Deploying Microsoft Office 2016: Customizing Setup

It’s finally time to work on the actual Office installation. We’ve spent several weeks preparing prerequisites, but now it’s time to get down to business. We’ll assemble all of the needed components, and then next time, we’ll will build our application packages and task sequences in Configuration Manager.

Acquiring the Installation Files

As I stated in the overview, my organization has licensed Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2016. Note that this is not the same thing as “Office 365 ProPlus“, which is a subscription plan. The former is packaged the same way as the previous three versions—as a collection of MSI packages coordinated by an executable installer. The latter is delivered via a streaming model. I will be addressing the former.

My organization has also licensed Microsoft Visio Professional 2016 and Microsoft Project Standard 2016. Since these two products are considered part of the Office family of applications even though they are packaged and licensed separately, there is some overlap in their installation files and those of Office Professional Plus. We’ll take advantage of this to build a single installation source for Configuration Manager, thus decreasing the amount of disk space and network bandwidth required to install all three products. (Machines that don’t have all three installed will still get the entire payload in their Configuration Manager caches, but in my environment, it makes sense to bundle them.)

  1. Download the ISO files from the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center. I downloaded both 32-bit and 64-bit media, so my files were:
    • SW_DVD5_Office_Professional_Plus_2016_64Bit_English_MLF_X20-42432.ISO
    • SW_DVD5_Office_Professional_Plus_2016_W32_English_MLF_X20-41353.ISO
    • SW_DVD5_Project_2016_64Bit_English_MLF_X20-42644.ISO
    • SW_DVD5_Project_2016_W32_English_MLF_X20-41488.ISO
    • SW_DVD5_Visio_Pro_2016_64Bit_English_MLF_X20-42764.ISO
    • SW_DVD5_Visio_Pro_2016_W32_English_MLF_X20-41585.ISO
  2. On your application staging file share (wherever you put application source files for Configuration Manager to find), create a folder for the Office, Project, and Visio installation sources. Mine will be \\fileserver\software$\Microsoft\Office Professional Plus 2016 (32-bit).
  3. Mount 32-bit Office ISO in Windows File Explorer by double-clicking it.
  4. Run the following commands to copy the ISO content to your installation source folder, checking the log file afterward to ensure that all files were copied successfully:
    rem Change the path to match your installation source.
    set OFFICEFOLDER=\\fileserver\software$\Microsoft\Office Professional Plus 2016 (32-bit)
    rem Change the path to the root of the drive where the ISO is mounted
  5. Eject the Office ISO image, and mount the 32-bit Project ISO.
  6. Run the following command to copy the ISO content to your installation source folder. The /XC, /XN, and /XO switches prevent Robocopy from overwriting any existing files in the destination.
  7. Eject the Project ISO image, and mount the 32-bit Visio ISO.
  8. Run the following commands to copy the ISO content to your installation source folder.
  9. Repeat steps 2 through 8 for the 64-bit ISOs, copying their contents into a separate installation source folder. Mine will be \\fileserver\software$\Microsoft\Office Professional Plus 2016 (64-bit).
  10. Download the Office 2016 Administrative Template files (ADMX/ADML) and Office Customization Tool from the Microsoft Download Center. These were released after Office, Project, and Visio, and so contain updated versions of the included files.
  11. Run the two downloaded executables to extract the files.
  12. Run the following commands to copy the ISO content to your installation source folder. Note that for product installation, we are only interested in the admin folder.
    rem Change this to the location where you extracted the 32-bit Office Customization Tool files
    set OCTSOURCE=E:\Downloads\Microsoft Office 2016 Administrative Template files (ADMX_ADML) and Office Customization Tool 32-bit (2015-10-21)\admin
    robocopy "%OCTSOURCE%" "%OFFICEFOLDER%\admin" /E /XJ /COPY:DAT /DCOPY:DAT /XC /XO /LOG:"%OFFICEFOLDER%\AdminCopyLog.txt"
  13. Repeat step 12 for the 64-bit Office Customization Tool and the 64-bit installation source admin folder.

