Unattended Installation of Office 2016

With the release of Office 2016, Visio 2016 and Project 2016, many will want to start thinking about their upgrade. Office 2016 at present is only available in the Click-to-Run format but if the Office 365 Community is to be believed there will be an .msi based installation coming for volume license customers on October 1st.

As it happens, in Office 2016, the Click-to-Run experience is actually quite nice compared to previous instances of it and while I’ve been running the preview builds of Office 2016, I certainly haven’t seen any issues with performance so I see no reason not to use Click-to-Run now given that if you ever decide to remove Office from the machine, it will leave you with a cleaner slate.

This post is going to cover how to build an offline source and perform an unattended installation of Office 2016. This will work for Configuration Manager customers as well as customers using a manual installation process. In order to be able to perform an offline installation of Office 2016, you are going to need two things. The Office 2016 Deployment Tool and you are going to need an offline source for Office 2016. If you don’t have this already, you can generate it using the tool but I was able to get the offline source from the MSDN .iso download.

Download the Deployment Tool

First things first, go to http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=49117 and get the Office 2016 Deployment Tool. The installer for this doesn’t actually install an application but merely unpacks a setup.exe file and a sample configuration.xml file. I unpacked the setup.exe file to a folder on the root of my drive for easy access.

Within this folder, create sub-folders for each of the Office products you want to configure. In my case, I am doing all three: Office, Project and Visio and once you have created these folders, copy the setup.exe file to each sub-folder.

Create the Configuration Files

Once you’ve got the sample configuration.xml file, you can use this, along with the reference at https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj219426.aspx for generating your custom configuration file. I have created three files: one for Office, one for Project and another for Visio, all of which I have included below to save you some time.

You will notice that in the Product section of these files, I have a value called PIDKEY. This PIDKEY value is where you provide your product key if you are using one. If you are using per-user licensing then you need to remove the entire PIDKEY value.

I have also opted to exclude Access, InfoPath and Publisher from my installation as I don’t have an need for these applications. A full list of applications you can exclude is available at the TechNet reference page. Another option which you may find useful is the Display Level. This can be set between Full and None. I have opted for None to make this a silent installation but you could opt for Full. Full will present the user with the UI for the installation but they will not be prompted to answer any questions. This allows the user to track the progress of the installation if you are trying to perform a passive install rather than a silent one.

Save each of the products configuration files in their relevant directory. It is worth noting that you are not obliged to name the configuration file configuration.xml and you can save this as whatever you want to call it. This allows you to maintain multiple configurations for different sets of users who require access to different Office applications.

Office 2016 Pro Plus Configuration File

<Configuration>

  <Add OfficeClientEdition="32">
    <Product ID="O365ProPlusRetail" PIDKEY="XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX">
      <Language ID="en-US" />
      <ExcludeApp ID="Access" />
      <ExcludeApp ID="InfoPath" />
      <ExcludeApp ID="Publisher" />
      <ExcludeApp ID="SharePointDesigner" />
    </Product>
  </Add>

  <Updates Enabled="True" />

  <Display Level="None" AcceptEULA="True" />

  <Property Name="AutoActivate" Value="1" />
  <Property Name="ForceAppShutdown" Value="True" />

</Configuration>

 Project 2016 Professional Configuration File

<Configuration>

  <Add OfficeClientEdition="32">
    <Product ID="ProjectProRetail" PIDKEY="XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX">
      <Language ID="en-US" />
    </Product>
  </Add>

  <Updates Enabled="True" />

  <Display Level="None" AcceptEULA="True" />

  <Property Name="AutoActivate" Value="1" />
  <Property Name="ForceAppShutdown" Value="True" />

</Configuration>

 Visio 2016 Professional Configuration File

<Configuration>

  <Add OfficeClientEdition="32">
    <Product ID="VisioProRetail" PIDKEY="XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX">
      <Language ID="en-US" />
    </Product>
  </Add>

  <Updates Enabled="True" />

  <Display Level="None" AcceptEULA="True" />

  <Property Name="AutoActivate" Value="1" />
  <Property Name="ForceAppShutdown" Value="True" />

</Configuration>

 Create an Offline Source

With your configuration files created and saved in your product specific sub-folders, we can proceed with creating the office source.

If you have the .iso media from MSDN or elsewhere, to do this, mount the .iso file and locate the office folder on it. Copy this office folder into the sub-folder for your specific product and then repeat this with the media for the remaining products. You should end up with three folders, one for Office, Visio and Project and inside each of these folders, you will have a folder named office, the .xml configuration file and the setup.exe file.

If you don’t have the media, we now need to download the content for offline use. Open an elevated command prompt and change the working directory to the directory where your setup.exe is located. From here, type the command setup.exe /download configuration.xml. This will start the download for the Click-to-Run components for offline use. Once it has completed, you need to repeat the process for any remaining Office products you are using.

Perform an Unattended Installation

With the configuration files and offline source ready, you can now perform an unattended installation. To do this, you simply use the command setup.exe /configure configuration.xml from the working directory containing the files. You don’t need to specify the path to the configuration file as you have put it in the same directory as the setup.exe file and you don’t need to specify the path to the offline source because it will automatically look for this in the office folder from where you launched the setup.exe file.

If you are deploying Office using Configuration Manager then you would simply copy the folders for each of your products to package source path and create applications for them within Configuration Manager. Clients will download the package source to the local cache as it does for any normal application prior to performing the installation.

Update on Product IDs

After publishing this post, I noticed that my test machine wasn’t accepting the licence key I included in the .xml file. This turned out to be because the media I used from MSDN contained not O365ProPlusRetail Product ID but instead ProPlusRetail. My recommendation here would be to perform a test installation on a test machine first to check the Product ID which gets installed from your media (if you are using any) so that you can make sure you are targeting the correct Product ID.

After updating my .xml file to use the correct Product ID, the installation started automatically entering the product key and automatically activating the products.