Leverage Office 2003 Resource Kit's Custom Installation Wizard to speed Office 2003 deployments

Learn to create MST files to shorten the Office 2003 deployment cycle.

Deploying Microsoft Office 2003 on a single machine isn't that difficult, but it can take some time. Just think how much more difficult when you have to deploy installing Microsoft Office 2003 can be on dozens of machine. To make things easier, Microsoft created the Custom Installation Wizard (CIW). Here's how it works.

What it does

The Custom Installation Wizard lets you create Windows Installer Transform files, or MST files for Office 2003. The files work with the original MSI installation package so that you don't need to modify it. It's called a transform file because it "transforms" the original MSI into your desired package.

In this way you are able to create custom installations for different groups of users. For example, an accounting group might install Access, while an administrative assistant group may not need it or PowerPoint. Different users, in addition, will likely require different security settings. To wit: VBA support may be allowed for IT staff, but not for assistants.

When creating a custom MST, you can specify additional setup files to chain, such as adding a setup.ini file and the result of an Office Profile Wizard (another Office Resource Kit tool) to the Office 2003 installation.

Do not use previous versions of the CIW, such as the Office XP version, for Office 2003. You'll need the new version to access new settings this release has in Outlook 2003 and in security features.

Why you need it

The Custom Installation Wizard tool is valuable when you have many Office 2003 installations that require specific settings. Obviously, it's easier to make one or more master files that will speed installation from a central administrative installation point or compressed CD image.

Download and installation

The Office 2003 Custom Installation Wizard is one of many tools in the Microsoft Office 2003 Resource Kit (ORK). You must download the entire resource kit (only 7.3 MB) from Microsoft's Web site. However, you can then perform a custom installation and only install the desired utilities.

To install, double-click Ork.exe. Accept the license agreement. The Setup screen will give you three choices:

  • Install Now (with the default installation)
  • Complete Installation
  • Custom Installation

If you only want to install the Custom Installation Wizard, choose Custom Installation. On the same screen, accept the default installation directory, or enter your own.

Setup will start next unless you choose Custom Installation. If you do, the Advanced Customization screen will appear. The format for choosing options is similar to an Office 2003 install. Drill down into each tool and select Run From My Computer, Run All From My Computer, or Not Available. Click Next to confirm your choices, then start installation.

Once installation is complete, the ORK tools will be available under Start | All Programs | Microsoft Office | Microsoft Office Tools | Microsoft Office 2003 Office Resource Kit. Figure A shows the result of installing the complete package.

Figure A

The ORK contains many useful tools, albeit buried deep in the Start menu.

Using the Custom Installation Wizard

Start the Wizard by selecting it from the Start menu. There are 24 configuration screens in the Wizard that walk you through just about every detail you could possibly configure. Depending upon your situation, not every screen will need to be changed. Further, note that you can click Finish any time. It's not necessary to set each screen.

In the first screen, set the location of the MSI file you will be transforming. This can be a file on the Office 2003 installation CD, i.e., D:\PRO11N.MSI. Next, choose to create a new MST file (you can also modify a previously created MST file in this step).

Now set the name and path of the new file, i.e., C:\OFC2003MST\defaultuser.mst. Note also that, beginning in this screen, a drop-down menu of all the Wizard's screens appears (Figure B). From here on, you can jump to any screen you need to access, rather than continually using the back or next buttons. Items not currently configurable are grayed out. For example, unless you opt to change the existing Outlook profile in screen 17, you won't be given the option to configure Exchange settings in screen 18.

Figure B

You can navigate through the Wizard using the drop-down menu that appears from Screen 4 on.

In the following screen, set the default path for installing Microsoft Office 2003 on the user's computer. The default installation path is <ProgramFiles>\Microsoft Office. You can also add the organization name here. But note that this is the only value that can't be overridden by a Setup.exe command line switch.

In the Remove Previous Versions screen, either accept the default behavior of removing all previous versions of Office found, or specify specific applications to remove or leave installed. By clicking the Details button, you can also specify which versions to remove. For example, highlight Word and click Details to include any or all previous versions of Word 95, 97, 2000, and 2002. While this is useful should you decide, say, to upgrade Word but not Outlook, make sure not to leave anything that will conflict with an Office 2003 install.

Next, the Set Feature Installation States allows you to modify every feature of Office 2003, just like a user would during a customized install. Except, in this case, you can also remove and lock features from later modifications. Features appear in the tree with the standard default installation options set. Drill down through the ones you need to change. The settings will vary depending on the feature chosen, from among:

  • Run From My Computer
  • Run All From My Computer
  • Run From Network
  • Run All From Network
  • Installed On First Use
  • Not Available
  • Not Available, Hidden, Locked

On this screen, a menu to the right allows you to set the following additional options per item or per branch in the tree:

  • Disable Run From Network
  • Disable Install On First Use
  • Do Not Migrate Previous Installation State

In the example shown in Figure C, Microsoft Access, as well as the Office Assistant and Microsoft Handwriting Component, have been set as Not Available, Hidden, Locked. In addition, the entire tree has been set to Do Not Migrate Previous Installation State.

Figure C

Setups based on this MST will not receive Access, the Office Assistant, or the Handwriting Component.

Further on in the Wizard, after you've entered a product key and created an Application Settings Profile, if desired, you can Change User Settings.

This detailed screen lets you configure any or all of the user options for all Office 2003 apps. For example, under Outlook 2003 you can change the default location for PST files. Needless to say, there are many choices here; I hope you won't need to change most of these.

The following screens highlight the level of detail you may address in a custom installation. For example, items 11-13 allow you to Add, Remove, and Modify other installation files, registry entries, and shortcuts, while Screen 14 allows you to set additional installation points to use if the default becomes unavailable.

With so many settings, what happens if one configuration set earlier in the Wizard conflicts with one set later? For example, Screen 15 permits you to change security settings. Some choices here are the same as those made in the User Settings dialog. If a setting conflicts, these rules of precedence come into play:

  1. Properties set on the Modify Setup Properties page override any corresponding options that you set on previous pages.
  2. However, if you also include a setup.ini file, those values take precedence over the MST file.
  3. Finally, command line options overrule any other conflicting values.

Remember, there is one exception to these rules: Entering the Company Name in the MST file takes precedence over both Setup.ini files and Setup.exe command line options.

For the purposes of this article, it's not necessary to discuss the remaining screens in detail. Configure them as needed. When you are done, click Finish. Your MST file is then saved to the location you specified. You can use the MST file as a template for other files and you can modify it as needed. To do so, start the Custom Installation Wizard and simply point it to this file.

Running Setup with an MST file

The following command line example orders Setup.exe to incorporate the MST file just created, and to run it in quiet mode (no user input or messages):

setup.exe TRANSFORMS=C:\OFC2003MST\defaultuser.mst /qb-

When you need more help

The Custom Installation Wizard is supposed to make Office 2003 setups easier. But for those nagging problems that make you want to throw up your hands, see Microsoft's Custom Installation Wizard Online instructions. This help file offers screen by screen descriptions, and includes helpful tips. At the Microsoft Office 2003 ORK site, you will also find detailed information about entering Setup.exe options and creating Setup.ini files.

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