Customize Setup with the Office Customization Tool

We’re going to use the Office Customization Tool to make our Office installations silent and to tweak a few settings. It looks like Microsoft has not revised its documentation for OCT in Office 2016, so please review a little bit of the Office Customization Tool (OCT) reference for Office 2013 if you are unfamiliar with the tool. I will take a step-by-step approach, though, so if you are new to OCT, you should still be able to follow along.

As I mentioned in the overview, my approach to application packaging is to make the installation silent so that it can be deployed with or without user interaction and to minimize or preferably eliminate first-run prompts wherever possible. For example, people that have been using Microsoft Office for years do not want to watch a video about Office or sign in with a Microsoft Account when their version of Office is upgraded; they just want it to work and not get in their way. On the other hand, as a system administrator, I don’t ever want to be too heavy-handed or nitpicky in application of custom settings because unexpected changes to default settings could be surprising or frustrating to users. I want to give users an experience as close as possible to the out-of-box experience designed by Microsoft without compromising the no-first-run-pop-ups rule. You can customize almost any setting in Office by using the Office customization tool, but don’t do it! Most organization-specific setting customizations belong in Group Policy, not in the installation program.

Open an administrative Command Prompt window and run the Office setup program with the /admin switch:

"\\fileserver\software$\Microsoft\Office Professional Plus 2016 (32-bit)\setup.exe" /admin

The Microsoft Office Customization Tool window will open and prompt you to select a product. Office, Project, and Visio should be listed. Choose to create a new Setup customization file for Office.

32-bit Office

Here are the settings that I used. These settings eliminate most first-run pop-ups. Also, since my organization uses Microsoft Exchange, Outlook will be able to figure out the account settings for the signed-in user automatically, so I include a setting that tells it to just do that and not bother the user with the new account wizard. As is the case with most installers, specifying a silent installation is not enough to prevent a reboot, so a Setup property is specified to make that intention clear. (See Setup properties reference for Office 2013; again, we’re relying on some 2013 documentation because there is no updated version for 2016.)

Setup section
Install location and organization name Leave the default installation path.

Type your organization’s name in the appropriate box.

Licensing and user interface Ensure that Use KMS client key is selected. (This is the default.)

Ensure that the I accept the terms in the License Agreement checkbox is checked.

Set the display level to None. Then ensure that the subsequent checkboxes have the following states:

  • Completion notice –  not checked (the default once display level is set to None)
  • Suppress modal – checked
  • No cancel – not checked (the default)
 Modify Setup properties  Add the property name SETUP_REBOOT (all capital letters) with the value Never (first letter only capitalized).
Features section
Modify user settings Ensure that the Migrate user settings checkbox is checked.

Configure the following settings:

  • Microsoft Office 2016
    • Privacy
      • Trust Center
        • Disable Opt-in Wizard on first run – Enabled
          The Opt-in Wizard is a first-run prompt that allows users to opt into Internet-based services like MS Update, CEIP, Office Diagnostics, & online help.
        • Automatically receive small updates to improve reliability – Enabled
    • First Run
      • Disable First Run Movie – Enabled
      • Disable Office First Run on application boot – Enabled.
  • Microsoft Outlook 2016
    • Account Settings
      • Exchange
        • Automatically configure profile based on Active Directory Primary SMTP address – Enabled
          Outlook knows all of the right answers for the account setup wizard; this setting prevents the user from having to click next Next-Next-Next-Finish. Instead, it just works.
Set feature installation states Set the root node to Run all from my computer.
Regardless of feature installation settings, everything is copied to disk no matter what. The whole thing is there, and we paid for it, so let’s turn it all on so that people can use it without any hassle.
Additional content section
Add registry entries  Add a registry entry under HKLM to tag installations of Office with an easy-to-read marker denoting this Setup customization file. I use a registry key with my organization’s name and a value that contains the customization file’s name.

For example:

  • Data type: REG_SZ
  • Key: SOFTWARE\Generic Midwestern University
  • Value name: Office Customization Tool Patch – ProPlus 2016-x86
  • Value data: OCT-ProPlus2016-x86-Silent-Install-2016-02-15

That last item is just my personal preference and is completely optional. I thought it might come in handy at some point in the future to be able to easily tell whether a given Office installation had been installed using my customization file.

