXE, but if simply hiding paths into the application just won't do, you can use the same approach Windows uses to block apps. You might also want to look at App-V 5 with Office 365 ProPlus if you want to deselect Office apps altogether.

Jeremy: So this week we translate what we saw in episode 5's deployment race a few weeks back, but actually show how to get Configuration Manager, MDT and Windows Intune set up to automate the installation of Office 365 ProPlus on behalf of end users. Office 365 ProPlus Click-to-Run is installed via a setup.exe bootstrapper similar to the Office MSI packages so normal software distribution tools work to install Office.

Yoni: For tools like System Center Configuration Manager, Windows Intune or third party software distribution you can download and import Office Click-to-Run installation binaries, create packages (or Apps if you use ConfigMgr '12) and advertise them as you would any other application. We documented all of the silent install commands last week in Part 2 of this deep dive. Another thing you can do with Office 365 ProPlus is use these tools to send a small instruction set down to your Internet-connected endpoints and have them pull Office bits directly from the Office 365 CDN.

Jeremy: I blogged about that a few months back on the Office 365 Community Technical Blog with a video demo and it adds another option for distributing Office and saving your VPN bandwidth potentially for remote computers. You transfer around 250kb telling the end point what to install, including: build, architecture, and update behavior. Then the 700MB or so Office package is streamed from the Internet via the Office 365 CDN instead of using your software distribution infrastructure and a remote VPN connection.

Yoni: This week you demonstrated this option in your car using Windows Intune to install Office 365 ProPlus directly from the Office CDN. You'll have to check out this week's show to see how that went. And if the install from the Internet option isn't your cup of tea or you are in a market where Internet is charged by the amount of MB transferred, you may want to block installation of Office via the Internet. In that case, you can disallow user self-installation in the Office 365 Admin Portal and use software distribution infrastructure exclusively to ensure all Office 365 ProPlus installs happen within your LAN. The flexibility is there and the decision is yours to make.

Jeremy: There is another question we get a lot, "Can we put Office 365 ProPlus and Click-to-Run builds in our Windows images?"

Yes. Whether you preinstall Office in your image then capture it or whether you install Office at build time with a task sequence, both will work. If you are installing and capturing the image, Office has been tested to work fine after running Sysprep.exe. The main thing to remember in that case is you want to install, but not activate Office. So the procedure would be to

  • install and customize your Windows image,
  • install Office using the "setup.exe /configure .\configuration.xml" process, 
  • run Sysprep.exe, then
  • capture with imagex.exe or dism.exe.  

If you are using the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit for imaging, there is another important point to remember. When Office installs using Click-to-Run the integratedoffice.exe process managing the installation is passed from the installation initiator account (in MDT it is the Administrator account) to the System Account after around 10% of the installation progress. That means the System Account also needs access to the deployment share or wherever you are pointing setup.exe via the SourcePath property to look for the Click-to-Run package. One thing I do here to ensure success is copy the installation package to the local hard drive of the target machine, then run setup. This is roughly how the Office MSI setup uses the hidden C:\MSOCache folder to stage installation files.

On the show I added two custom tasks to my MDT task sequence. This assumes I imported Office into the ".\Deploy\Applications\Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus\" directory in my MDT deployment share:  

Task Name: Copy Office 365 ProPlus
Command: xcopy.exe "%deployroot%\Applications\Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus\*" "%SystemDrive%\Deploy\Applications\Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus\" /e

Task Name: Install Office 365 ProPlus
Command: "%SystemDrive%\Deploy\Applications\Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus\setup.exe" /configure "%SystemDrive%\Deploy\Applications\Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus\configuration.xml"

The nice thing about these tasks and using the %SystemDrive%\Deploy folder as a file cache location is that MDT's LTICleanup.wsf is run at the end of the MDT task sequence and deletes the Office installation source files automatically from the hard drive when the task sequence completes. If you use this approach as opposed to ensuring the System Account has access to Office source, these two custom tasks should be very late in your overall task sequence so MDT doesn't inadvertently set its %deployroot% variable at some point in the process to the %SystemDrive%.

Yoni: Of course there are a few ways to accomplish what Jeremy describes above and you can add controls to customize installation using install scripts or database variables to control language preferences, architecture, source and update locations, etc. by modifying which configuration.xml files are called by setup.  

Jeremy: The sky is the limit and the nice thing about automation is that you tend to only need to know this stuff as long as it takes to build out your software distribution processes and task sequences, after that it just runs by itself.

Yoni: Be sure to check out the other two parts of this series if you are in the midst of figuring out how to customize and deploy Office 365 ProPlus:

Jeremy: That wraps up our three-part series on customization and deployment. Next week we'll go deep on the software update engine and available controls. Plus Yoni will get behind the wheel in a Ferrari F430 Spider as he looks to see if he can beat Sydney, Australia traffic in next week's XStream Install. 

See you next week.

Jeremy and Yoni


More Resources:

Deployment Options for Office 365 ProPlus

Deploy Click-to-Run for Office 365 products by using the Office Deployment Tool

Garage Series for IT Pros Archive of previous episodes

Office 365 ProPlus Trial

Office TechCenter on TechNet

Office 365 TechCenter on TechNet

Follow @OfficeGarage on Twitter


 About the Garage Series hosts:

By day, Jeremy Chapman works at Microsoft, responsible for optimizing the future of Office client and service delivery as the senior deployment lead. Jeremy’s background in application compatibility, building deployment automation tools and infrastructure reference architectures has been fundamental to the prioritization of new Office enterprise features such as the latest Click-to-Run install. By night, he is a car modding fanatic and serial linguist. He first met Yoni Kirsh, founder of the Australian-based deployment services company Fastrack Technology, back in 2007 at a Microsoft customer desktop advisory council. Yoni's real-world experience managing some of the largest Client deployments for the Asia Pacific region has helped steer the direction of the new Office. Additionally, Yoni is an aviation enthusiast and pilot. Both Jeremy and Yoni are respected technical speakers and between them have over 20 years of experience in the deployment and management of Microsoft Office and Windows clients. They are also leading experts in the transition to Office as a service.