This is an excerpt from our article, Use Group Policy Software Installation to deploy the 2007 Office system:

Although administrators can use Group Policy Software Installation to deploy the 2007 Office system to computers in small organizations, there are limitations to using this approach. It is important to carefully consider these issues as you determine the deployment method that best meets your deployment requirements. These limitations include:

·         Difficulties with scheduling installation, consistently managing network bandwidth, and providing feedback on the status of the installation. If your organization needs to provide these capabilities, consider using Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 R2. For more information, see Deploying the 2007 Microsoft Office System with Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 R2.

·         Limited scalability. Some difficulties might occur during Group Policy Software Installation deployment of 2007 Office suites to more than 200 computers simultaneously; this depends largely on network bandwidth availability.

·         Limited ability to customize features or user settings before installation of the 2007 Office system. Administrators cannot use a Setup customization file (.MSP) created with the Office Customization Tool (OCT) to apply customizations for initial deployment. These customizations must be made in the Config.xml file.

Note: Not all of the customization provided in an .MSP file can be provided with a Config.xml file. Administrators may use a script to apply an .MSP file after initial deployment. Since the installation source cannot be modified, nor can an .MSP file be deployed, administrators must use an alternate method to update the clients for the 2007 Office system service packs or other updates. One possible approach is to use Microsoft Windows Server Update Services 3.0 (WSUS 3.0) for updates.

For information about WSUS, see Microsoft Windows Server Update Services 3.0 Overview and Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Started with Microsoft Windows Server Update Services 3.0 on the Microsoft TechNet Web site.

·         Group Policy Software Installation can only be used for per-computer installations for the 2007 Office system.

·         Challenging to maintain, because updates must be applied to all client computers. This can be done by using a logon script or other delivery method. It is not possible to use the Updates folder to apply security updates or service packs for initial deployment of the Group Policy object (GPO).

If you manage large numbers of clients in a complex or rapidly changing environment, Microsoft Systems Management Server is the recommended method for installing and maintaining the 2007 Office system in medium- and large-sized organizations. Microsoft Systems Management Server offers more sophisticated functionality, including inventory, scheduling, and reporting features. For information about using Microsoft Systems Management Server to deploy the 2007 Office system, see Using Systems Management Server 2003 to deploy the 2007 Office system.

As an alternative to using Group Policy Software Installation, administrators can also use Group Policy to assign computer startup scripts to deploy the 2007 Office system. For more information, see Use Group Policy to assign computer startup scripts for 2007 Office deployment.

- Andrea Weiss