Save the customization file to the root of the Office installation source folder. (It should be in the same location as setup.exe.) It is saved as a Windows Installer patch file (MSP). I use the following formula for naming the customization file; a hyphen separates the individual pieces of information:

  • “OCT” for “Office Customization Tool”
  • Product name based on its folder name in the installation source (e.g., ProPlus), followed by the version under which it is marketed (e.g., 2016)
  • CPU platform (i.e., x86 or x64)
  • “Silent-Install” to indicate that the installation requires no user interaction
  • The date the customization was created in yyyy-mm-dd format.

Following this naming scheme, the filename for the customization we just built is OCT-ProPlus2016-x86-Silent-Install-2016-02-15.MSP. This, of course, matches the registry value I added.

Project, Visio, and 64-bit Versions of Everything

You will need to create new customization files for each of the other two products. All of my settings for Project and Visio are identical to those for Office with the following exceptions:

  • There are obviously no Outlook 2016 settings.
  • The added registry value will reflect the name of its own customization file.

Then, when that is done, you can move to your 64-bit Office installation source folder and create three more customization files for 64-bit versions of Office, Project, and Visio. Don’t mix the bitness of customization files and installation files. You must use the 64-bit setup.exe program to build 64-bit customization files, and you must use the 32-bit setup.exe program to build 32-bit customization files. You cannot use the same customization file for both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of a product. You can, however, import a 32-bit customization file for a given product into the 64-bit OCT and then resave it as a 64-bit customization file for that same product, and vice versa.

When you are done, you should have six customization files. Mine are:

  • OCT-ProPlus2016-x86-Silent-Install-2016-02-15.MSP
  • OCT-VisPro2016-x86-Silent-Install-2016-02-15.MSP
  • OCT-PrjStd2016-x86-Silent-Install-2016-02-15.MSP
  • OCT-ProPlus2016-x64-Silent-Install-2016-02-15.MSP
  • OCT-VisPro2016-x64-Silent-Install-2016-02-15.MSP
  • OCT-PrjStd2016-x64-Silent-Install-2016-02-15.MSP

Testing Installation

My instructions above specified saving the customization files in the root of the Office installation source folder rather than in the Updates folder. If the customization files were in the Updates folder, they would be applied automatically during any installation. The problem is that only one customization for a given product can exist in the Updates folder. That’s fine for now; we only built a single customization file for each product. If I wanted to support multiple installations from a single installation source, though, this would not work. For example, suppose most users are served well by the installations described above, but for some business reason, some computers can only have Microsoft Word installed. If the customization files were in the Updates folder, I could not reuse this installation source; instead, I would have to have a separate copy of the complete Office installation files. That is clearly ridiculous, and so I planned ahead in case something like that happens by saving the customization files outside of the Updates folder. The consequence of that decision is that I must be explicit about which customization file when running setup. That will be our first command-line argument.

The second command-line argument will tell Setup which product to install. Since there is one setup.exe file in a folder structure of three products, Setup will prompt for which product to install unless we tell it on the command line in advance. To specify the product to install, we must point setup.exe to the config.xml file for the desired product. This file is located in the folder named after the product.

To get a full description of the command line parameters available, run setup.exe /?. Here are the commands to silently install the 32-bit versions of our three products:

rem The following command lines assume that the current directory is the installation source folder.

rem Office
setup.exe /adminfile "OCT-ProPlus2016-x86-Silent-Install-2016-02-15.MSP" /config "proplus.ww\config.xml"

rem Project
setup.exe /adminfile "OCT-PrjStd2016-x86-Silent-Install-2016-02-15.MSP" /config "prjstd.ww\config.xml"

rem Visio
setup.exe /adminfile "OCT-VisPro2016-x86-Silent-Install-2016-02-15.MSP" /config "vispro.ww\config.xml"

Coming Up

Next time, we’ll revisit the .NET prerequisites.

<update date=”2016-02-20″>Added setting the SETUP_REBOOT property to “Never”.</update>

<update date=”2016-04-17″>Revised the “Coming Up” section for accuracy.</update>

2 thoughts on “Deploying Microsoft Office 2016: Customizing Setup”

  1. One helpful note under 32-Bit Office for users who are not using KMS is to add the key obviously and then under “Modify Setup Properties” add a variable AUTO_ACTIVATE with a value of 1 and then the product will activate itself with the key provided.

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