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I work for a managed service provider (MSP), and we have a varied client base. The availability of many customization options is really quite useful as it speeds up the deployment of devices.
Download the Office Deployment Tool
Let's assume I have been handed a new laptop to set up for a client, straight out of the box.
First, download the ODT.
Once extracted, you will see a setup.exe file and some example XML files.
ODT configuration file
Let's take a look at the example files. Open up configuration-Office365-64.xml
The file contains a <configuration> section. Inside this section, there is an <add> section.
The ODT reads the XML file and performs the actions in <add>. In this case, it is adding Office Client Edition x64. Inside the <add> section, there is a <product> section. You can have multiple product sections; this example file adds both 365 Pro Plus and Visio.
If we look in the Office 2021 Enterprise XML file, we can see that we are installing Office 2021 Volume license edition, as well as Project and Visio.
We can also see a <remove> tag. This tells the ODT to remove any other Office program or version it finds installed.
As I mentioned, I work for an MSP, and we have clients who use various versions of Office: Volume License, Pro Plus, and Business Retail. All of these configurations can be created in an XML file and saved separately for use when building a machine. For most, though, a general config will be sufficient. You may want to customize the example files, though. As you can see here, the Office x64 XML we looked at originally will deploy Skype for Business and OneDrive for Business.
In the example below, we are installing Business Retail x64 on the semiannual update channel. We are excluding Groove (OneDrive for Business) and Lync (Skype for Business), pre-accepting the EULA, and setting the Office XML defaults in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint so that users are not prompted to choose.
Below is an example of a client that uses Volume Licensing and requires the French language to be available in Office. We can deploy the key to save the user needing to enter the key to activate Office.
In this example, we specified a local folder. The clients spend a lot of time in low-bandwidth environments, and it is useful to keep the setup files locally on the device.
There is a detailed document on the options available for use with the ODT here.
There is, however, an even better option. Enter the Office Configuration website. There is a wizard-based tool that takes you through each section of the XML file, and lets you export a perfectly formatted file at the end with all the options you could possibly require.
See if you can decipher what options I have set.
Deploying Office with the ODT
Once you have your XML file, there are two commands you need to know to deploy Office.
setup.exe /download <configuration file> setup.exe /configure <configuration file>
The download mode of the ODT will download the files required for the relevant programs in the <add> section of your XML file. If you have not specified a path in the XML file, it will download to the folder from which you run the tool. The download option does not show any progress.
It may be useful to use this option to download the files to a network share and use that as a local source. It could also be useful if you want to download and keep a specific version of Office that may no longer be available from the Office Content Delivery Network.
Using the configure switch will tell the ODT to download, install, and configure the products specified in the XML file. If you have specified a source location, it will look there for the installation files.
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Are you using the Office Deployment Tool in your organization to deploy Office? Please share your experiences with Microsoft's ODT in a comment below.