Deploying Microsoft Office 2016: Removing Old Versions

For the last few weeks, we’ve been building application packages to serve as prerequisites for Office 2016 installation. Today, we’ll tackle one last preparatory issue before actually constructing the Office 2016 Application in Configuration Manager.

As we’ll see next week, Office 2016 has numerous options that can be set at installation time. One of these options instructs the Office Setup program to uninstall previous versions of Office before beginning the installation process. This is great because having multiple versions of Office installed just doesn’t work in several combinations, and in others, it is supported but not recommended. See Install and use different versions of Office on the same PC for links to additional details.

Unfortunately, this fantastic feature of the Office setup program doesn’t actually work! During setup, if the currently installed (old) version of Office contains a program (e.g., SharePoint Designer 2010) that has been eliminated from the product in the current version, the setup program can’t remove it. Also, if the existing installation is damaged in some way, it may not be able to be uninstalled reliably. Therefore, if we want a clean upgrade experience for existing installations, we have to find another method to remove previous versions of Office.

The Office Deployment Support Team Blog provides the answer. In the post, How to uninstall Office 2010 and move to Office 2013 (Click to Run or Volume License), the author writes:

Utilizing Offscrub is the best method of removing a previous version of Office. It will call setup.exe and MSIExec to remove the bits. It is best equipped to deal with machine or software corruption and completely removes Office app shortcuts for the previous version. We recommend using Offscrub in almost every situation of moving from Office 2010 to Office 2013.

What is this “OffScrub” program? OffScrub is the underlying VBScript program that runs when you download and run a Microsoft FixIt program to remove Office. We’re going to follow the Office Deployment Support Blog’s suggestion and use this technology to reliably remove all previous versions of Office back to Office 2003 before installing Office 2016. Let’s get started.

Acquiring the Script Files

I am going to walk through all of the steps below, but you may want to take a moment to go read How to obtain and use Offscrub to automate the uninstallation of Office products from the Office Deployment Support Blog. That is a major source for this post.

Download the FixIt Programs

Let me save you some time. I downloaded seven separate FixIt files for various versions of Office and Windows. For each version of Office, one package is available for Windows 7 and lower, and another package is available for Windows 8 and higher. It turns out that the OffScrub*.vbs file is the same in both packages. (There is one exception: The Windows 7 Offscrub03.vbs for Office 2003 is missing one of the subroutines that it calls—a bug—but the subroutine exists in the Windows 8 version.) Therefore, you will only have to download four FixIt files. We’ll use the Windows 8 versions because they are easier to extract and don’t have the bug mentioned above.

  1. Browse to the Microsoft Support article, How to uninstall Office 2003, Office 2007 or Office 2010 suites if you cannot uninstall it from Control Panel.
  2. Download each of the FixIt programs available on that page for Windows 8. Save them in folders named for the year of the Office version followed by a hyphen and the applicable OS platforms:
    • 2003-Win8
    • 2007-Win8
    • 2010-Win8

    Note: There is a FixIt listed separately for Office 2010 on Windows 10 in the Office Support article, Uninstall or remove Office 2010. As with the Windows 7 version, this FixIt is the same as the one listed here for Windows 8.

  3. Browse to Uninstall Office 2013, Office 2016, or Office 365 from a Windows computer.
  4. Download the “easy fix tool” into a folder named “2013-2016-O365-Win”.

I wanted to show you where all of the files came from, but for reference, here are direct links to all of them:

Windows 7 & earlier
(Shaded links aren’t needed for this blog post.)
Windows 8 Windows 10
Office 2003 MicrosoftEasyFix50416.msi No FixIt available
Office 2007 MicrosoftEasyFix50154.msi  No FixIt available
Office 2010 MicrosoftEasyFix50450.msi
Office 2013/2016 O15CTRRemove.diagcab

Based on the fact that the Office 2010 FixIt files are the same for Windows 10 and all other Windows versions, I am going to assume that the same is true for Office 2003 and 2007.

Extract the OffScrub Scripts

Now we must depart a bit from our instructions, which predate the release of Windows 8. The FixIt programs we downloaded are packaged in DIAGCAB files. DIAGCAB files work with the Windows Troubleshooting Platform, but architecturally, they are just CAB files, so we can extract their contents with the expand command.

