Many of the default install options for Microsoft Office 2013 can result in unnecessary calls to the Help Desk in a managed IT environment. In this article, I’ll discuss some of the options you can use in Group Policy to streamline your deployment and make Office more familiar to Enterprise end users when they run 2013 applications.

When I originally began testing Office 2013 for deployment and started deploying it to pilot users, I quickly discovered a number of new features, options, and configuration pop-ups that needed to be configured before our wider rollout of the software. Rolling out the software to a larger audience of users required some additional customization beyond the default install so we wouldn’t be inundated with support requests. I hope some of the things I’ve learned can be helpful to you.

Install the ADMX files ^

Before we can start setting up our policies, we’ll need to download and install the Administrative Template (ADMX) files for Office 2013. You can download either the 32-bit or the 64-bit file because the ADMX files are identical inside both downloads. Run the executable to extract the files and then place the contents of the ADMX folder in C:\Windows\PolicyDefinitions\ of your management station (if you’re not using the Group Policy Central Store) or \\yourdomain.local\SYSVOL\yourdomain.local\Policies\PolicyDefinitions\ (if you are using the Central Store).

Extracted ADMX and ADML files for Office 2013

Extracted ADMX and ADML files for Office 2013

Improve the first-time user experience ^

In a default install of Office 2013, a number of unnecessary pop-ups appear the first time an end user runs an Office application. Since these can result in misconfiguration or support requests, we want to pre-configure these for end users.

The first pop-up the user will see is the “First things first” pop-up that will ask them to configure updates.

First things first pop-up during first run of an Office 2013 application

“First things first” pop-up during first run of an Office 2013 application

Because IT is going to be managing the system updates, we can disable this screen. Go to User Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Microsoft Office 2013 > Privacy Trust Center. Set “Disable Opt-in Wizard on first run” to Enabled.

Disable Opt-in Wizard on first run set to Enabled in Group Policy

“Disable Opt-in Wizard on first run” set to Enabled in Group Policy

Next, we’ll need to disable the First Run Movie. The First Run Movie is a short narrated video that runs the first time an Office application in the suite is opened. I don’t think it necessarily adds anything to the experience of running an Office application for the first time, especially if your users already have experience with the 2013 apps or use multiple computers and have to click past the video every time they move to a different computer.

Microsoft Office 2013 First Run Movie

Microsoft Office 2013 First Run Movie

Go to User Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Microsoft Office 2013 > First Run. Set both “Disable First Run Movie” and “Disable Office First Run on application boot” to Enabled.

Disable First Run Movie and Disable Office First Run on application boot set to Enabled

“Disable First Run Movie” and “Disable Office First Run on application boot” set to Enabled

Make Office more familiar ^

One of the new features in Office 2013 is the Office Start screen. The Office Start screen gives users access to their most-recently accessed documents as well as a variety of templates for the application they are using. Previous versions of Office did not include this feature. You may want to disable it so that the experience end users have is similar to what they’re used to using.

Office Start screen in Word 2013

Office Start screen in Word 2013

This particular option can be configured for either all Office 2013 applications or for specific applications. To configure it for all Office applications, go to User Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Microsoft Office 2013 > Miscellaneous > Disable the Office Start screen for all Office applications and set the option to Enabled.

Office Start screen disabled in Word 2013

Office Start screen disabled in Word 2013

You can also configure the option on an application-by-application basis by going to User Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Microsoft $ApplicationName 2013 > Miscellaneous > Disable the Office Start screen for $ApplicationName and setting the option to Enabled.

In the next part of this series, I’ll cover how you can improve the default security in Office 2013 using Group Policy.

8 Comments
  1. huda 6 years ago

    Please I ask you my answer, I faced the same situation when I opened my computer received a message saying I arrange your files and then found all my files on the desktop is in the favorite, by searching I found my file and when I open it appeared to me the above message first thing first and chose the third option, because I thought its Virus and after that I Receive four message if you need I send to you .
    Please can you clear to me what happened?

    • Author

      Huda - I'm not sure I totally understand the problem you're having. Please start a new post in the Forum and include screenshots of the messages you're seeing and we'll take a look.

  2. kosta 6 years ago

    Hi, I just wanted to clarify something.

    Does "\\yourdomain.local\SYSVOL\yourdomain.local\Policies" would be something like

    \\Fabrikam\sysvol\farbrikam.com\policies\? I'm asking because i'm not sure if central store means the policies on the domain controller or it's something special I create.

    I used the first method for my computer locally but after formatting it couple of times I've noticed I need to reduo it every single time or else the policy wouldn't apply on domain joined computers.

    Now I wish to make it work on the domain controller so it wouldn't depend on my workstation and every IT tech would be able to use it but when I go to the location mentioned above and reach the policies, the folder "policy definitions" does not exist. I did see it locally on the domain controller as well just like on my workstation but I'm starting to think that gpo central store is something else.

    • Author

      Yes, you would need to replace "yourdomain.local" with the name of your AD domain. You should only need to copy the files over to C:\Windows\PolicyDefinitions\ once per management station. If you want everyone to have access without having to install the ADMX file on each station, you would need to enable the Group Policy Central Store.

  3. Kosta 6 years ago

    Thanks you very much kyle!

    Just to make it clear, even if i'll do the process on the DC itself by copying the admx files to c:\windows\policydefinitnions\

    It still won't be centrally managed unless i'll create the management store right?

    I did check your guide, never used updated admx files so didn't have a reason to create the store.

    • Author

      If you copy the ADMX files into C:\Windows\PolicyDefinitions\ on the DC, you'll only have access to them when logged into that DC's console or over an RDP session. You'd have to create the Central Store to be able to use them from any management station. If/When you create the Central Store, just make sure that you also put all the other ADMX files you need there also for Windows, other Office versions, etc.

  4. kushal 6 years ago

    Kyle Beckman  thanks for the article .

    How I do import the custom power point templates , please help

    • Author

      That's really outside the scope of this article. Honestly, I've never relied on updating the built-in PowerPoint templates on any systems I support. Our marketing department updated them way too often for me to keep them updated on computers also. We would always distribute the current versions via a file share or SharePoint.

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