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Select the Best Method for Deploying Office 2003

Published: October 25, 2005
By Douglas Steen
Douglas Steen

Why Deploy Office 2003 with Your New Operating System?

In most organizations, when information technology (IT) staff deploy a new desktop environment, they usually take the opportunity to update the applications on the desktop to the latest organizational standard. The reason for this is simple: Standardized desktop environments are easier to support, manage, and maintain than environments that are not standardized.

So, you most likely want to deploy Microsoft Office 2003 with your new operating system deployment. But what’s the best method for doing so? You have two options:

  • Integrated in the operating system images

  • After the operating system images are deployed

The method you choose is based on the needs of your organization. However, before you can determine the best method for your organization, you must decide where the Office 2003 source installation files will reside.

Select the Location of the Office 2003 Installation Files

In large deployments, the location of the installation files plays a large role in the success (or failure) of your standardized desktop deployment. Use one of the following image deployment methods to determine the best location for your Office 2003 installation files:

  • Local installation source (LIS)

  • Administrative installation point (AIP)

Table 1 lists the advantages and disadvantages of these methods.

Table 1. Image Deployment Methods and How They Use the Operating System Images

Method

Advantages

Disadvantages

LIS

Network traffic during installation is reduced, because the installation source is local.

Adding and removing Office 2003 features is easier, because the installation source is local.

Additional disk space is required on the local computer to store the installation source.

Any updates or service packs must be "chained" during installation or run as a post-installation process. (See Distributing Office 2003 Product Updates.)

AIP

Less disk space is required on the client computer, because the installation source is stored on a share.

Network traffic increases during installation, because the installation source resides on a network share.

Adding and removing Office 2003 features can be more difficult, because the installation source resides on a share and may not be easily accessible (for example, to laptop users).

The Local Installation Source Method

In the LIS method, you install Office 2003 from a CD-ROM, a CD-ROM image (such as an .iso file), or a copy of the CD-ROM contents on a network share rather than from an AIP. Setup caches the compressed cabinet files on the local computer in the Msocache folder, then performs the installation from that location. After installation is complete, you can keep the Msocache folder, which contains compressed cabinet files to reduce the amount of disk space consumed. In addition, the folder is hidden, reducing the possibility that users will accidentally delete it.

The LIS method does not contain a complete copy of the CD source but is a result of the features installed from the CD or compressed CD source on the network. By comparison, the AIP is a complete copy of the CD source (created by running the Setup /a command).

The Msocache folder does not always reside on the disk drive with the greatest amount of free space. If your computer has an NTFS file system drive and a FAT file system drive (each with at least 1.5 GB of free space), the Msocache folder will reside on the NTFS file system drive.

With a local source always available, you don’t need the original network source or CD-ROM to install features on demand, add new features, or apply updates (assuming the LIS contains a cache of the entire CD source). Similarly, because the source is local to the computer, the updates are also cached locally in the local installation store. For all these benefits, the LIS method is the recommended method for installing Office 2003.

Note:  For more information about creating your LIS, see Taking Advantage of a Local Installation Source and Local Source Makes Patching Easier in the Microsoft Office Online Deployment Center.

The Administrative Installation Point Method

Some of the reasons for selecting the AIP method include:

  • The client computers you’re targeting have insufficient disk space to store the local installation source used in the LIS method.

  • You want to use Group Policy to install Office 2003.

  • You want to "slipstream" updates into the source (so that new installations receive the latest updates during the initial installation).

In the AIP method, you install Office 2003 from a shared folder known as the administrative installation point. You create the AIP by running Setup with the /a command-line option and specifying a Microsoft Windows installer package (.msi file)?for example, setup.exe /a pro11.msi. (The Setup /a command requires volume licensing agreement media and is not supported for OEM or retail versions of Office 2003.)

After starting Setup, you need to provide the following information to create the AIP:

  • Your organization’s volume license product key

  • Your organization’s name

  • The installation location (Note that installation requires approximately 550 MB of disk space.)

Note:  To learn more about creating your AIP, see How to Create an Administrative Installation Point in the Microsoft Office Online Deployment Center.

After you create your AIP, users can install Office 2003 from the AIP manually or automatically through Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003, Microsoft Active Directory directory service, Group Policy, or other methods.

