Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Windows 10 and Office 2016 : Deployment

In a previous blog post, I installed ADMX and langauge specific ADML files that allow me to manage settings for Windows 10 and Office 2016 through Group Policy. However, I had no Windows 10 clients and no installation of Office 2016 (the Outlook mail client in particular).

That has changed. I have added a Windows 10 Pro client to my test network and purchased an Office 365 Business Premium license, which grants me the right to download and install the full version of "Office 2016 ProPlus". Among other applications, this package includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and especially Outlook.

I had never used the downloadable version of Office 2016 before and thought I would find a download link at this location:

But only the Office versions for Macintosh are available:

What if you use Windows?


For Windows, we have to download the Office Deployment Tool (ODT) that will, in turn, allow us to download Office 2016 files to a shared folder from which we can deploy the application itself by a variety of methods (Group Policy with a simple installation script, System Center Configuration Manager, etc.).

So I create a shared folder on a server, download the ODT and extract the tool to that location.

This is what the downloaded executable looks like:

I extract the content to this folder, shared with the following UNC path:


Besides the setup.exe file, we have a sample .xml file that I have already modified and renamed. I have also created a subfolder named "SAC" that will hold the downloaded Office 2016 files.

Note: SAC means "semi annual channel". The concept of channel is related to the frequency at which Microsoft releases updates for the Office product. Enterprise customers may not want too frequent updates as the possible changes may affect productivity. This article explains the options in greater detail (and instructions for configuring the deployment folders):

Deploy Office 365 ProPlus from a local source

I need to say a word on the configuration .xml file. This file defines certain deployment parameters such as the deployment location, the version of Office 2016 to be deployed, the Office components we may want to exclude (optional), and the frequency of updates. Below is the content of my configuration.xml file:

  <Add SourcePath="\\ADCONNECT1\shared\O365\SAC" OfficeClientEdition="64" Channel="Broad"> 
   <Product ID="O365BusinessRetail"> 
     <Language ID="en-us" /> 
     <ExcludeApp ID="Access" />    
     <ExcludeApp ID="Publisher" />
  <Updates Enabled="TRUE" UpdatePath="" Channel="Broad" />  
  <Display Level="None" AcceptEULA="TRUE" />

These articles provide additional information on the options mentioned above:

Configuration options for the Office 2016 Deployment Tool

Product IDs that are supported by the Office Deployment Tool for Click-to-Run

Overview of update channels for Office 365 ProPlus

But I still do not have the Office 2016 installation files!

So how do I procure those files?

At the command prompt, I run setup.exe in download mode, referencing my .xml configuration file:

This is the example given in the Microsoft documentation:

\\server\share\O365\setup.exe /download \\server\share\O365\config-group1-SAC.xml

In my case, it looks like this:

Note: you can click on the image to enlarge.

The files should begin downloading to the location designated in the .xml file, for example:


Note: if problems are encountered, you can consult the log file in the %temp% directory.


We have made some progress. The Office 2016 (ProPlus) installation files have been copied to one of our local servers. But how do we install Office on our client machines?

There are a number of options including System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM). I will use a more simple method that may or may not be sufficient for your production environment: software deployment via Group Policy.

First, I enter the following command in notepad.exe and save it as a .bat file:

start /wait \\adconnect1\shared\O365\setup.exe /configure \\adconnect1\shared\O365\config-group-SAC.xml

Of course, you would adjust the script to match your own environment (changing server names and so forth). The script references both the setup.exe file and the .xml file for customization.

Next, I add the batch file to the the scripts section of a GPO to be linked to the OU (organisational unit) containing the user's client machine. One remark: I will assume that the reader is capable of creating and managing a GPO and will not review that process here.

So, I open the GPO for editing, go to the "Scripts (Startup/Shutdown)" section and click on the "Show Files" button:

Once this window is open, I can copy the batch file from its current location to the startup folder:

But that is not enough. I still have to click on the Add button and then browse to the startup folder (opened by default) to add the script to the GPO:

If the GPO is linked to the OU correctly and I restart the client machine (it may require a second reboot), the script should install Office 2016 ProPlus, taking into account the customization settings in the .xml file. Besides the presence of Office icons in the start menu, we should see entries in the Event Viewer (Application log) related to the installation. If Office does not install correctly, the entries here may be useful for troubleshooting:

What happens next?

I log on as user Alan Reid and open Word (we'll see Outlook later). Almost immediately, I am prompted to "Activate Office". I assume it will attempt to associate this copy of Office with the license I purchased. So I enter the email address of Alan Reid (although not shown in the screenshot below) and click on "Next"...

"Alan Reid" is prompted to sign in:

And encounters this error:

As I suspected, I cannot use Office 2016 ProPlus until I assign the logged on user a proper license. 

So I connect to my Office 365 tenant and go to the "Active users" section where I assign the license to Alan Reid:




Now when I connect as Alan Reid, and open Word, the product activates without further ado.

As far as Outlook 2016 goes, autodiscover functions perfectly and configures the mailbox of Alan Reid without a problem:





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