On your application staging file share (wherever you put application source files for Configuration Manager to find), create a folder structure for the OffScrub scripts. Mine will be \\fileserver\software$\Microsoft\OffScrub with a subfolder for each Office version. Make the appropriate changes for your environment in the commands below, and then run them.

rem Change the path to match the parent of all of the folders created earlier.
rem This can also be a network path, like \\server\share\OffScrubDownloads
set OFFSCRUBSOURCE=E:\OffScrubDownloads
set OFC2003WIN8=%OFFSCRUBSOURCE%\2003-Win8
set OFC2007WIN8=%OFFSCRUBSOURCE%\2007-Win8
set OFC2010WIN8=%OFFSCRUBSOURCE%\2010-Win8
set OFC20132016=%OFFSCRUBSOURCE%\2013-2016-O365-Win

rem Change the path to match your Configuration Manager application source location.
set OFFSCRUBDESTINATION=\\fileserver\software$\Microsoft\OffScrub

rem Use the EXPAND command to extract the OffScrub files (-f) from the DIAGCAB files, which are really just CAB files with specialized contents, and disregard internal folder structure (-i).
expand -i "%OFC2003WIN8%\" -f:OffScrub*.vbs "%OFFSCRUBDESTINATION%\2003"
expand -i "%OFC2007WIN8%\" -f:OffScrub*.vbs "%OFFSCRUBDESTINATION%\2007"
expand -i "%OFC2010WIN8%\" -f:OffScrub*.vbs "%OFFSCRUBDESTINATION%\2010"
expand -i "%OFC20132016%\O15CTRRemove.diagcab" -f:OffScrub*.vbs "%OFFSCRUBDESTINATION%\2013"
move /y "%OFFSCRUBDESTINATION%\2013\OffScrub_O16msi.vbs" "%OFFSCRUBDESTINATION%\2016"

The expand commands above extract just the VBS files that we need from the DIAGCAB files.

Update from 2016-04-03

Subsequent to this blog post’s initial publication, testing showed that while all of the extracted scripts work correctly when run manually, they fail on 64-bit Windows when run from inside a Configuration Manager Package. It turns out that even in Configuration Manager v1511, the engine that executes package programs is run in a 32-bit process on 64-bit Windows. That means that calls to cscript.exe on 64-bit Windows will use the SysWOW64 version of cscript.exe and will get the special modified view of the system provided for 32-bit processes. This prevents the scripts from adequately searching through the entire system and effectively removing Office programs. I added the following section to deal with this issue.

Overriding the File System Redirector

In order to work properly, the Offscrub scripts must all run in the native bitness of the platform. On 64-bit Windows, that means we must directly call the native cscript.exe program when running from within a Configuration Manager Package. In order to keep the package programs platform neutral, I wrote a small script to use in place of cscript.exe that figures out which cscript.exe to call, and then does so. I am indebted to Andrew Lukaszewski, whose generic script to overcome this issue inspired the more specific script below.

Copy the following into a plain ANSI text file and save it as CScriptNative.cmd in the root of the Offscrub folder structure. (Mine is \\fileserver\software$\Microsoft\OffScrub\CScriptNative.cmd.)

@echo off
rem CScriptNative.cmd
rem Author: Jay Michaud (
rem Date: 2016-03-02
rem Source:
rem Acknowledgement: Inspired by Andrew Lukaszewski's blog at
rem Description: Use this command script in place of cscript.exe to ensure that the script runs as a 64-bit process on 64-bit operating systems.
rem This is useful when deploying a script as a package program in Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager, where the engine that runs the package program is a 32-bit process on 64-bit Windows.
rem Example: Instead of
rem cscript.exe //B //NoLogo "\\server\share\path\to\my script.vbs"
rem run
rem NativeCScript //B //NoLogo "\\server\share\path\to\my script.vbs"

rem On 32-bit Windows, the PROCESSOR_ARCHITEW6432 environment variable is not defined by the operating system.
rem On 64-bit Windows, the PROCESSOR_ARCHITEW6432 environment variable is not defined by the operating system in 64-bit processes.
rem On 64-bit Windows, the PROCESSOR_ARCHITEW6432 environment variable is defined by the operating system in 32-bit processes as "AMD64" (without quotation marks).

if "%PROCESSOR_ARCHITEW6432%"=="AMD64" (
rem Currently running as 32-bit process on 64-bit Windows (SysWOW64)
rem Launch CScript through Sysnative
"%SystemRoot%\Sysnative\cscript.exe" %*
) else (
"%SystemRoot%\System32\cscript.exe" %*

If the script detects that it is running in a 32-bit process on 64-bit Windows, it calls the 64-bit cscript.exe directly, bypassing the File System Redirector, by calling "%SystemRoot%\Sysnative\cscript.exe". Otherwise, it calls the native cscript.exe located in the System32 folder.

Building the Configuration Manager Package

In the previous blog posts in this series, I have been using the phrase “application package” and the word “Application” (capitalized) interchangeably to refer to an Application object in Configuration Manager. Because the OffScrub VBS scripts perform a task and don’t actually install anything, an Application will not work. Instead, we will build a single Configuration Manager Package to hold all of the scripts.

Please consult the TechNet documentation for assistance in building a ConfigMgr Package: Packages and programs in System Center Configuration Manager. Here are the specifics.

