Streamline Custom Office 2003 Deployments

The Custom Installation Wizard makes the job a snap

Installing the familiar Microsoft Office applications that we use at home, school, and work is fairly simple if you're doing a standard installation on one computer. But when you have complex deployments that involve many machines, you need a tool that can help you customize Office and streamline the installation. The Office 2003 Editions Resource Kit's Custom Installation Wizard (CIW) is just such a tool. Let's look at how you can use the CIW to make some popular and useful Office 2003 customizations. But first, you need to understand a couple of things about Windows Installer.

Windows Installer
As with Office XP and Office 2000, you install Office 2003 through the Windows Installer service. Windows Installer uses two types of files:

  • Windows Installer packages (.msi files): The .msi files are databases that associate Office components with Office features and contain all the information you need to install Office.
  • Transforms (.mst files): The .mst files are databases that contain modifications you want to make to the installation process. Windows Installer applies these changes to the .msi file before performing the installation. Thus, transforms give you a way to override the default installation and customize Office. You can apply one transform at a time when you perform an installation; transforms have no effect on existing installations.

The key to controlling Office installations is to override the default settings that you want to change. Using a transform is the easiest way to do this, although you can also provide settings from the command line or specify a text .ini file. You can reuse a transform for multiple installations or use the CIW to open it and modify its settings. Typically, you create one transform for each type of installation. For example, if you wanted to deploy Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 now and the rest of Office 2003 later, you'd build two transforms: one that installs just Outlook and another that installs only the other components that your users require.

Office Deployment Types
The Business Desktop Deployment Solution Accelerator ( can guide you through planning and executing your Office deployment. Such comprehensive information is beyond the scope of this article; however, understanding the most common deployment scenarios can help you understand what the CIW can do.

In a combined deployment, you install both Windows XP and Office 2003 on new hardware. You can configure a single machine as a baseline using the OS and Office settings, then use Microsoft Remote Installation Services (RIS) or an imaging tool, such as Symantec's Norton Ghost, to blast the combined Office and OS image to your machines. Typically, you retain the transform so you can use it to build or repair machines in the future.

Another more common--and more complicated--scenario is installing Office on machines that already have an earlier version of Office. In this case, you might want to preserve user settings and data, or you might want to change a few settings. This scenario has two subcases:

  • Sometimes you want to remove the older Office version on the target machine and replace it with the new release. You might do this when you don't have any legacy applications that depend on earlier versions or when you need to make a clean start.
  • Alternatively, you might want to retain selected older components. If your company has applications that are tested and certified for use with a particular Microsoft Office Access release, for example, you can tell the CIW to install Microsoft Office Excel 2003, Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003, Outlook 2003, and Microsoft Office Word 2003 without touching Access.

A third scenario, called a phased deployment, is increasingly common. In this scenario, you install some Office 2003 applications now and others later. For example, say your company is upgrading to Exchange Server 2003 and wants to take advantage of new features (such as RPC over HTTP connectivity and cached mode) that combined Outlook 2003 and Exchange 2003 installations offer. Exchange client licenses include Outlook licenses, so you can deploy Outlook 2003 even if you haven't deployed Office 2003. Thus, you can use the CIW to build a transform that installs only Outlook; later, you can build a second transform to install some or all of the other Office applications.

Preparing to Use the CIW
Before you can use the CIW, you need to download the ork.exe file from and launch the executable to install the CIW. You can then access the tool by clicking Start, Programs, Program Files, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office Tools, Office 2003 Resource Kit. Office 2003 doesn't need to be installed for you to install and use the wizard, although you do need access to an Office 2003 installation source, such as the installation CD-ROM or a network installation point.

Creating an Installation Source
Installation sources are an important transform element. Office (2000 and later) maintains a list of locations in which you've installed Office components. This list tells the Office installation tool (and the self-repair and detect-and-repair features that reinstall damaged or missing components) where to look for the necessary components. To easily deploy Office 2003 on multiple computers, you can create an administrative installation point--a network share that contains a version of Office used as an installation source for individual machines. Users can install Office from the share themselves, or you can create a transform that customizes the installation for them.

