It’s likely you’ll be interested in deploying Office through IntelliMirror because Microsoft Office is one of the most popular applications in use today and because IntelliMirror can help you deploy applications across the enterprise with little or no support required and from a centralized location. Though Office XP is shipping now, Office 2000 is currently the more popular application. So for this Daily Feature, I’m going to explore the tools and methods available for deploying Office 2000 across the enterprise with IntelliMirror. In a future Daily Feature, I’ll cover deploying Office XP with IntelliMirror.

Need a review on application deployment with IntelliMirror?

For more information on application deployment and other features of IntelliMirror, read Jim Boyce’s previous Daily Drill Downs “What you need to know before implementing IntelliMirror” and “Automate your application deployment with IntelliMirror.”

Getting ready
Obviously, application deployment isn’t going to happen without planning and preparation. Even so, deploying most applications is relatively easy and requires a minimum of predeployment setup time. As I explained in “Automate your application deployment with IntelliMirror,” you can modify installation packages using one of several third-party applications or Microsoft Visual Studio. While you could deploy Microsoft Office using the same packaging applications, you don’t really need to. The Office Resource Kit (ORK) includes all the tools you’ll need to customize and prepare an Office package for deployment manually or through IntelliMirror.

If you don’t have a copy of the Office Resource Kit, you can get one from Microsoft’s Office Web site. You’ll find links to the Office 2000 and Office 97/98 Resource Kits along with the ORK for Office XP. The Office 2000 Resource Kit is only 8.9 MB, so it won’t take long to download.

Before you customize the installation, however, you need to install an administrative share, which contains the Office files. To create the share, open a command console in the root of the Office CD and type the command SETUP | A. Setup will prompt you for the CD key, organization name, and network location for the files, then copy the files to the share.

After Setup installs, make sure you apply the necessary permissions to this folder and share it so your users can access it. Keep in mind that users can install from the administrative share without IntelliMirror, if needed, but IntelliMirror provides the admin better manageability. Also, you can create a standard installation for all users, specifying common information, such as installation key and company information, but still provide customizable options for installation as needed.

Using the ORK
The ORK contains several tools for customizing and managing Microsoft Office, one of which, the Custom Installation Wizard (CIW), lets you customize the installation package for Microsoft Office. Using the wizard, you can specify the installation folder, control whether or not previous versions are removed, set and disable feature installation states, and perform other custom actions. The result of running the CIW is a transform MST file that you use in combination with the existing Windows Installer MSI file included with the application. The MST file defines the changes that will occur to the standard installation process when the user installs the application.

After installing the ORK on your server, you can start the CIW by clicking Start | Programs | Microsoft Office Tools | Microsoft Office 2000 Resource Kit Tools | Custom Installation Wizard. When you run the CIW, the wizard prompts you for the MSI file to open. Point the CIW to the Data1.msi file in the root of the administrative share. Then, as you move through the wizard, it will prompt you for the information needed to customize the installation. The information you need to provide includes:

  • Whether or not to create a new transform MST file or modify an existing one.
  • Where Office should be installed on the client’s computer (by default, it installs in Program Files\Microsoft Office).
  • How to handle removal of existing Office applications.
  • Which applications and components to install.
  • Other files to add during installation.
  • Registry entries to be added.
  • Application shortcuts to be created.
  • Additional available installation share replicas.
  • Outlook account profile settings and accounts/services.
  • Internet Explorer upgrade options.

You’re not locked into a particular set of configuration settings and can create multiple MSTs for a single installation. I suggest you run through the wizard to create an experimental MST and become familiar with the options. There are so many different configurations possible in the CIW, that there’s no way I can describe each possible screen in the wizard to you. Just pay close attention to the screens and read them thoroughly to make the customizations necessary for your organization. Then, when you’re ready to actually deploy Office, run the wizard again to create the final MST(s) that will be used through IntelliMirror.

Publishing or assigning Office with IntelliMirror
After you create the desired transform(s) for the Office deployment, you’re ready to publish or assign the package. You do so through group policy at the level that best suits how you need to deploy the application. For example, you might choose to deploy the same configuration to all users in a given domain and would therefore define the policies at the domain level. Or, if you want to deploy different options to different groups or departments, create an organizational unit (OU) for each one and apply the group policy at the OU level.

You might create an OU for sales and another for engineering with different group policy objects (GPOs) for each one. However, when you’re first developing an application deployment, you might want to create an OU that applies only to a few test accounts, apply the policy at that level, and then use the test accounts to test the deployment. When everything is working properly, link the GPO to the appropriate “live” Active Directory (AD) containers to begin the deployment process.

To create or edit the GPO, open the AD console for the applicable level, such as the Users And Computers console for domain- and OU-level policies or the Sites And Services console for site-level policies. Right-click the container where you want to define the policies and choose Properties. Click the Group Policy tab and either create a new GPO or select an existing one and click Edit to open the Group Policy editor.

In the editor, open the container that defines how you want to deploy the application. For example, to deploy based on computer name, open the Computer Configuration | Software Settings | Software Installation branch. Open the User Configuration | Software Settings | Software Installation branch if you want to deploy Office based on user identity. Then, right-click the right pane and choose New, Package. Select the Data1.msi file from the Office network administrative share and click Open.

In the Deploy Software dialog box, select the option Advanced Published Or Assigned. This option will allow you to specify transforms for the package, a capability that is not available through the basic Published or Assigned options. Configure settings for the package as I detailed in my previous article “Automate your application deployment with IntelliMirror,” click the Modifications tab, and then click Add to select the transform you previously created. Add other transforms as needed and adjust their order in the list, keeping in mind that modifications are made in the order in which the transforms are listed. Later modifications therefore overwrite earlier ones. When you’re satisfied with the package settings, click OK to close the dialog box and create the package.

As a final step, log on from a client computer with an applicable account and run through the installation process and check for problems. Adjust package and policy settings as needed to fine-tune the installation, then link the GPO to all applicable AD containers.