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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.