To create an administrative installation point, you need a file share with at least 652MB of free space and an Office 2003 installation CD-ROM. Run the Office setup utility (setup.exe) followed by the /a switch. The setup utility will prompt you to specify the share location. Depending on the type of license you have, you might be able to enter the volume license key so that users don't have to enter it themselves.

Using the CIW
After you start the CIW, the first real step in using it is to tell the wizard where the Office .msi file is. If you created an administrative installation point, specify its location when prompted. If you didn't create an installation point, insert the Office CD-ROM. Whether you use an installation point or the CD-ROM, the source location will be included in the transform. Consequently, when users change or repair Office components, Office will look first to that location for the components it needs to carry out the modification or repair. If different machines have different CD-ROM drive letters, you'll need to either specify additional installation locations later in the CIW or use an administrative installation point with a fixed location.

Next, specify whether you want to edit an existing transform or create a new one; in either case, you need to specify the location of the transform. The CIW doesn't apply the settings until you finish working with the wizard, even if you're editing an existing transform, so you can use the Back and Next buttons to your heart's content.

The CIW consists of 24 configuration screens. Each screen gives you control over a specific aspect of your Office installation, ranging from its location to which settings to apply to an Outlook profile. You can jump between screens by using the pull-down menu in the upper right corner of the CIW window; if you don't specify any settings on a given screen, the CIW uses the default values.

Wizard screens 5­9 let you specify multiple attributes, including

  • the installation location, which defaults to C:\program files\microsoft office, and the organization name (the name you entered when you installed Office) for all installed Office components.
  • what to do with previously installed Office applications (i.e., remove all the old versions or retain one or more earlier versions of individual applications).
  • the installation state of each Office feature (e.g., Excel, PowerPoint, the Word Address Book). You can install each component on the target computer, install and run it from the network share, or install it only when the user attempts to use the feature. In general, I recommend that you use the Run all from My Computer setting because mobile and roaming users hate to be told that they need to insert the Office CD-ROM when they're away from the office network.
  • whether you want to use a local installation source, which requires a product key and essentially creates a local installation point that you can use to update or install Office components when you don't have network access.
  • whether you want to use existing Office settings, known as Office profile settings (OPS) files. The Profile Wizard resource kit tool lets you capture existing Office settings, such as the default save format for Excel documents or the file and template locations that Word uses, then apply them as part of a transform. You can also use the CIW's Migrate user settings check box (which is selected by default) to control whether the Office installer updates or replaces user settings that it finds on the target machine. If you clear this check box, the wizard overwrites existing Office settings with fresh defaults.

The Change Office User Settings screen, which Figure 1 shows, lets you control individual settings that are applied as defaults during a new Office installation. This screen gives you an easy way to configure virtually every setting that users can change. (A complete list of Office settings is available on the Office 2003 resource kit Web site.) When users log on and start using Office, they can change the applied settings; if you want to enforce your settings, you must use a Group Policy Object (GPO) to apply them.

The next logical group of screens (screens 11­16) lets you make changes to the target computer's file system or registry and customize the shortcuts that appear on the user desktop.

  • The Add/Remove Files screen lets you add and delete files. This is a terrific way to install templates, add-ins, or other Office-related files that wouldn't typically be part of an Office installation.
  • The Add/Remove Registry Entries screen lets you add and remove arbitrary registry keys. You can import .reg files, for instance.
  • The Add, Modify, or Remove Shortcuts screen lets you control the shortcuts that are visible to users. You can change which shortcuts appear, the icons they use, and their location in the Start menu.
  • The Identify Additional Servers screen lets you specify additional installation points. If the original Office installation point isn't available, the Office installer will try each location in the order in which you added it. The installer will use the first working location for the installation and will remember that location and use it for the next installation.
  • The Specify Office Security Settings screen, which Figure 2 shows, lets you set the default macro security level used for Office applications that support macros. You can rarely go wrong by setting the level to High. Because users can change these settings, you should use a GPO to enforce them.
  • The Add Installations and Run Programs screen lets you specify additional programs or scripts to run during the Office installation. However, problems can arise if you try to deploy additional Windows Installer packages. For example, you can chain together installations of Office and additional interface languages, but you have to specify the products in the correct order. See "How to deploy multiple Office products in a single installation in Office 2003,", and "Deploying Office and Other Products Together," for information about how to make these installations work correctly.