Property Value
Package Properties
Name Microsoft OffScrub
Description Collection of program removal scripts for Office 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, and Office 365 from Microsoft PSS.
Manufacturer Microsoft
Language Leave blank
Version Leave blank
 This package contains source files Checked
Source folder \\fileserver\software$\Microsoft\OffScrub
Standard Program Properties – Office 2003
Name OffScrub03
Command line "%SystemRoot%\System32\cmd.exe" /C "CScriptNative.cmd //B //NoLogo "2003\OffScrub03.vbs" ALL /Quiet /NoCancel /Force /OSE"
Startup folder Leave blank
Run Hidden
Program can run Whether or not a user is logged on
Run mode Run with administrative rights (selection is disabled)
Allow users to view and interact with the program installation Unchecked
Drive mode Runs with UNC name
 Run another program first Unchecked
 This program can run only on specified platforms On any platform

Note that these scripts will only run on Windows, but in my environment, the 32-bit versions of Windows 8 and 8.1 are not present in this list, so I could not use this list to filter where this package would appear. I do not know if their absence is a bug in Configuration Manager or a problem with my organization’s ConfigMgr environment. In any case, I need these scripts to run on 32-bit Windows, so I must specify “On any platform” in order to have the above-mentioned platforms included.

Estimated disk space 146 KB
Maximum allowed run time (minutes) 120 (the default)

All of the scripts names are unique, so they all could have been placed into the same folder. Putting each script into its own folder allows this package to grow easily in the future even if Microsoft releases an OffScrub script with the same name as an existing one.

The Run, Program can run, and Run mode properties indicate silent installation and are typical for programs that need to be deployed as “required” or in a task sequence. My plan is to deploy this in a task sequence.

The command line deserves some explanation. Our instructions recommend not using the Force switch because it can cause users to lose data. I looked at the source code of the command line argument handling and the declarations of the flags that are set by those arguments. The reason for that warning is that the Force switch causes the Office programs to exit if they are running, presumably without allowing the user to save his/her data. Because I am planning to deploy this only in a task sequence, I will include a reboot step prior to running any OffScrub scripts; that will prevent any user from having an Office application running when the script starts.

Our instructions further recommend that we bypass stage 1 (/Bypass 1) when automating Office uninstallation because it can trigger repairs in some products. I took a look at the source code to see what stage 1 actually accomplishes, but I didn’t get very far because I noticed that if the Force switch is passed, the Bypass switch is ignored for stage 1. Since I am passing the Force switch to ensure a complete uninstallation, there is no point in passing the Bypass switch just to have it be ignored.

Each of these scripts automatically logs several different files of output to %TEMP% without any need to specify the /Log switch. While you are testing this package, check there to see if anything is going awry.

The rest of the programs are nearly identical to the first one we built above. I will list below only the properties that differ. Set all other properties to the same values as those in the Office 2003 program.

Property Value
Standard Program Properties – Office 2007
Name OffScrub07
Command line "%SystemRoot%\System32\cmd.exe" /C "CScriptNative.cmd //B //NoLogo "2007\OffScrub07.vbs" ALL /Quiet /NoCancel /Force /OSE"
Estimated disk space 172 KB
Standard Program Properties – Office 2010
Name OffScrub10
Command line "%SystemRoot%\System32\cmd.exe" /C "CScriptNative.cmd //B //NoLogo "2010\OffScrub10.vbs" ALL /Quiet /NoCancel /Force /OSE"
Estimated disk space 181 KB
Standard Program Properties – Office 2013
Name OffScrubO15
Command line "%SystemRoot%\System32\cmd.exe" /C "CScriptNative.cmd //B //NoLogo "2013\OffScrub_O15msi.vbs" ALL /Quiet /NoCancel /Force /OSE"
Estimated disk space 364 KB
Standard Program Properties – Office 2016
Name OffScrubO16
Command line "%SystemRoot%\System32\cmd.exe" /C "CScriptNative.cmd //B //NoLogo "2016\OffScrub_O16msi.vbs" ALL /Quiet /NoCancel /Force /OSE"
Estimated disk space 363 KB
Standard Program Properties – Office Click to Run
Name OffScrubC2R
Command line "%SystemRoot%\System32\cmd.exe" /C "CScriptNative.cmd //B //NoLogo "C2R\OffScrubc2r.vbs" ALL /Quiet /NoCancel /OSE"

Note: While the C2R script tests an internal fForce flag value, it does not process a /Force switch, so it is omitted here.

Estimated disk space 265 KB

Finally, now that all of the programs are created in the package, we must edit one property not available during program creation. Open each program, and on the Advanced tab, check the Allow this program to be installed from the Install Package task sequence without being deployed box.

We now have a Configuration Manager Package that can remove all traces of any version of Microsoft Office back to 2003.

Coming Up

Next time, we will look at the Office 2016 setup program and how to customize it for silent installation through Configuration Manager.

<update date=”2016-02-21″>Added instruction to allow installation in a task sequence without being deployed.</update>

<update date=”2016-03-03″>Changed paths so that each script has its own folder. Removed /Log switch from all scripts because they all log to %TEMP% by default. Added warnings about failure on 64-bit operating systems.</update>

<update date=”2016-04-03″>Removed 64-bit warnings. Added “Overriding the File System Redirector” section and updated program command lines to use CScriptNative.cmd instead of cscript.exe.</update>