Learn how to use the Office Deployment Tool and a self-extracting .exe file to enable users to install Office 365 ProPlus from an internal company portal.

 (Today's post is courtesy of Curtis Sawin, Microsoft consultant focused on Office client deployments.)

One of the ways to deploy Office 365 ProPlus is to have your users sign in to the Office 365 portal, go to the software page, and then select Install.  This self-service method is designed to provide flexibility, unlock consumerization of IT scenarios (such as installing Office 365 ProPlus at home), and is a key enabler of the ability to install Office 365 ProPlus on up to 5 devices. However, keep in mind that users must be local admins on their computers to install Office.

Some organizations have technical or business constraints that prohibit their users from signing in to the Office 365 portal from outside of their corporate network.  A question we often receive is “Can I have users install Office 365 ProPlus from my own portal, rather than from the Office 365 portal?”

This scenario is certainly possible using the Office Deployment Tool.  There are just a few easy steps you’ll need to take to reproduce the experience of installing Office 365 ProPlus from the Office 365 portal:

  1. Download the Office Deployment Tool
  2. Create an XML file with instructions on how to install Office 365 ProPlus
  3. Create a self-extracting executable (.exe) file that runs the Office Deployment Tool along with the xml file

After you create and test your self-extracting .exe file, publish it to your company portal.

Here are some more details for those steps.

Step 1: Download the Office Deployment Tool

Download the Office Deployment Tool from the Microsoft Download Center. Then, double-click officedeployment.exe to get the two files you need -- setup.exe (this is the Office Deployment Tool) and configuration.xml.

Step 2: Create an XML file with the instructions to install Office 365 ProPlus. 

The Office Deployment Tool comes with a sample configuration.xml fie. You use the xml file to tell the Office Deployment Tool how to install Office 365 ProPlus. 

The below XML file will perform the following:

  • Install the 32-bit, English version of Office 365 ProPlus
  • Enable automatic updates directly from Office 365
  • Show all user interface screens during the installation (for example, progress screens and error messages)
  • Creates a log file in the %temp% folder


<Configuration>
   <Add OfficeClientEdition="32">  
        <Product ID="O365ProPlusRetail">    
            <Language ID="en-us" />  
        </Product>
   </Add>
   <Updates Enabled="TRUE" />
   <Display Level="Full" AcceptEULA="TRUE" />
   <Logging Name="OfficeSetup.txt" Path="%temp%" />
</Configuration>

 

Check out Reference for Click-to-Run configuration.xml file for all the options you can configure in the xml file.

Note that there is no SourcePath attribute in the xml file.  This means that the Office Deployment Tool will first look in the current folder to find the Office 365 ProPlus source files.  Since the source files aren't there, then the Office Deployment Tool will get the files directly from Office 365 across the Internet. The advantage of that is users don't have to be on the local network to get to the source files.  They just need to be connected to the Internet.

You can name the xml file anything you want. For example, InstallFromCloud.xml.

Step 3: Create a self-extracting executable (.exe) file

There are several tools and methods that can be used to do this.  For instance, iexpress.exe is included with Windows operating systems and can build self-extracting .exe files.  Attached at the bottom of this blog post is a 2 minute video that demonstrates how to do this using WinRAR.

Include the following files in your self-extracting .exe file:

  • Setup.exe
  • Your xml file (for example, InstallFromCloud.xml)

The command to run when the files are done extracting is setup.exe /configure InstallFromCloud.xml

When completed, you have a very small file (about 500kb) that will start an installation of Office 365 ProPlus.  With the small file size, this provides a very portable means to start a cloud-based install of Office 365 ProPlus from anywhere.

Lastly, note that if you have implemented any client access policies to limit access to Office 365 services outside of the corporate network, access to use Office 365 ProPlus will be blocked as well.