The Outlook: Customize Default Profile screen, which Figure 3 shows, lets you specify what happens to the user's default Outlook profile when you install the new version. As you see, you have four choices. If you choose to use the existing profile but none exists, Outlook will ask the user to create one the first time he or she launches Outlook. If you choose to modify the existing profile and no profile exists, Outlook will create a new one that includes your settings. If you choose to create a new profile with settings you supply, the new profile will become the default profile. You can also supply a profile (.prf) file that specifies your profile changes.

The next set of screens lets you supply Outlook settings that the CIW will apply if you choose Modify Profile or New Profile on the Customize Default Profile screen. Users can change their Outlook profiles only if they have administrative permissions, so be careful about which settings you change if your users won't be able to make their own changes later.

  • The Specify Exchange Settings screen lets you specify an Exchange Server connection for the profile (including whether you want it to use the cached Exchange mode).
  • The Add Accounts screen lets you expand the profile by adding one or more non-Messaging API (MAPI) accounts. For example, you can add an IMAP or Lightweight Directory Access Protocol--LDAP--account to the profile by specifying it here.
  • The Remove Accounts and Export Settings screen lets you strip out cc:Mail and Microsoft Mail accounts from the profile and export the profile settings to a .prf file, which you can then customize and import to the transform.
  • The Customize Default Settings screen lets you choose whether to use Outlook as the default email editor.
  • The Specify Send/Receive Settings screen lets you customize Outlook's send/receive groups.

After you complete the Outlook screens, the Modify Setup Properties screen will list all the setup parameters that you included in the transform. Some parameters might not have assigned values, because any parameter that represents a default that you haven't overridden won't have an explicit value. You can modify any of the listed properties and add new properties from the Modify Setup Properties screen. Customizing the setup properties isn't for casual users, although Office setup will ignore any setting it doesn't recognize.

After you complete these steps, click Finish on the Save Settings screen to convert your settings to an .mst file. After the CIW writes the file, a summary page will give you the exact command that you need to type at the command prompt to run setup.exe and apply the transform. The transforms keyword specifies the transform's location. For example,

Setup.exe transforms="\\cycloneoffice\base-user.mst"

runs setup.exe using the base-user.mst transform. If you misspell transforms (which isn't case-sensitive) or leave out the equals sign or double quotes, setup.exe will run but will install Office using the default settings instead of the transform.

Other Deployment Tools
The CIW lets you easily apply a consistent set of initial settings to Office installations, and it's just one of the Office 2003 Editions Resource Kit deployment tools. Other useful resource kit tools include the Custom Maintenance Wizard, which lets you retroactively install or remove components or change their installation states; the Office Profile Wizard, which can capture all Office user settings and save them to a reusable, editable file; and Eraser, which lets you remove every trace of Office, including registry subkeys, components, and temporary files. You'll find documentation that explains exactly how these tools work and how to use them on the Office 2003 resource kit Web site.

How to
PROBLEM: Customize and automate complex Office 2003 deployments
WHAT YOU NEED: Windows Installer, Office 2003 Editions Resource Kit Custom Installation Wizard (CIW), an administrative installation point
1.Download ork.exe and run it
2.Create an installation source by installing Office on a network share
3. Use the CIW to create or edit a Windows Installer transform (.mst) file
4. Run setup.exe with the transforms=<yourtransform> property

Learning Path
To learn about some GPOs that apply Outlook settings:

"Office 2003 Editions Resource Kit Tools," InstantDoc ID 40420

For details about chaining .msi packages or .exe files together during installation:
"How to deploy multiple Office products in a single installation in Office 2003"

"Deploying Office and Other Products Together"
TAGS: Windows 8
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