It seems like each version of Microsoft Office has included every feature imaginable, along with some that you probably never thought of. With all of the features in Office 2003 and its predecessors, it’s hard to believe that Microsoft could have left some things out. In reality, Microsoft couldn’t include everything with Office, and Office’s inherent complexity created new challenges for organizations deploying the software. So, to make things easier, Microsoft created the Office Resource Kits. Here’s a look at what’s in the Office 2003 Resource Kit.

A Resource Kit for (almost) all versions

Microsoft has been selling versions of Office since the Dark Ages of Windows 3.1, but it has only been since Office 95 that Office has grown to completely dominate the desktop application field. As the software increased in popularity, Microsoft released Resource Kits that allowed support techs to do more with Office, along with having more control over their Office deployments.
Even though Microsoft created a Resource Kit for Office 95, you can no longer find it on the company’s Web site. Microsoft does, however, still provide Resource Kits for the following Office versions:

For the purposes of this article, I’ll focus on the Office 2003 Resource Kit. I’ll discuss what’s in the kit and how you can get it. In subsequent articles, I’ll show you how to put some of the tools to use.

No kitchen sink
Although there are some end-user utilities included (unlike in Resource Kits for previous versions), the Office 2003 Resource Kit does more to extend the support tech’s ability to distribute and customize Office than anything else. As a support tech, you’ll find these tools very handy:

  • CMW File Viewer—This tool allows you to view the changes that a configuration maintenance file makes to a user’s computer. You can also use it with the Custom Maintenance Wizard to view all of the suggested changes the wizard wants to make before applying them.
  • Custom Installation Wizard—With this tool, you can create custom Windows Installer Transform files (MSTs) for Office 2003 without changing the original Office 2003 MSI installation package. You can create custom installations for different users, and have them run those installations rather than having to select each part of Office they want during the installation.
  • Custom Maintenance Wizard—This tool lets you make changes to an Office 2003 installation after you deploy it. It creates a configuration maintenance file that modifies user settings, security settings, and even registry keys.
  • Customizable Alerts—This tool contains a list of error messages for Microsoft Office applications. With this information, you can configure custom error messages for your users.
  • HTML Help Workshop—With this tool, you can create custom Help topics that will appear when users select Help within a Microsoft Office application.
  • International Information—This tool provides information about international versions of Office.
  • MST File Viewer—You can use this tool to view the MST files created by the Custom Installation Wizard.
  • Office Converter Pack—This tool is a collection of file converters and filters and is used to convert files from other file formats such as WordPerfect and early versions of Microsoft Word. You can use the converter with older versions of Microsoft Office, including Office XP, Office 2000, and Office 97.
  • Office Information—This includes a list of support files for Microsoft Office 2003, including registry keys and security certificates.
  • Office Profile Wizard—You can use this tool to create and distribute user profiles that control locations for files and templates, removing the need for users to do the customizations themselves after you install Office.
  • Office Removal Wizard—This wizard helps you control how Office is removed from your system. You can use it to remove portions of older versions of Office from a computer during an installation. For example, you can choose to remove all of Office 2000 except for Access 2000.
  • OPS File Viewer—With this tool, you can view OPS files, which contain changes that the Office Profile Wizard suggests.
  • Outlook Administrator Pack—This tool allows you to control security settings for Outlook 98, Outlook 2000, Outlook 2002, and Outlook 2003 when used in conjunction with Exchange.
  • Package definition files—Not to be confused with Acrobat Reader files, package definition files are used by Systems Management Server to install Office remotely across the network. The kit includes several PDF files to help you with the installation.
  • Policy template files—These files are Group Policy templates that you can use to secure network policies for Office users. You can use policies to enforce configurations, security settings, and other aspects of Office.

Obtaining and installing the Resource Kit
You can download the Office 2003 Resource Kit directly from Microsoft’s Office 2003 Web site. You can’t download the individual components of the Resource Kit separately; instead, you must download one large installer package. The file you’ll download, Ork.exe, is only a little over 7 MB, so it won’t take that long to download.

To install the Resource Kit, just run the Ork.exe file. This will begin a standard Windows wizard. During the installation, you can either choose to do a complete installation or a custom installation. The complete install will take about 31 MB on your workstation and, as the name suggests, will install all of the Office Resource Kit tools.

If you select a custom install, you’ll see the screen shown in Figure A. Here, you can choose how you want to install the tools. For each tool, you can select Run From My Computer, which installs the tool, or Not Available, which doesn’t install the tool.

Figure A
You can choose which Resource Kit tools you want to install.

By default, all of the tools are selected. Click the drive icon next to a tool and select Not Available to deselect a tool. Once you’ve made all of your selections, click Next all the way through to the end of the wizard. After clicking Install, you can find the kit by choosing Start | All Programs | Microsoft Office | Microsoft Office Tools | Microsoft Office 2003 Resource Kit.