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Deployment methods for Office 2013

Published: October 23, 2012

Summary: Provides an overview of different methods of deploying Office 2013, such as Group Policy, network share, and virtualization technologies.

Applies to:  Office 2013 | Office 365 ProPlus 

Audience: IT Professionals

There are several different ways that you can deploy Office, either the Windows Installer-based (MSI) version or the Click-to-Run version, to users in an organization. The method that you chose to deploy Office depends on the specific requirements and characteristics of your organization. For example, a small organization that only has several dozen users might deploy Office from a network share. But a larger organization that has hundreds or thousands of users might use a software distribution product, such as Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager, to deploy Office to users. You can also take advantage of virtualization technologies, such as Remote Desktop Services and Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V), to deploy Office.

In this article:

  • Versions of Office

  • Deployment methods for Office

  • Supported deployment methods for Office

Versions of Office

There are two versions of Office 2013 that you can deploy to a user's computer:

  • Windows Installer-based (MSI)

  • Click-to-Run

Windows Installer (MSI) is the traditional Setup architecture for installing Office products and languages. It is the same Setup architecture that is used in Office 2010 and Office 2007. Office Standard 2013 is an example of a Windows Installer-based version of Office.

Click-to-Run is a newer Setup architecture and is based on Microsoft streaming and virtualization technology. This technology reduces the time that is required to download, install, and update Office products and languages. Office 365 ProPlus is an example of a Click-to-Run version of Office. For more information, see Click-to-Run overview and Overview of Office 365 ProPlus.

noteNote:

You can also give users access to browser-based versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote by deploying Office Web Apps Server. For more information, see Deploy the infrastructure: Office Web Apps Server.

The following table provides a general comparison between the Windows Installer-based version and the Click-to-Run version of Office.

Comparison of Windows Installer-based version and Click-to-Run version of Office

Area of comparison Windows Installer (MSI) Click-to-Run

Licensing

Volume license

Subscription (for example, Office 365 ProPlus) and Retail (for example, Office Professional 2013 or Visio Standard 2013)

Activation

Device-based

User-based

Installation time

You have to wait until the whole Office product is installed before you can open and start to use the product. If you also have to apply any updates or service packs, the required installation time increases.

You can start to use Office before the product is completely installed. Under normal conditions, you can have Office installed and running in a few minutes.

Updates

Updates and service packs have to be downloaded and then applied. You can choose the updates and service packs that you want to apply to your Office installations. For example, you can decide that you want to apply all updates for Excel, but only apply critical updates for Word.

Click-to-Run products that you download and install from Microsoft are up-to-date from the start. You won’t have to download and apply any updates or service packs immediately after you install the products.

By default, Click-to-Run products are configured to be updated automatically over time. Users don't have to download or install updates. Updates are seamlessly applied in the background.

But, you can't specify which particular updates or service packs to apply to your Office installations. Also, you can't use standard update processes, such as Windows Update or Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), to apply updates.

Customizations

Highly customizable

For example, you can specify which products and features to install or specify where product shortcuts are displayed.

To customize installation settings, use the Office Customization Tool (OCT) and a config.xml file. For more information, see Office Customization Tool (OCT) reference for Office 2013 and Config.xml file reference for Office 2013.

Limited customization available

For example, you can't specify the drive on which to install Office.

Also, you can't specify which products and features to install. For example, you can't install Office without including Access.

Group Policy settings, by using the Office-specific Administrative Template files (ADMX/ADML)

Supported

Supported

Deployment methods for Office

The following are some common ways to deploy Office:

  • Local installation source

  • Network installation point

  • Group Policy computer startup script

  • Software distribution product

  • Virtualization technology

  • Standard desktop image

In most cases, these deployment methods work with both the Windows Installer-based version and the Click-to-Run version of Office. For more information about which deployment methods work with which version of Office, see Supported deployment methods for Office.

The method that you chose for deploying Office depends on the specific requirements and characteristics of your organization. Some common factors that determine which deployment method is appropriate include the following:

  • Are users local administrators on their computers?  To install Office, users must be local administrators on their computers. You can use Group Policy computer startup scripts or a software distribution product to install Office if users are not local administrators on their computers.

  • How many users are you deploying Office to?  If you have to deploy Office to several hundred or more users, you can use a software distribution product to help automate the deployment of Office.

  • Do the client computers support the system requirements for Office?  If not, you can use the features of Remote Desktop Services to provide Office to users. For more information about system requirements, see System Requirements for Office 2013.

  • Where are users located?  If users are geographically dispersed, you want to make sure that users can install Office from a location that is near to them. For example, you can create network installation points of Office in each region or each branch office, depending on the network connectivity.