Deploy Office 2003 in the Operating System Images

When you deploy Office 2003 with the operating system, it is recommended that you use the LIS method for two reasons: First, because it is easier when the installation source is in the same image as the operating system, and second, the AIP image may be too large to include in your operating system image. In addition to all the advantages the LIS method offers, you can automate the installation of Office 2003 after you configure the operating system (but before you create your image) to ensure that the appropriate features are installed and configured according to your organization’s desktop standards. Remember: You can’t perform a complete installation from LIS, but you can make updates to the existing installation. The recommendation is to make Office 2003 a core application in your deployment.

The Microsoft Solution Accelerator for Business Desktop Deployment (BDD) provides guidance on how to deploy operating system images. The Solution Accelerator for BDD Enterprise Edition discusses how to use SMS 2003, the SMS 2003 Operating System Deployment (OSD) Feature Pack, Lite Touch Installation (LTI), and Zero Touch Installation (ZTI) to deploy your operating system images. The Solution Accelerator for BDD Standard Edition discusses how to use logon scripts, Group Policy, CD-ROMs, and LTI to deploy your operating system images. In addition, the Core Applications Feature Team Guide for the Solution Accelerator for BDD Enterprise Edition and Core Applications Feature Team Guide for the Solution Accelerator for BDD Standard Edition discuss how to incorporate Office 2003 into your deployment process.

When you include Office 2003 in your operating system image, certain issues can arise. These issues include:

  • Globalization and language-related issues. When you include Office 2003 in your operating system image, you need to ensure that you include the language and globalization version of Office 2003 that matches the operating system image. Localized and multilingual versions of Office 2003 are available. For example, you would probably not want to include a localized French version of Office 2003 in an English-language operating system image. The multilingual versions of Office 2003 can help you reduce the number of operating system images required in your organization, especially when combined with multilingual versions of Microsoft Windows XP. For this reason, deploy multilingual versions of Office 2003.

    Note:  Multilingual versions of Office 2003 are available only in volume license purchases. For more information, see Microsoft Volume Licensing Program.

  • Licensing issues. Ensure that your Office 2003 licensing supports incorporation into your operating system images. In other words, make certain that before you include Office 2003 in your operating system image, you verify that you have sufficient licenses to do so. For example, your organization might have a volume licensing agreement. If your organization has globalization or licensing issues, take one of the following actions:

    • Optimize the operating system images so that you have one image that includes Office 2003 and another image that does not include Office 2003 (or includes the appropriate globalization version).

    • Deploy Office 2003 after you deploy the operating system.

Ultimately, if your organization’s desktop standard includes Office 2003, the LIS method is the best way to deploy it. After you’ve freed the space that the LIS method requires, resolved the globalization and language-related issues, and satisfied the licensing requirements, you can deploy your standard in a way that will be easy to manage and maintain.

Deploy Office 2003 After the Operating System Is Deployed

If you choose to install Office 2003 after you have deployed the operating system, you can use any of the methods described in the appropriate Solution Accelerator for BDD edition’s Core Applications Feature Team Guide. In addition, you can use the LIS or AIP method for installing Office 2003.

When you deploy Office 2003 after you deploy your operating systems, you can separate installation of the products. For example, you can use the AIP method if some of your client computers have insufficient disk space, then use the LIS method for the client computers that have sufficient disk space. Also, if you have globalization, language, or licensing issues, post-operating system deployment allows you to address those issues at whatever level of granularity you desire.

Standardize Desktop Applications and Reap the Benefits

Deploy Office 2003 in your operating system image using the LIS method whenever possible. However, when you are unable to use LIS for all the client computers in your organization, use a combination of the LIS and AIP methods to install Office 2003 after you install your operating system. Either way, start deploying Office 2003 with your operating systems to ensure that your desktops have a consistent and maintainable configuration. Start today, and with the next deployment cycle, you’ll be reaping the benefits of a standardized desktop environment.

For More Information

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About the Author
Douglas Steen is an architect, consultant, technical trainer, and author who focuses on Microsoft products and integration technologies. Doug has been designing and creating hardware and software solutions since 1975 and has written several training courses, books, and online articles. Most recently, Doug wrote most of the IIS 6.0 Deployment Guide for Microsoft Press, a series of white papers for Microsoft about Active Directory, and portions of the Solution Accelerator for Business Desktop Deployment Enterprise Edition. You can contact Doug at dsteen@msn.com.


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