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.