  • What other programs are installed on the client computers?  If there is potential conflict between a program that is already installed on the client computer and Office, you can use virtualization technologies, such as Remote Desktop Services and Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V).

You can also use multiple deployment methods together. For example, you can use a Group Policy computer startup script that installs Office from a network installation point.

The following sections provide brief overviews of each type of deployment method.

Local installation source

You can copy the appropriate Office product and language files to the local computer, and then run Setup from that local installation source. But, users must be local administrators on their computers to run the Office Setup program and install Office.

Network installation point

A common way to deploy Office is to create a network share and copy the Office product and language files to the network share. Users install Office by running Setup from this network installation point. You can simplify and automate the process for users by giving them a script or batch file to run. Users require only Read permissions to the network share.

Group Policy computer startup script

To deploy Office to specific computers, you can use a Group Policy computer startup script. You can also use a Group Policy startup script to install Office when users are not local administrators on their computers. The script runs when the computer starts, and before a user logs in to the computer. Because the startup script runs in the context of the Local System account, the script has the necessary permissions to install Office on the computer.

noteNote:

Use of Group Policy Software Installation to deploy Office is not supported.

Software distribution product

Some organizations use software distribution products, such as System Center Configuration Manager or Windows Intune, to deploy software to users and computers. A software distribution product is often used to install Office when users are not local administrators on their computers. Software distribution products also have advanced deployment, updating, and reporting capabilities that are helpful to medium-sized or large-sized organizations.

Virtualization technology

You can use virtualization technologies, such as Remote Desktop Services and Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V), to deploy Office. You can use virtualization technologies when users are not local administrators on their computers.

Remote Desktop Services, a role in Windows Server, provides a centralized server on which you can install Office. Users log on remotely to this centralized server to run Office. You can use Remote Desktop Services if the client computers in your organization do not meet the system requirements for installing Office. Also, a centralized installation of Office can be easier to manage and update.

ImportantImportant:

You can use only a Volume License edition of Office on a Remote Desktop Session Host server. Volume License editions are available only for Windows Installer-based versions of Office.

You can also use Remote Desktop Services with Hyper-V, another role in Windows Server, to deploy virtual desktops to users. A virtual desktop is like a standard desktop image. But, the user connects to the virtual desktop from over the network. A single Windows Server computer can support multiple virtual desktops that are running at the same time.

noteNote:
  • You can use either a Windows Installer-based version or a Click-to-Run version of Office on a virtual desktop. However, if you are using a Click-to-Run version of Office, the virtual desktop must be assigned to a single user.

  • We recommend that you test Office 2013 in your virtualized environments to determine its performance characteristics (for example, CPU utilization). Office automatically makes adjustments to improve performance when it detects that it is being run across a remote connection. If you use Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2, make sure that you apply this update to help performance.

App-V is a streaming and virtualization technology. App-V enables you to stream programs, such as Office, down on demand from a centralized server to a computer. All the information about the program is contained in an App-V package. You can use App-V by itself or together with System Center Configuration Manager to deploy and manage your programs by using App-V packages. App-V can also be used to deploy programs to virtual desktops.

Standard desktop image

Some organizations deploy new computers by using a standard desktop image that includes a pre-configured version of the operating system and programs, such as Office, already installed. The standard desktop image is deployed to all the computers in the organization so that all computers are configured identically. Software, such as the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) and System Center Configuration Manager, can help you automate the deployment of a standard desktop image.

Supported deployment methods for Office

The following table provides information about which deployment methods can be used with the Windows Installer-based version and Click-to-Run version of Office.

Supported deployment methods

Deployment method Windows Installer (MSI) Click-to-Run More information

Local installation source

Yes

Yes

For Windows Installer-based versions of Office, see Deploy Office 2013 from a local installation source.

Network installation point

Yes

Yes

Deploy Office 2013 from a network installation point

Group Policy computer startup script

Yes

Yes

Deploy Office 2013 by using Group Policy computer startup scripts

System Center Configuration Manager

Yes

Yes

System Center 2012 Configuration Manager

(Additional Office-specific information is currently not available.)

Windows Intune

Yes

Yes

Windows Intune

(Additional Office-specific information is currently not available.)

Remote Desktop Services

Yes

No

Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2008 R2

Remote Desktop Services Overview (Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2)

(Additional Office-specific information is currently not available.)

Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) 5.0 Service Pack 2

Yes

Yes

Earlier versions of App-V are not supported to deploy Office 2013.

How to deploy and manage Office 2013 on App-V 5.0

Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2012

Yes

Yes

Microsoft Deployment Toolkit

(Additional Office-specific information is currently not available.)