by lunarg on October 9th 2015, at 11:06

In larger environments, installing Office from Office365 can be tedious work. Because of how the installation works (Click-to-Run principal), every user would have to log on to Office365 Portal to download and run the installer, and then stream Office to each computer. From a management perspective, this isn't really a good idea. Luckily, Microsoft has updated their Office Deployment Tool to support Click-to-Run, and that includes Office365.

Using Office Deployment Tool to deploy Office365 is pretty straight-forward and does not require much in terms of dependencies or prerequisites. It is also possible to use the deployment tool to deploy Office365 through System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM).

Office Deployment Tool and Click-to-Run

The Office Deployment Tool is a tool to customize installations of Office, allowing for easy (unattended) installation of Office with the customizations and options you require. The Office Deployment Tool has now been extended to support Click-to-Run applications, which is essentially what Office365 is. It can be used to download and customize Office from Office365 and have it readily available on a network share so it can be deployed to the workstations on your network without the need for additional downloads.

Preparing the installation files

Follow the procedure below to download the installation files for Office365. Usually, these files are placed on a network share which will act as your installation source, but you could also place the files on an USB media.

For 32-bit, you'll need about 1 GB for the base installation files and 200-250MB per additional language.

  1. Download the Office Deployment Tool:
  2. Run the downloaded installation file to extract the deployment tool (setup.exe) and a sample configuration XML file. Place the files to a temporary folder or directly on the network share that will be your installation source.
  3. Edit the configuration XML file to customize your installation. You can use the Reference for Click-to-Run configuration XML file (TechNet) to see the configurable parameters. Note that the Office 2013 Deployment Tool does not support all settings mentioned in the reference.
    A minimal configuration XML would look like this:
      <Add SourcePath="\\server\share" OfficeClientEdition="32" >
        <Product ID="O365ProPlusRetail">
          <Language ID="en-us" />
      <Display Level="None" AcceptEULA="TRUE" />
      <Property Name="AUTOACTIVATE" Value="1" />
      <Property Name="SharedComputerLicensing" Value="1" />
    The XML above would install the 32-bit English version of Office365 with default apps included. The installation files are located on a network share \\server\share.
  4. Run setup.exe in download mode to download the required files:
    setup.exe /download configuration.xml
    The deployment tool will use the configuration from the specified XML to determine what to download. Downloading may take some time, depending on your internet speed. It will attempt to place the downloaded files at the location specified by SourcePath (in our example: \\server\share). If SourcePath is omitted, the deployment tool will use the current directory to place the downloaded files in.
    Note that running setup.exe in download mode needs to be done each time you make changes to the configuration XML: adding additional languages or components requires additional downloads from the internet.

Configuring/customizing Office365

You can customize the installation of Office365 by editing the configuration XML. This allows you to determine:

  • Which products to install: aside from Office365, you could also deploy Visio and other Office-products from one convenient installation source.
  • Which languages to install (more than one is possible).
  • Which components to include/exclude.
  • Other installation options (such as automatic acceptance of EULA, silent installation, etc).

A complete reference for the configuration XML for Click-to-Run can be found here:

Common customizations


To change the architecture to 64-bit: OfficeClientEdition="64"


You can add additional languages by adding multiple <Language ID> tags to the <Product> tag:

<Product ID="O365ProPlusRetail">
    <Language ID="nl-nl" />
    <Language ID="en-us" />
    <Language ID="fr-fr" />

All specified languages will be installed, but Office will look at the current user's language to select which is active by default. The user can choose to change the language to any of the languages which were installed. The specified languages will also include proofing tools.

A complete list of available languages for Office, and their identifiers for use in the configuration XML can be found here:


You can exclude specific components from Office by adding corresponding <ExcludeApp ID> tags. The example below prevents Access, InfoPath and OneNote from being installed:

    <ExcludeApp ID="Access" />
    <ExcludeApp ID="InfoPath" />
    <ExcludeApp ID="OneNote" />

Installation source

If you wish to install from USB media, you can omit SourcePath. This will tell the deployment tool to look in the current directory for the installation source files during installation. When the tool is in download mode, the install sources will also be put in the current directory.

If you have a webserver that you wish to use, you can also set SourcePath to an URL. Of course, this only works for installation and not in download mode.

Versioning (2016-only)

The 2016 version also adds the ability to specify which "branch" and/or which specific version (within the specified "branch") to install. This defaults to Branch="Current", which installs the latest stable version of Office 2016. But it can be changed by specifying in with the <Add> tag:

<Add SourcePath="\\servershare" OfficeClientEdition="32" Version="" Branch="Current" >

Update behaviour (2016-only)

The Office 2016 Deployment Tool also allows to configure update behaviour: updates can be turned on or off, you can determine which version to update to, to which update "branch" to stick to, whether to download updates directly from Microsoft, or use the specified installation source.

<Updates Enabled="TRUE" Branch="Current" />

Installing Office365

To install Office on a computer using Office Deployment Tool is as simple as running setup.exe in configuration mode. For this to work properly, setup.exe will have to be run at least once in download mode, ensuring the required installation sources have been downloaded.

Manual installation

  1. Log on to the computer as a (local) Administrator account, i.e. an account that can install software. The user does not have to be an administrator in order to use Office, but it is required for the installation.
  2. Insert the USB media or navigate to the network share where you put Office Deployment Tool and the installation sources. If SourcePath was specified in the configuration XML, the deployment tool itself (setup.exe) and the installation sources do not necessarily have to be on the same location.
  3. Run setup.exe in configure mode to install Office using the configuration parameters in the specified configuration XML:
    \\server\share\setup.exe /configure \\server\share\configuration.xml
    If the configuration XML specifies a silent install, the installation will occur entirely in the background. If not, then the default Click-to-Run splash screen and progress bars will be displayed during the installation. Note that a silent install will also suppress any errors.
  4. Once the installation is completed, Office will have been installed according to the configuration parameters specified in the configuration XML.

Automatic installation

You can use System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) to deploy Office365 as well. Using the configuration XML is almost identical, except the SourcePath does not have to be specified as this is dynamically determined when placing the install package on a distribution point.

More information about using Office Deployment Tool to deploy Office365 using SCCM:

Installation through group policy scripts or any other software repository is also possible.


License activation

When an Office app (Word, Excel, etc) gets started for the first time, the user will be prompted to enter their Office365 account details in order to activate Office. This will also configure access from the Office apps to the various Office365 services for that user (e.g. direct access to OneDrive, direct access to Sharepoint document libraries, etc).

There's no grace period for Office365, meaning that immediate activation is required in order to use any of the Office programs (Word, Excel, etc).

If AD sync is active, the prompt to log in to activate Office may not appear: Office will be able to automatically detect the account and log on to Office365 to activate.

License re-activation

Re-activation of Office365 occurs every 24 hours. If re-activation fails because of no internet, Office will attempt to re-activate up to 30 days. After 30 days without a succesful re-activation, Office will lock down to limited mode and most of its functionality will be disabled until a re-activation occurs. Re-activation is always done automatically (without the user having to do anything) and only requires internet access.

License de-activation

If the license is removed for the user account on Office365, or the computer gets de-activated from the Office365 Portal by the user itself, Office is automatically de-activated immediately when the next re-activation occurs. Technically, this means that after a license for a user has been removed, his/her Office apps can continue to work for a maximum of 30 days, provided the computer has no access to the internet during that period.


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